We’ve all been there: you’re stuck in stop-and-go traffic for twenty minutes, scanning the horizon for the flashing lights of a wreck or construction cones lining the highway. Then, all of a sudden, you start moving again. There’s no construction, there’s no wreck, and there’s no way to get that twenty minutes of your life back.
Here are some theories:
Here’s a video of the shockwave effect in action:
Beyond the frustration factor, traffic congestion in the US costs time, money, and energy. And it’s getting worse.
According to the 2010 Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute,
- Congestion costs continue to rise: measured in constant 2009 dollars, the cost of congestion has risen from $24 billion in 1982 to $115 billion in 2009.
- The total amount of wasted fuel in 2009 topped 3.9 billion gallons – equal to 130 days of flow in the Alaska Pipeline.
- Cost to the average commuter: $808 in 2009, compared to an inflation-adjusted $351 in 1982.
- Yearly peak delay for the average commuter was 34 hours in 2009, up from 14 hours in 1982.
Of course, the amount of congestion, and therefore waste, varies by population size. But just because you live in a small town, doesn’t mean you’re not shelling out cold, hard cash to cover the costs of gridlock.
- The amount of wasted fuel per traveler ranged from 13 gallons in the Small population group
to 39 gallons in the Very Large population group in 2009.
- Commuters of 97 areas are “paying” more than $1 per workday in congestion costs; 63 areas
have a congestion value exceeding $2 per workday.
- The average cost of congestion per auto commuter ranged from $1,166 in the Very Large
population group to $436 in the Small population group in 2009.
You can find out how your city fares on the Urban Mobility Report website.
The best line in the entire report:
What Causes Congestion?
In a word, “you.”
Keep that in mind as you think about solutions to the traffic problem. Programs and tactics that get YOU off the road, or out of a single occupancy vehicle, are the answer to the congestion problem.
And just think: by teleworking, taking public transportation, or finding an alternate route during rush hour, you’re not only saving your time, money, and fuel, you’re also cutting down on the traffic problem for everyone else.
Infographic via Chart Porn