Congestion is proving deadly on America’s roads, traffic fatalities in the United States have more than doubled in the last two years.
The number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents in the first months of 2016 was 9% higher than in the same period in 2015, the National Safety Council reported. What was even more horrifying was that the number of deaths; 19,100, was 18% than it was in the first six months of 2014.
The cost to America from these figures is staggering; 2.2 million people have been seriously injured in serious accidents since January 2016, the Council estimated. Those accidents will cost Americans an estimated $205 billion. To make matters worse that figure does not include such costs as higher car insurance premiums and higher taxes to pay for more emergency responses to accidents.
That increase in fatalities is the highest in 50 years and it shows no sign of slowing down. What’s worse is the obvious cause of much of the accidents; congestion, there are simply too many vehicles on the roads. Disturbingly it is a problem that we are not dealing with.
The 9% increase in fatalities was caused by a 3.3% increase in the number of miles driven, the Council reported. More telling is that some of the biggest increases in accidents have occurred in states with the most population growth.
Florida which adds 1,000 new people a day to its population saw its fatality rate increase by 43%. The nation’s most populous state California saw its accident death rate increase by 31%. Two other fast growing states Georgia and North Carolina, also saw double digit increases in the rates of fatal accident.
Congestion leads to more fatalities because it leads to more pileups, multicar accidents and head on collisions. One reason for this is increased aggressive driving, drivers become frustrated because traffic is moving is so slowly so they start doing stupid things like reckless passing.
Related problems are a lack of police on the roads and more road damage. Those make the roads less safe at a time when there are more cars on them.
Infrastructure is the Answer
The obvious solution to this horrendous situation is to build more infrastructure; more roads and highways, more lanes to existing byways and more alternatives to driving such as rail systems. All that is expensive, and many governments simply lack the resources.
With its current level of funding the state of Colorado will not be able to expand some roads; including the gridlocked C-470 in the Denver area, until the year 2075, Shailen Bhatt, the executive director of the state department of transportation admitted in an August 25 interview on radio station KOA.
Some highway expansion is going on in Colorado thanks to partnerships; in which private companies takeover road maintenance in exchange for the right to collect tolls. Such arrangements are necessary because the state’s fuel tax is no longer capable funding highway expansion. They are not necessarily a realistic answer to congestion; because many drivers simply refuse to use toll lanes even in the face of gridlock.
How Hyperloop would Help
All this shows that the current transportation system is unsafe, inefficient, deadly and economically unsustainable. It is time to look to alternatives in the form of new technologies such as Hyperloop.
Hyperloop would be more efficient than our current system because it would be faster. That means it would move a lot more freight and people but leave a smaller footprint. Since it would be electrically powered Hyperloop would generate less pollution as well. It would also be more likely to be self-sustaining because users would have to pay fare.
Another way Hyperloop would help is by getting a lot of freight that’s currently moved by truck off the roads. Much of the congestion on the highways; especially the interstates, is created by big rigs.
A great deal of car traffic can be eliminated because Hyperloop would ideal for commuting and shorter trips. In my home state of Colorado it would make the drive between Denver and high country resorts such as Vail unnecessary. Currently Interstate 70 through the mountains sees bumper to bumper traffic almost every weekend in the summer and the Winter.
Other trips eliminated would be the drives between outlying areas and the airport; for example a resident of Cheyenne driving to Denver International Airport to catch a flight to New York.
Obviously we don’t know the costs of Hyperloop, but this new technology certainly has the potential to reduce gridlock and save a lot of lives. It is time we took a serious look at it, especially with the body count from the carnage on our highways piling up.