Something I always enjoy looking at is my Google Maps Timeline. It’s fun to see all the places I’ve been, the sights I’ve seen, the miles I’ve driven; it’s like a digital time capsule of my life (and, of course, a ton of data that Google has on me).
Having said that, I knew that the stats for 2020 would be really different and really interesting. With — and here, imagine me sweeping my hand, palm up, in front of me — all that went on in the year, I stayed at home a ton and barely went out with my car.
Now, I’ll note that I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to stay home, and I am also lucky that I am mostly okay with being able to stay in my place for such a long period of time.
From a high-level view
Just looking at 2020, here are my driving stats per month:
The trend really couldn’t be more clear; I drove a good amount when I was commuting to work and back and going out and about in my free time, but once the stay-at-home period started, I adhered to it and my driving time plummeted.
Before staying at home
From January to March, I drove (or was driven by others) about 1,500 miles. According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, men in my age group, 20–34, typically drive 17,969 miles a year or about 1,500 miles a month.
With an average of about 300 miles a month to begin the first three months of the year, I already wasn’t really driving that much, and that’s largely due to my city just having so much traffic and me wanting to limit driving as much as possible. I don’t say that to brag — traffic just stinks!
After staying at home
In the interest of the health of myself and others around me, I’ve been mostly staying at home ever since mid-March, and the Google Maps Timeline data very clearly reflects — and even screams — that.
First of all, we start off in April with an absolutely astounding 10 miles driven. From what I recall, I really didn’t go out at all except just to drive around the block to make sure my car battery didn’t die. In May, this bumped up to around 50 miles as I recall picking up some food from friends’ grocery orders and whatnot. All in all in from April to December of 2020, I drove about 300 miles!
If you remember, that was my average per month from January to March, which to me is kind of mind-boggling.
Total for 2020
So if you add the before (1,500 miles) and the after (300 miles), I drove about 1,800 miles on the year. That’s around 1% of what the data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration said a man in my age group drives in a normal year.
So what does it mean?
Well, I knew that I really didn’t drive much at all this year, but this really drives home how little I did. I, and many others who will see Google Maps timeline data with a similar trend, really cared about not making a horrible problem worse — I still do — and I’ve been able to find other things to do with my time (like writing articles like this).
Part of why I’m sharing this is also to show that while I don’t expect (and honestly, don’t really recommend, at least to this extent) others to follow the dramatic stats, I want to also let others know that someone among the general abyss that is the internet has largely stayed at home— and also, that it’s okay to do so even if they’re facing unwanted pressures.
Most of you reading this are well-meaning and trying to do the best you can, and I hope in some way my data is helpful to see and at the very least mildly interesting; I’m not really trying to make broader suggestions or claims but rather just sharing my own personal behavior.
And while I am amused at my driving data, I also have a bit of sadness — sadness that it’s even like this in the first place. When I say that, I don’t mean it so much from a personal standpoint as much as I do a broader one.
I hope that the next few months and upcoming year will bring about not only hope but tangible improvements in our world and countries’ tragedy in the face of a terrifying virus. I hope that people will once again feel comfortable doing the things they loved with the actual risks of doing so largely in the back-view mirror. And, lastly, I hope that next year I will be writing an article about how I drove too much in the second half of the year and really needed to give my poor car a break.