Ways to Reduce Traffic Congestion

Written by helen harvey
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Ways to Reduce Traffic Congestion
Traffic congestion seriously impacts the economy and environment. (Driendl Group/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Traffic congestion seriously impacts the economy, environment and the health and well being of drivers. According to Texas Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility report for 2007, all 85 urban areas that were intensively studied showed "more delay, more wasted fuel and higher congestion cost in 2005 than in 2004." Its 2009 report showed that "traffic congestion took a break from its worsening trend even before the current recession, with high gas prices in the last half of 2007 bringing about a slight reduction in traffic."

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Historical Solutions

In London, England engineers looked to historical solutions to alleviate the city's chronic traffic congestion. In ancient Rome, two factors determined how horse and camel riders would navigate narrow passageways, where one would have to give way to the other. Common courtesy dictated that the traveller with the heaviest load was given the right of way. If both travellers had loads of an equal weight, the traveller prepared to pay the most for the right to go first was given the right of way. This simple solution was used as the basis for London's congestion charge or daily toll to drive in London's busiest areas. The use of tolls as a means to easing traffic congestion could be more widely implemented, providing it does not simply push users on to alternative routes that become congested.


In Athens, Greece and Mexico City, traffic congestion is eased by limiting which vehicles may drive in certain areas on certain days. Vehicle number plates are assigned an odd or even number that restricts which days of the week they can access specific highly congested areas.

Work Schedules

Since rush hour traffic indicates that the majority of traffic congestion is a result of workers starting and finishing work at similar times, flexible or compressed work schedules and telecommuting can ease congestion. According to Intelligent Transportations Systems at the Department of Transportation, this requires the cooperation of major employers in urban areas to be of maximum effectiveness.

Public Transportation

The American Public Transportation Association is leading the push towards improved and increased public transportation for commuters. The Urban Mobility Report, which the Texas Transportation Institute has been running for more than 20 years, shows that the annual increase of travel in traffic congestion without public transportation would be 1.1 billion hours. The Institute believes that further reductions in congestion can be achieved with investment priority being shifted to the "expansion of high-capacity public transportation systems, including light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit and high occupancy vehicle lanes."

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