Congestion will cost the U.S. $2.8 trillion over the next 16 years. It’s a boggling figure – but that’s exactly what a new report by the Seattle-based INRIX and the Centre for Economics and Business Research(CEBR) has found. The direct and indirect costs of staring at tail lights and picking our noses reached $124 billion last year, and that figure is set to rise by 50 percent to $186 billion per year in 2030.
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INRIX is a provider of “real-time traffic information, transportation analytics and connected driver services,” that collects anonymous data from 180 million vehicles across the globe each day. The CEBR took this data and calculated the cost of peak traffic congestion. To calculate this, according to Forbes, the CEBR looked at: “three main sources of direct cost: time wasted whilst delayed in congested traffic; fuel wasted and the effect of traffic congestion on the environment. It also considered indirect costs, given that it is more expensive and time-consuming to transport goods or attend meetings in traffic congested cities.”
The sum of these costs amounted to an average of 68 hours and $1,736 wasted per U.S. household in 2013, bringing us to the total of $124 billion. Perhaps unsurprisingly Los Angeles accounts for a whopping 20 percent of the total – it’s a car-dependent sprawl of a city that is already in what some term a state of “carmaggedon.” But across the board, congestion is set to rise by as much as 50 percent over the next 16 years, so what can be done?
Kevin Foreman, General Manager of GeoAnalytics, INRIX explained in a press release that his company thinks public transit and ride share systems will not provide a whole solution to the problem—some regions are simply too entrenched in car culture. Instead, “technology innovations like multi-modal routing and real-time traffic in connected cars and on mobile devices should be adopted more widely, helping to create smarter cities worldwide.” Furthermore, Forbes suggests, autonomous cars could contribute to a smarter traffic system: “drivers could partially relinquish control of their cars, and the traffic [could] be better managed through the coordination of cars that talk to one another.”
The possibilities are vast, but as INRIX’s CEO Bryan Mistele explained to Forbes “the problem is doing nothing is really not an alternative – We’ll see a 50 percent increase in the cost of congestion over 15 years if we do nothing. Something needs to be done.”
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