I’m an avid bass fisherman. I often leave my home near Old Atlanta Road in the wee hours of the morning for a trip to one of our nearby waters. At 3:30 a.m., traffic is almost non-existent, yet I must stop for an average six red traffic lights on GA-20 alone.
My work commute usually begins about 6:45 AM. The heaviest traffic flow is moving south on Old Atlanta. Everyday we sit and idle while awaiting the left turn arrow from Bell Rd onto McGinnis Ferry to change. Problem is there’s rarely a vehicle in that turn lane. On the way home the traffic backup from Bell Road trying to cross McGinnis Ferry is often over a mile long, but that light operates exactly the same way it did that morning, even though the heaviest traffic is now moving north.
These are just two examples of traffic frustrations that could be solved with better management systems. In my 27 years in the military we lived in many areas of the world. I can unequivocally pronounce that in my experience, our traffic management system is among the worst I’ve seen. Our increasingly over-crowded roads are being “managed” by 1950s technology. This is causing unnecessarily high costs in terms of wasted fuel, vehicle maintenance and untold environmental damage, not to mention the stress toll this takes on our lives.
The traffic control technology we need is available today and many parts of the country already have it. We continue to add and widen roads while we simultaneously install inefficient traffic light systems.
The traffic management system we need is as follows:
* Signals must support the demand of the traffic depending on the time of day and high demand flow direction. Lights should facilitate priority flows in one direction in the morning and perhaps the opposite direction in the afternoon.
* Signals should automatically go to flash during low demand times, amber to priority and red to secondary.
* Signals must give green to secondary roads according to demand
* If a vehicle is waiting to turn left and no other vehicles are waiting, only the left turn signal cycles before turning green back to the priority road.
* Get rid of fixed time traffic lights.
The technology exists today to more efficiently manage our increasingly congested roads. Let’s get started.