As found by studies, the U.S.A is the most congested country in the world. This problem has consequently led to America’s increased challenge of traffic. Notably, a majority of the affected states comprise of those that host local and foreign tourists from all over the world. As a result, travelers and tourists spend a side of their vacation stuck on the roads together with U.S.A’s local commuters. On average, drivers spend at least 41 hours yearly especially during peak hours. However, in some cities like Los Angeles, drivers spend 103 hours in traffic in peak travel periods. Reducing traffic congestion is a challenge that the American government is committed to solving. Remedies the government has come up with to end this issue include the use of public transport, and encouragement as well as education on the importance to use bicycles.
In Los Angeles, experts and engineers argue that car ownership is the chief factor. With recorded facts, Los Angeles covers 4,060 square miles. Equally, in 2016, the state had an approximate population of 10 million people compared to New York City that had 8.5 million people. Although New York has the privileged space to house the same population as Los Angeles, its population is not as bad as that of LA. According to the US Census Bureau, the prime reason for the traffic is car ownership. As found by Lo (2018), there were an estimated 7.8 million vehicle registrations in Los Angeles in 2016 alone. Contrary to those figures, New York had a lower registration of 2.6 million in 2016 and slightly higher in 2015 combined.
Highway connections also contributed to the traffic jam in Los Angeles. Defined by its geographical location, LA is surrounded by five segments that connect both north and south of Los Angeles. Moreover, the highway segment links the state and the American Route 101 which is the main highway that crosses the West Coast. Therefore, the highway factor above combines with many private motor vehicles to build significantly high traffic of cars which stretches long to cause the traffic.
Low fuel taxes and high fares in regions served by public transit have a consequential effect. For instance, the price of low fuels encourages private owners of cars to use them in roads thus causing congestion. Ironically, the increased fares in public transit regions have also paved way for the public to use their privately-owned vehicles. As a result, more cars than buses hit the road resulting to jam.
Another important factor contributing to traffic is increased driving to businesses and organizations. Close to 40% of jam in such centers involves the public that drive here without apparent reasons. Hence, combined with other public transit vehicles, traffic jams increase causing delayed movement of motor vehicles.
The latest study by the transportation analytics firm INRIX stated that what many people knew about LA was a surprise. According to them, they did not expect that the state was top on matters of traffic congestion than the rest of the cities in the world. As affirmed by the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, drivers spent on average 103 hours in traffic a year (Winship and Travel, 2018). These hours equated to 12.13% of the total time spent in their vehicles while on the journey. The entire cost of this global-leading congestion volume accumulated to approximately $10 billion, a clear waste of both fuel and motorists’ time during peak hours.
The long-lasting traffic jam in LA is responsible for more deaths than even cancer. The traffic that has formed a habit particularly in the weird rush hours, delays the emergency responses of ambulances attempting to access the scenes of emergency. Hindered by this traffic issue, the police, firefighters and the ambulance drivers also find it hard to reach the areas that demand swift responses. Consequently, the public that requires quick attention ends up losing property and their lives because of the delay caused by the jam on the roads.
Drivers’ stuck in traffic jams make stupid mistakes. With urban sprawl growth, commute times also grow longer as greater volumes of vehicles utilize roads across Southern California. The consequential effect of this trend is that drivers spend more time behind the wheels as they leave home earlier and retire late in the night. In the long run, the drivers develop fatigue which can lead to multiple mistakes including distracted attention, mistakes in driver judgment as well as diminished responsive time, all prime aspects in the ever-rising number of traffic accidents.
The dangerous car emissions during traffic jams are among the problems that pose health consequences. Regarding the emissions, health experts suggest that fumes from trucks, cars, and other modes of transportation are the reasons why humans suffer mental acuity, overall intelligence and even emotional state (Brown, 2017). In line with the car fumes, a recent health study by the Michigan University indicated that inhaling exhaust fumes in the street for even half an hour could change the order of activities in some parts of the brain hence controlling one’s personality, behavior and ability to reach conclusions.
Given the urgency of the traffic faced by the commuters in LA and other cities of the world, developments towards solving the problem have begun. In an attempt to either reduce the jam or completely drown the menace, different groups now join hands to curb the matter. Below are some of the solutions aimed at reducing traffic jam in Los Angeles.
