Inrix, a company that studies the economic and environmental costs of congestion, estimates that congestion due to bottlenecks cost the nation $78 billion last year in wasted time and fuel. Hampton Roads has been consistently ranked among the top 25 metropolitan areas in terms of traffic congestion according to Texas A&M studies. We spend about 46,000 hours a year sitting in traffic with average cost of $877 per driver when one calculates fuel waste, the Daily Press reported. The total annual cost to the region is $932 million.
My colleague Bill O’Mara talks about congestion on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel
That’s why I was intrigued by an article this weekend in the Wall Street Journal concerning traffic congestion. We all know the obvious cause of traffic due to congestion is bottlenecks and inadequate lanes for the cars in need of the route. However a part of the problem is that we, as drivers, are in general selfish. According to experts quoted in the article drivers have a tendency “to jockey for position”, change lanes, race forward to cut lines, tailgate, straddle lines, and other aggressive selfish behavior. Trying to get ahead, actually slows down not only your commute time but the average commute time for everyone by increasing braking, slowing the average speed considerably, and increasing the likelihood of causing accidents.
Ideally, according to traffic engineers, “drivers should keep a steady slower speed, avoid unnecessary lane changes, which induce braking, and lengthen gaps between vehicles to allow for adjustments.” This allows for maximum outflow during times of congestion and reduces the number of accidents during those times of congestion.
States are testing a number of techniques to ensure force better driving choices by drivers. One is the zipper merge. Although it doesn’t hasten traffic, it does decrease the length of backups by up to 40 percent according to traffic engineers at the Minnesota Transportation Department. Electronic speed limit signs also help by gradually slowing traffic depending on road conditions and congestion to safe and effective through-put levels. Another effective tool is ramp meters for the onramps of feed ways as they increase through-put and decrease travel times by adding cars to the freeway in an orderly manner.
Hopefully by following these tips we as a community can improve our commute times and decrease the number of accidents. Something that needs to be done given the terrible congestion problems we have at the various water crossings in the area that are our lifeline.
There’s a clear link between frustration and accidents. If you’ve been injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident you should get the necessary medical attention as soon as possible as well as call an experienced personal injury attorney. Call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077.