Driving is a skill many learn to do and continue using every day, and can be used in many different ways, whether for pleasure or for work and utility. However, there is one problem that plagues driving which no person enjoys, traffic. According to Gilbert Gee and David Takeuchi in Social Science & Medicine, those who have to deal with and face congested traffic on a regular basis generally have the lowest health status and more depressive symptoms. Congested traffic also causes sever anger among those who face it commonly. Statistics show that “up to 1,500 people are killed or injured in road rage incidents every year” (Gaille). Congested traffic in many urban cities causes frustration and anger among many who deal with it, so what are the solutions? With some simple changes in law, along with the progression of smart city adaptations to urban centers, there are many new solutions that can alleviate congestion of freeways and streets alongside many cities across the country.
There are many suggestions for change in order to help relieve streets of heavy, congested traffic. Some are big construction and development projects, however there are also simple solutions that could help with reducing the burden of heavy traffic. One article in the Los Angeles Times suggests the idea of ending the high gas tax in Los Angeles and replacing it with a congestion pricing. This would basically add tolls along the highways near Los Angeles. There would be many against the idea of adding tolls, as it’s an extra cost to daily life, however it would impact many very minimally if tolls replaced the taxes on gas in Los Angeles, along with reducing traffic on highways. According to the same article, “After London established congestion pricing, it saw a 30% reduction in congestion, a 14% reduction in trip times and a 9% drop in carbon emissions” (Humes). One problem that could surface however is traffic entering the tolls, however one idea by Buisness Insider suggests having “transponders in cars identify vehicles and the owner’s credit card or account will be charged” (Lowy). There are proven results on the suggestion, and with the minimal needed starting cost of adding tolls on highways, and the minimal cost it would be to drivers due to lower gas prices, it’s an effective way on helping alleviate traffic problems.
Another suggestion that would require a minor change which could prove to have major results would be to change carpool lanes into something else, like a semi-truck only lane. In recent years, the car pool lane is only used by less than 9% of drivers on freeways in Los Angeles. It sees very little usage in peak traffic hours. Converting the lane into something that can be used for other vehicles would allow it to see more use in peak traffic hours. The idea holds that “Converting car pool lanes to dedicated big-rig lanes in major goods-movement corridors would do much more to provide congestion relief” (Humes). This would allow the lane to have more usage by vehicles that cause traffic since semi-trucks normally moving slower than the flow of traffic, as semi’s generally are only able to move at the speed limit but flow of traffic can be greater than speed limit at most times, causing traffic to move slower that it would normally be without semi-trucks. The change would only require changing signs and symbols on the freeway and could have major results.
Along with the simple solutions that could help fix problems with traffic, due to new technological advancements, there are many new “smart” solutions to dealing with the problem of congested traffic. One solution uses the new invention of autonomous driving in order to help alleviate some traffic. As stated by Maria Sotra in a Geotab article, autonomous driving would not decrease the number of drivers on the road, however it would change and remove the driving habits that cause congestion on roads. Much of the traffic on freeways is due to the idea of “phantom traffic”, the situation where due to a sudden break of one car, or due to some cars slowing down and looking at a crash that occurred at the side of the freeway, it causes a slowdown on the freeway for no real reason other than human mistakes. Autonomous car technology would be trying to reach a level where groups of autonomous cars would be driving side-by-side in large groups or “platoons” where they would drive at normal speeds consistently, causing no mishaps of sudden brakes from a random car on the freeway or people slowing down to look at a crash. Autonomous car technology can help alleviate traffic by causing smoother, more consistent drives so there would be no random slowdowns on the road.
Another solution due to the advancements of technology would be the optimization of traffic signals. One city that is trying to improve traffic using this idea is Columbus, Ohio. The way this works is the city’s government sends vehicles out at intersections at different times to see how long vehicles sit at certain lights, and how many cars pass through a light going a certain direction. As put, “By getting a better idea of traffic flow and how long a vehicle idles at stop lights, the city can better modify traffic signal timing with the changes in traffic throughout the day” (Sotra). By doing this, it would reduce wasted time at stop lights, causing traffic to flow smoother and save time for drivers at lights. By simply optimizing the way traffic moves on roads, traffic can move smoothly causing less congestion and lower commute times.
Driving is something all people have to do, as there is always a need to go to places whether it be work or the grocery store. However, no person likes to spend countless hours sitting in traffic just to get to the places they want to go to. However, with some simple changes to the way the roads work and are structured, congested traffic can dramatically decrease causing less frustration among drivers on the road. Some changes can even be done due the progression of technology, integrating the use of technology in systems that are inefficient can lead to increased efficiency in the system and less stress for those people who are involved. Congested traffic is a problem that can be solved by changing the way the road is ran.
Sotra, Maria. “7 Smart City Solutions to Reduce Traffic Congestion.” Geotab, 16 Nov. 2017, www.geotab.com/blog/reduce-traffic-congestion/.
Humes, Edward. “Op-Ed: Four Easy Fixes for L.A. Traffic.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 10 Apr. 2016, www.latimes.com/opinion/livable-city/la-oe-humes-why-cant-trucks-and-cars-just-get-along-20160410-story.html.
Lowy, Joan, and Justin Pritchard. “Traffic in the US Is Going to Get Worse – but Things Are Changing.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 27 June 2015, www.businessinsider.com/5-ways-to-solve-the-nations-worsening-traffic-problem-2015-6?IR=T.
Arnott, Richard, et al. “Does Providing Information to Drivers Reduce Traffic Congestion?” Transportation Research Part A: General, Pergamon, 28 Aug. 2002, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/019126079190146H.
Hennessy, Dwight A., and David L. Wiesenthal. “Traffic Congestion, Driver Stress, and Driver Aggression.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 27 Oct. 1999, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/(SICI)1098-2337(1999)25:6<409::AID-AB2>3.0.CO;2-0.
Gee, Gilbert C, and David T Takeuchi. “Traffic Stress, Vehicular Burden and Well-Being: A Multilevel Analysis.” Social Science & Medicine, Pergamon, 21 Jan. 2004, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953603005677.
Gaille, Brandon. “23 Startling Road Rage Facts and Statistics.” BrandonGaille.com, 23 May 2017, brandongaille.com/21-startling-road-rage-facts-and-statistics/.
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