Many solutions including car-sharing enterprises can be implemented to curb traffic in Los Angeles. This policy aimed at reducing the number of private cars in roads encourages the members of the public to share community cars to drive to workplaces and other places of interest. Similarly, advocates of this solution affirm that car-sharing enterprises help to create the best relationship among members of the community making it a double-edged solution for both traffic reduction and interpersonal cohesion.
Expanding the transit capacities could be another solution to traffic in LA. This idea of expansion comes at a time when the engineers also think that by relieving major highways linking the USA could help ease congestion by reducing the number of road users. Alternatively, the expansion will create more space for making turns out of the highway at uncontrolled speed to reduce jam. In support of this remedy, the LA voters in 2016 supported a $120 billion Measure M ballot that was expected to alleviate highways throughout the city (Brown, 2017). The project also aimed to reduce the number of hours that drivers spent in traffic by 16% a day by 2057.
Embracing the use of bicycles could be a solution to control traffic in LA. The use of bicycles for example, will reduce traffic jam as well as lower the vehicle emissions into the atmosphere. Like in Holland, Los Angeles should, therefore, develop a region-wide bicycle network that focuses on particular city areas where bicycles could serve a lion’s share of trips. This way, bicycles will have their easy way out unlike vehicles that require more space on the roads compared to the bicycles.
Los Angeles should develop and market low discount fares in regions served by public transit. This way, the public will be enticed with low fares and consequently prefer public transport to private cars. While most people have admired using their personal vehicles to drive to work, the force of high fares also contributed to them assuming public transit. Therefore, if charges are pulled down in areas served by public transit higher percentage of people would use buses thus helping to reduce the LA traffic jam.
Voluntary reductions in driving at businesses and organizations will also ease jam in Los Angeles. Houston & Wu (2014) studied the behavior of people especially in late hours and found that they drove towards major areas of business and firms. Even much as few people had reasons for such behavior, 50% of the drivers only meant to meet their friends and talk. These convergences thus heavily caused jam along the streets delaying home movements. Therefore, by promoting a willing reduction of driving around busy centers, the state could start enjoying the joy of empty and free streets unoccupied by vehicles.
In a tactical measure to curb traffic, the county state of LA should levy fuel taxes. Such taxes are meant to increase transportation revenues as they reduce the demand for driving. From the penalties employed by the fuel charges, many people will avoid personal driving and prefer the use of buses. Throughout LA streets, there will be a preferable number of vehicles compared to the many that unnecessarily storm the common places. Eventually, the regulated number of motor vehicles will reduce and ease traffic.
Although every measure to reduce traffic may seem an easy way, there are several challenges associated with its implementation. Therefore, to ensure that all proposals are achieved to solve the traffic, different agencies should come together to beat all odds in achieving the target (Tessum et al. 2018). This way, traffic in LA and other cities of the USA will be relieved of traffic jam.
All in all, the issue of traffic jam in most cities in the world is a serious matter. However, the case of Los Angeles is a special one as it entails the highest number of hours in the world that drivers spend on the roads. Even so, the associated problems with the traffic among them emission of harmful gases and the increased waste of fuel and time have prompted to the government setting standards to solve the matter. As a result, the state county has employed multiple measures including levying fuel, promoting reductions in driving around businesses and organizations, encouraging the region-wide use of bicycles as well as expanding transit capacities to make way for more vehicles. Other group efforts, as well as the above measures, are thus meant to assist LA to come out of the troubles and misfortunes caused by traffic in the state and its neighboring hoods.?
Brown, R. (May 10, 2017). Traffic congestion in Los Angeles: The hidden dangers. Retrieved from https://www.salamatilaw.com/auto-accidents/traffic-congestion-in-los-angeles-the-hidden-dangers/
Houston, D., Li, W., & Wu, J. (2014). Disparities in exposure to automobile and truck traffic and vehicle emissions near the Los Angeles–Long Beach port complex. American Journal of Public Health, 104(1), 156-164.
Lo, A. (February 28, 2018). Los Angeles notorious traffic problem explained in graphics. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/27/americas/los-angeles-traffic/index.html
Tessum, M. W., Larson, T., Gould, T. R., Simpson, C. D., Yost, M. G., & Vedal, S. (2018). Mobile and Fixed-Site Measurements to Identify Spatial Distributions of Traffic-Related Pollution Sources in Los Angeles. Environmental Science & Technology, 52(5), 2844-2853.
Winship, T. (February 11, 2018). The 10 US cities with the worst traffic. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/the-10-us-cities-with-the-worst-traffic-2018-2?IR=T
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