Recently, I had an opportunity to sit in a traffic-copter for a day. What a treat it was to see our roads from a bird’s eye view. One can literally see the effects of traffic volume on main arteries at different times of the day. It reminded me somewhat of a garden hose. Imagine opening the taps and allowing the water to flow freely out at full gush. Hardly any reason for concern. However, as we start to restrict the flow, the pressure begins to build. If the pressure isn’t released, true problems can occur. The eventuality in real life on our roads is that the relief comes as time passes. The initial burst of traffic volume causes serious congestion in town and on our motorways and it builds as the volume increases throughout the rush hours. As cars filter through to their destinations, the pressure is relieved and the roads return to normal.
One observation that was brought to my attention by the pilot was that the rush hours seem to start earlier and end later. Increased population alone is not the cause, however the fact that many more people are driving these days is. Urban sprawl, as the cities merge with suburbs that in turn merge with other suburbs is making our world a little smaller. The infrastructure is old and our growth has probably outgrown the original city planner’s calculations, but real-estate is at a premium with no room for further road expansion.
As we landed and took some time to enjoy a hot tea, we discussed some of the changes over the years. Among our many animated discussions, we pondered about what to do to resolve this problem. To me, the answer was simple. As a true petrol-head, I suggested we raise all speed limits. My rationale was simple as well. Increase the flow to increase the amount of volume passing through a clogging artery.
Sadly, I was brought back down to earth with a very sound clap of thunder. My pilot mate made a very simple statement that made me think. He said, “That’s a great idea, now all we have to do, is teach everyone who is currently licensed, how to drive.” Old generations have gotten too comfortable behind the wheel and developed bad habits. Younger “Nintendo” generations believe life behind the wheel is an episode of Grand Turismo video gaming and Fast and Furious. Some drivers are too afraid of driving and others aren’t afraid enough.
Driving is a privilege not a right, at the same time it should be the responsibility of state, to ensure that everyone on the road is properly trained. The speed limits are from a time when cars were not engineered the way they are today. Stopping distances are shorter, driver aids such as traction control anti-lock brakes etc... should make life safer. Now if we can only get everyone to work together.