"Car Pooling Would Help A Lot"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013

We create many problems that could easily be solved. Those few in positions of power affect many.

A good example is our interstate highways. I travel a good many miles of interstate nationwide and find the same problems prevail everywhere. Interstate systems are supposed to allow travelers to go through states and cities without delays. This is a misnomer of epic proportions during hours when workers are heading to and from their places of employment. Those of us who live in rural areas such as Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties, seldom see a traffic jam unless a major accident occurs. We spend perhaps as little as 1 percent of our time tied up waiting in traffic. There are a few areas where detours or lane restrictions may cause slow downs, but seldom any nail-biting events. As we travel around our area, we have the beauty of our lakes, rivers, trees and farm fields to appreciate, which keeps us calm and provides enjoyment if delays are encountered.

A person living in Huron County but working in the city, let’s say Warren, can make it to work in half the time it takes a worker living on the other side of Warren. Traffic is simply horrific and by the time workers arrive on the job they are a nervous wreck. How does this affect their job performance?

As I see it, there has to be an answer to how traffic can be controlled that will benefit all who use the major highways and interstates.

I’ve written about this topic before but as I observe, it is getting much worse. Many workers that put in an eight-hour day in a metropolitan area, no matter what state, spend an additional three to four hours travel time. Although highways are continuously being enlarged (some in Miami are eight lanes), the gridlock continues unabated.

If a fender-bender occurs, it can back traffic up for many miles adding additional hours of travel to a worker’s commute. These mini-accidents happen daily on most major highways thus an eight-hour work day can turn into 12 if a driver encounters one. The engineers and road designers, who draw very large paychecks, are on the wrong track in correcting the traffic congestion.

Look around while traveling on a jammed-up interstate. If you have a passenger, have them make notes. The number of cars with more than one passenger should be noted. People reading books, newspapers, IPads and IPhones are other things to note. Another note would be those actually texting and one more for those talking (usually the driver), on their cell phones. Ladies love to put their makeup on while commuting to save time, so note that. A special note could be made of those vehicles with music blasting that are cutting in and out of lanes without signaling with utter disregard for the problems they cause.

Highway use has to change if we are all going to continue to travel. In one area I pass through often, four lanes were always jammed during rush hours so they added two additional lanes. The result — traffic was able to speed up and lane jumpers had twice as much room to carry on. When cars in the left lane wanted to exit to the right – you guessed it, more fender benders and greater backups than before the added lanes.

States that have established toll roads have better conditions on their highways. In the past, traffic had to slow to pay the tolls. An electronic sender that charged the drivers account and maintained a balance they could add to soon allowed vehicles with a device on their windshield to slow to only 40 mph as they passed through.

The next upgrade was to eliminate the toll booths altogether and have drivers use a prepaid account or receive a bill at the registered address of the vehicle. This system truly allows traffic to maintain speed while providing a discount to drivers who have an account. Postings at entry points announce the rules and it is all controlled by photo equipment (much like the red light devices).

I believe I have an idea that could help make the major highways and interstates safer and better controlled. Why not use the same type of photo system and charge fees to all cars traveling with only one passenger? Set up car pooling lots where drivers could meet and safely leave their vehicles. Of course, there would be some who would set up dummies to look like passengers, trying to fool the cameras. If the penalties were costly enough however, they would soon find a real rider. The system could target lane jumpers and send large fines to them making all of us on the road safer.

Even if car poolers did not work in the same building, a walk would add to their good health. The air would be cleaner and with less traffic we could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. If this method of traffic control were set up with high-priced fines for violators and strict enforcement, it could work. Our need to expand our roads would diminish, the highway designers could take a leave (saving money), and accidents would be reduced (saving lives). Fines collected could go into maintenance accounts to keep our current roads in top condition.

If such a system were set up, even in a limited way, to only operate on work days during rush hour peaks, it would help. If drivers traded days of driving all drivers would suffer less anxiety and stress. Once workers got home (much earlier), they would be in a better mood and have time to relax.




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