The Power of Suggestion: Traffic Signs Could Relieve Gridlock; Alter Driving Behavior

 

Tell me...do you think this would work?

What if we could help ease traffic congestion by merely installing traffic signs?  Nothing fancy here.  These signs would simply suggest a desired driver behavior to achieve a desired outcome: moving traffic along in a more expeditious manner. 

Highways all over the country already have these.  Imagine my awe as I rode past, staring at them with my mouth wide open as I had an “ah-ha moment.”  There was a sign that blatantly said: “Steep Upgrade, Maintain Speed.”  Wow, what an idea!  A sign that strongly suggests that drivers hit the gas pedal to maintain speed because — pay attention now, this is deep — we are now driving on a steep incline on a highway, and in order to not slow the people down behind us, we need to STEP ON IT.  What a novel idea!  Why haven’t the transportation authorities in MD, VA, and D.C. metro area caught onto this??  

 

We could use this one, too!

Study explained traffic jams

Years ago, I remember watching a news story about a traffic study that explained why traffic jams and slowdowns occur on our highways.  Among their conclusions were: (1) rubbernecking to see the source of a police stop; (2) rubbernecking due to a disabled car or accident; (3) sheer volume; (4) curvy highways; (5) hilly highways (the steeper the grade, the slower traffic gets); (6) construction and or repair.

We have many highways that are curved and are downright hilly in this area.  I understand slowing down a little for curves in bad weather, but not to the degree that most people do.  I’m quite sure they were built to accommodate highway speeds (at least during fair weather).  But, for some reason, people don’t compensate for hills by simply accelerating.  Guess they just feel that they don’t need to or are not paying enough attention to notice that their car is slowing down.  I wouldn’t want to be a passenger in that car! 

Wake up, people!

I believe that this problem could be helped just by strategically installing the right signage.  Traffic merging onto I-95 North is always slow because there are two steep upgrades before you even get to Exit 33 Rt. 193.  After this exit, traffic usually speeds up exponentially (with some exceptions, of course).  I am convinced that merely suggesting that people accelerate to maintain their speed would go a long way to relieve congestion caused by hills.  It’s worth a try!  

Tell me…what do you think of this solution?  Don’t be shy — leave a comment.

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  1. Me
    August 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I agree! Not trying to difficult but do u think people would obey the signs? Like u said most people don’t pay attention to the hills & curves why pay attention to a sign that makes them do something they probably haven’t thought of?

  2. ras
    May 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Signs might work if driver’s are held accountable for their actions. For instance, take a look at German driving laws: left lane for passing only; no passing in the right lane and those who don’t obey will be ticketed and they know it and follow the rules, thus the traffic moves accordingly. Granted, they don’t have quite they volume that we have in the DC area…

    • May 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      Ras, you make some good points. I wish our driving laws were more like Germany’s because German laws seem to be focused solely on safety for all drivers. U.S. driving laws seem to be primarily aimed at generating revenue (i.e. speeding tickets, et al) as opposed to providing safety for those on the road.

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