Policy alternatives: Strict Main Highway Traffic Laws
In a world where cars are king, roads dominate the landscape, and our air is so polluted we spend one day in eight hidden indoors under smog alerts, I would like to propose an expanded set of traffic laws for our major highways.
When operating a vehicle on a divided, limited access highway, cdlu's alternative Main Highway Traffic Laws state the following:
All vehicle traffic shall be limited to the lane representing the number of human occupants of the vehicle, counted from the rightmost lane, including commercial freight and passenger vehicles. For example, a car occupied by three people may use the rightmost three lanes, while a car occupied by only one person is strictly limited to the right lane, and a bus with 26 passengers on it is free to use any lane up to a maximum of the 26th.
Hybrid and low emissions vehicles shall receive a one lane bonus, and zero-emission vehicles shall receive a two lane bonus, and may operate in lanes to the left of where they would normally be allowed to operate appropriate to their bonus.
The speed limit for each lane shall be 10 km/h higher than the lane to its right, starting at a minimum of 110km/h in most cases.
Speed limits shall be limits, not recommendations, and shall be reasonable for the roads. Speed limit signs may be posted as Min/Recommended/Max.
The result would be:
- A powerful incentive for commuters and travellers to carpool, or use mass or public transportation.
- A serious reduction in total vehicle emissions.
- A reduction in wear-based road maintenance costs.
- A reduction in highway expansion and infrastructure costs.
- A decrease in commercial vehicle road traffic and an associated increase in freight rail traffic.
- A reduction in the number of smog days.
- An increase in demand for emissions-free vehicles.
Would this cost any jobs?
Probably not, but it would require a seismic shift in careers as a whole. Truckers would be in lower demand, but bus drivers and train crews would be in higher demand.
Would our auto industry hurt?
No. They would simply need to start manufacturing vehicles they are already capable of manufacturing, such as GM's EV1 electric cars and Toyota's hybrids, to meet the new demand.
Would the oil industry hurt?
Not really, but I wouldn't shed any tears if they did. This would only really affect major urban areas, particularly large metropolises such as Montreal and Toronto with punishing rush hour traffic. Inter-city traffic would also be affected, driving people to find alternatives such as passenger rail, whose prices would need to come down to compete with cars rather than with planes.
Would commuters lose their jobs because they can longer get to work on time?
Not unless they are too stubborn to use public transportation. Odd-hour commutes would not be significantly different from what they are today, and on-peak commutes would be forced to car pool or use public transportation, which would in turn need to be expanded, though the highway maintenance and expansion savings from this scheme would easily pay for an expanded public transportation infrastructure in many cases.
This is the first in a possible series of half-serious policy ideas to get people thinking about the issues at their roots.
Posted at 16:59 on October 04, 2006
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