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Traffic jams hurt the economy. That’s right, when a large number of people are stuck in traffic it does more than just frustrate tdrivers. It also hurts economic development by decreasing productivity. Employees are unable to arrive to work on time, which hurts local businesses. Additionally, strain is put on vehicles, and the environment suffers from additional pollution.

What causes traffic congestion?

The total number of motor vehicles on the road each year continues to rise with population increases across the world. In Australia, the total number of registered motor vehicles was just over 15 million in 2008. that number has already hit 17 million in 2013. Sao Paulo, Brazil, according to Time magazine, has the world’s worst daily traffic jams. According to reports from Sao Paulo’s traffic management agency, the worst congestion was during rush hour on November 15, 2013. During this time there were over 309 kilometres jams around the city.

Luckily, cities are investing more in planning, and technologies to effectively facilitate the flow of traffic. There are various methods towards controlling, and reducing traffic congestion. These methods include road infrastructure, urban planning and design, traffic management, and supply and demand. Used together, city planners and ICT professionals, can greatly reduce the number of serious traffic congestion incidents per year.

Methods to reduce traffic congestion

Road infrastructure is one way to reduce potential traffic congestion problems. This can be achieved through junction improvements, grade separations, ramp signaling, reducing junctions, bus lanes, carpool lanes, and reversible lanes.

Urban planning and design is another way to greatly reduce traffic congestion. City design, and urban planning have a tremendous impact upon future levels of traffic congestion. However, one must note that urban planning and design is more of a long term strategy, and may have little effects on short term goals.

Intelligent transportation systems, or ITS can help to guide traffic via traffic reporting, variable message signs, navigation systems, and traffic counters. ITS can also afford convergence indexing, which provides information on highway on-ramps. Automated highway systems is an idea for the future, which hopes to reduce the safe interval between cars, and increase highway capacity.

Other ways of reducing congestion can include school opening times, or event times being arranged to avoid rush hour traffic. By promoting appropriate, and considerate driving, congestion can also be reduced. This is because frequent lane changes, and tailgating often contribute to traffic jams. Lower speed limits can have a positive effect on road capacity, as well. By lowering speeds, vehicles are able to drive closer together, which increases the overall capacity of the highway, or road.