In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, gasoline prices have hit a record high, which has prompted a public outcry for the government to "do something." Federal and state officials can do much to reduce gasoline consumption, and in turn, the price of gas, by implementing existing regulations and enforcing laws already on the books.
The key to success is to work with, rather than against, motorists. With this in mind, there are several opportunities to reduce gasoline consumption, without resorting to rationing schemes or heavy-handed price controls:
* Synchronize Traffic Signals - In 2003, the City of San Jose, California started to coordinate its traffic light system. By altering the timing on just a third of the city's stoplights, traffic delays were reduced 33 percent and average travel time was reduced 16 percent. The city also estimated that this project significantly reduced fuel usage - saving approximately 471,000 gallons of gasoline each year.
* Properly Install Stop Signs - Stop signs are intended to control right-of-way at intersections, not to slow traffic or discourage motorists from taking certain routes. Improper stop sign installations increase noise, emissions, and gas usage. Confining stop sign installations to locations where traffic volume or intersection conditions make them necessary would save significant amounts of gasoline.
* Promote and Enforce Lane Courtesy - Lane courtesy, the practice of yielding the left lane to faster moving traffic, strongly influences highway safety, traffic flow, congestion, and the entire driving environment. Disregarding lane courtesy creates more congestion, and in turn, it contributes to speed fluctuations, both of which increase overall fuel consumption.
"Most people would be amazed by the fuel savings that would occur if these simple, well-proven, strategies were implemented," said Eric Skrum, NMA Communications Director. "There is an urgent need to properly implement traffic control measures that promote smoother traffic flow.