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Traffic Jams

Driving to work. Driving to school. Driving to the doctor’s office. Driving to the grandparents’ house. Driving to the game. Driving to the party. Driving is a part of everybody’s life not only throughout the country but also throughout the world. It is an inevitable activity that occurs every day, all day long. Driving has become so engrained in the lives of Americans that traffic congestion has become a bigger and bigger problem each year. The most traveled holidays via driving are Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Christmas. There is no way of getting around it; driving is an important part of people’s lives.

Congestion is defined as slow speeds and longer trip times due to the increased use of motor vehicles on the roadways. A traffic jam is when vehicles are at a dead stop on the roadway due to high volumes of congestion and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Traffic congestion has grown from the introduction of the motor vehicle to the present in massive amounts.

A recent study on traffic congestion done by the United States government explained that there are seven main reasons for traffic jam. They are, in order, bottlenecks, traffic incidents, bad weather, work zones, poor signal timing and special events (concerts, sports, conventions, etc.). Not included in this study as a cause of traffic jams was the sheer volume of vehicles on the roads today. Traffic jams can be caused by an accident, whether minor or serious, or by a heavily braking vehicle. So, jams can be started from one end of the spectrum or the other.

Sitting in traffic is one of the most boring, mentally draining moments of a person’s life. It not only tires people out but it also wastes their time. Traffic jams result in wasted gas, being late for class or an important business meeting, adding more pollution to the ozone and blocked traffic also causes emergency vehicles to have trouble maneuvering to where they need to be.

Many cities and states encourage the use of public transit or carpooling to and from work or school instead of everyone driving by themselves; which places more vehicles on the roadways. Public transit includes subways, buses and trolleys. Most public service announcements from states and cities also encourages physical activity for its residents by encouraging them to ride their bicycles to work instead of driving.

There is no definitive answer as how to diminish traffic congestion or traffic jams altogether but there are certain methods in use now that help to alleviate some problems. They are traffic reporting on television and radio stations every handful of minutes, electronic message signs installed along major roadways detailing delays and/or accidents in the area along with road closures and alternatives, in-car navigation systems and patrol vehicles from each state’s Department of Transportation monitoring traffic flow.

The most congested areas of the United States per a countrywide study in 2005 were Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; and Chicago, Illinois.
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