Ignored Opportunities

The NMA has frequently been categorized as an antienvironmentalist organization, primarily because we represent the interests of motorists. It may come as a revelation to our detractors that most of our members have a sincere and abiding interest in maintaining a clean, healthy, and scenic environment. After all, we breath too.

What we object to are the ham-fisted, punitive, elitist, and incredibly expensive schemes, usually in response to a junk science expos‚, being foisted on the American public. Meanwhile, cost effective non-intrusive strategies are ignored or patronized.

One such strategy is the upgrading and improved maintenance of traffic signals.

Just by using current technology, we could see SIGNIFICANT savings in fuel consumption and travel times, and real reductions in vehicle related emissions. This would require no fees, no new regulations, and require no inconvenience of motorists. Here are some numbers from studies done by the Federal Highway Administration and the Institute of Transportation Engineers:

-- Of twenty-four signal systems evaluated by the FHWA in 1990, 88% did not meet minimum standards of performance.

-- Of the 240,000 signalized intersections in U.S. urban areas, 74% needed improvements.

Lest you think that correcting this deficiency has minor consequences, consider these results from actual signal improvement projects:

Orlando, Florida, with a new system for 3675 intersections, generated 2.2 million dollars in fuel savings, reduced vehicle stops and delays by 56 percent, and reduced air pollution by 9 to 14 percent.

A new traffic control system in Los Angeles reduced travel time by 18 percent, fuel consumption by 13 percent, and air pollutants by 14 percent.

Simply retiming signals in a Virginia project reduced delays and stops by 25 percent, travel time by 10 percent, fuel consumption by 4 percent, and air pollutants by 16 to 19 percent!

This is a win/win situation for motorists, taxpayers, and all of us concerned with conservation and environmental issues. The only people who lose are those who want to punish drivers.

Source: Document Review, Arizona Transportation Research Center.
Source: January/February 1995 NMA News

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