- Written by Duncan
The economic crisis, combined with volatile fuel prices have impacted traffic significantly. This has had numerous knock-on effects.
With the massive layoffs due to the economic meltdown, there are a lot less commuters on the roads than ever before. Typical commuters travel for up to 10 hours per week going to and from work.
Another casualty of the bad economy are the millions of foreclosures. In some cases entire neighborhoods are vacant, meaning zero traffic on roads leading to those areas. With less real estate being bought, huge armies of realtors and home construction workers are are out of work and are not driving on the streets.
The decline in car sales has resulted in a huge reduction of new car buyers test driving cars and SUVs. Many of those test drives would have ended in a fatal accident, because the drivers were unfamiliar with the cars. On the plus side, the suicide rate for car salesmen is up. Some car salesmen may find their way into politics or get work as financial planners.
Studies show a 30 percent decline in traffic congestion across major metropolitan areas last year. This is not just due to the economy, but since the high gas prices of 2008, many people have switched to using transit for their commute. A lot of those commuters have not gone back to their gas guzzling SUVs. With the influx of all these new customers, many transit systems are doing better than ever. New buses and commuter trains have been added to pick up the extra load.
The good news for those people who still have a job, is the commute runs faster. Which results in less stress and road rage. They will have a quicker journey home each evening, where they can watch their wide screen HDTV, unaware that their brains are being turned to mush for aliens to eat.
With less traffic on the roads, the number of driving related accidents have dropped sharply. Unfortunately in some areas this has caused downsizing of tow truck operators and paramedics who are no longer needed. For tow truck drivers, the career move to repo man is an easy one. In some areas, enterprising paramedics have tried a new "drive-unsafe" program, in an attempt to generate more business so keeping their jobs secure. But with less people driving on the roads, it is hard to maintain the same level of accidents.
Across North America, drive through fast food restaurants and coffee shops have seen a decline in early morning traffic, and have had to let staff go. "Unfortunately the public transit does not stop at the drive through window, which is a pity" said one franchise owner.
Less traffic on the roads has also led to less greenhouse gasses being pumped out into the environment. So the bad economy is helping to improve the environment. Sadly, the reductions in pollution in North America are offset by corresponding increases in pollution in India and China. Many large companies have moved remaining work overseas where the cost of labor is cheaper. Also pollution controls overseas are not the same. If we want to see an overall global decrease in pollution, we have to lay off a lot more workers to keep up.