Best Practices in Traffic Incident Management

No one enjoys sitting in traffic, yet millions of people do so on their daily commutes, wasting both time and money. In the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute (TTI) found that, in 2014, U.S. citizens spent an extra 6.9 billion hours on roadways and consumed an extra 3.1 billion gallons of fuel during this additional travel time, solely due to traffic congestion, resulting in an extra cost of $160 billion dollars. This is an average extra expenditure of $960 per year for each person in the United States who commutes via motor vehicle. During peak travel times, in order to ensure timely arrival at their destinations, commuters had to allow an average of 48 minutes’ travel time for trips that would take only 20 minutes in non-peak traffic. This amounts to an average of 42 hours of additional annual roadway time for the typical daily commuter.

As shocking as these numbers are, they are projected to get worse. The same TTI study also found that in 2013–2014, 95 of the United States’ 100 largest metropolitan areas saw increased traffic congestion, up from only 61 metropolitan areas in 2012–2013. Only 59 percent of the traffic congestion occurred during peak travel hours, commonly thought of as the hours in which one commutes to and from work; 41 percent of the daily congestion occurred during non-peak hours, including the overnight hours. By 2020, TTI estimates annual travel delays will increase to 8.3 billion hours and extra fuel consumption to 3.8 billion gallons, resulting in an average annual cost of $1,100 and 47 additional hours of travel time for each daily commuter.