Nearly three years after the COVID-19 pandemic cleared the roads and disrupted daily traffic patterns, the good old rush hour commute is back in full force. The latest traffic survey from Westwood One shows 87% of pre-pandemic commuters are now driving to work again, with more than half of those drivers (56%) commuting 5 days a week. That number is almost unchanged from last spring's survey, which had 86% of pre-pandemic commuters back on the roadways. Longtime Houston and KTRH traffic reporter "Sky" Mike Valdez says the number might as well be 100%. "I don't see any difference in the freeways now than I saw before the pandemic," he tells KTRH.
Based on his daily observation of Houston traffic, Sky Mike believes the roads here are more crowded than ever. "It's rush hour all the time now, and it never eases up," he says. "I'm telling you, traffic is worse than it was before."
"I don't know who's working from home, but I'd hate to see what the roads would be like if they were out here as well," he continues.
The other thing Sky Mike sees on a daily basis is drivers making the commute tougher for themselves and everyone else. "I see so many issues...people have minor accidents, and they're perfectly capable of moving their vehicles off the road, but they just leave them there causing unnecessary backups," he tells KTRH. "Nobody can merge anymore, I see unnecessary braking, people driving too slow and holding up the left lane."
Then there is all the construction around Houston, of course. Many drivers are hoping all of these new road projects will ultimately relieve some of the traffic headaches, but it may not be that simple. "You can have 40 lanes, but it doesn't do any good if people don't drive in the correct lane, or if they're unaware of the other vehicles around them," says Sky Mike. "In my estimation, the problem with traffic is not really a lack of lanes, it's a lack of brains."