Everybody complains about getting tied up in traffic. We’ll take a look at some unusual ways traffic engineers are helping traffic move faster, and safer â€” today, on Engineering Works!
We’ve had traffic engineers almost as long as we’ve had cars and traffic. Traffic engineers are civil engineers who specialize in keeping traffic on streets and highways flowing smoothly and safely â€” things like how wide you make the roadway, traffic lights, the speed limit, where you install signs, sidewalks and crosswalks to keep vehicles and pedestrians moving along.
We complain about traffic tie-ups, but traffic engineers’ plans usually work pretty well.
In one small town in Holland, traffic engineers cleaned up traffic at a dangerous intersection by doing the opposite of what you’d expect. They ripped out the traffic lights, road markings and some pedestrian crosswalks; then they put in a traffic circle. But they didn’t replace any of the signs – speed limit, who has the right of way; none of them.
Goofy, huh? But it worked. Traffic slides through that intersection more smoothly than when the lights and warning signs were there, and with fewer accidents. The idea may sound crazy, but it’s catching on, from Holland and Denmark to England and Palm Beach, Fla.
Fewer signs and traffic lights, less distance between cars and people on the sidewalk; people have to pay attention to what they’re doing. So they drive safer.
It’s time for us to drive on out of here. We’ll see you later.