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Social Cost of Traffic

See the attached video which proposes a method for measuring the energy efficiency of the American roadways.

Submitted by jon.parish 9 months ago

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Comments (4)

  1. jon.parish Idea Submitter

    Imagine opening Google Maps and overlaying "Gas Consumed" instead of traffic. You would see that each day, the DC beltway consumes about one tanker truck of gas per mile, but there are some sections that consume 2-3 tanker trucks of gasoline per mile.

    As citizens, we don't really see the total social cost of poor traffic management areas. With more data though, it could become very easy to build the business cases for fixing those areas.

    For one such area that burns an extra tanker truck of gas per day, you could calculate that society looses:

    ~$4 Million in wasted gasoline,

    ~3200 citizen-years of lost productivity. (~$128M)

    How much does it cost to fix this issue? The location I was referring to was primarily caused by an off-highway traffic light that is poorly timed and backs traffic up onto the highway, leading to highway backups. The fix would have a relatively trivial cost. Even if it wasn't, $4M per year in lost gas, and $128M in lost productivity provides lots of space for more expensive solutions. Adding new lanes sound expense at somewhere between $3M and $70M per lane-mile, even that is negligible compared to how much society looses on that stretch of highway.

    So, my data request is for the DOE to:

    1) Create modeling data for the average American car that translates GPS based time, speed and acceleration into gas consumption,

    2) Work with companies that collect U.S. vehicle GPS data such as Google, Apple, Waze, Garmin, etc. to convert their GPS data into gas and time consumption data,

    3) At least annually, provide the output as a data set for the American people in the form of:

    GPS location (rounded to the square yard),

    Total vehicle volume,

    traffic-free gas consumption per vehicle,

    average gas consumption per vehicle,

    traffic-free time consumption per vehicle,

    average traffic-free time consumption per vehicle.

    With that data, citizens will be able to generate the business case for identifying and fixing every non-optimal traffic problem in America. We'll be able to measure the energy efficiency of how our local governments manage our roadways.

    The promise of big data sets like this is that it will make finding those gas guzzling needles in the American roadway haystack so much easier that individual citizens can do it without any traffic management engineering degrees.

    8 months ago
  2. Excellent! Let's do it!

    8 months ago
  3. jon.parish Idea Submitter

    Another use for the data is to help individuals create their own business cases for fixing their local traffic problems. Using this data, I could plot my normal commute and have it estimate how much of my personal time and gas money is getting lost due to bad traffic design. It would show that I should gladly pay an additional $100-$900 per year to the government to fix the broken spots on my commute. It's not that I want to pay more for taxes, but rather I would learn that it makes good business sense to reduce the cost of my commute.

    8 months ago
  4. jon.parish Idea Submitter

    Another thing I really like about this data is that a few data nerds like me could sort through the data but everyone who drives on those roadways will benefit from the results. It's like how so few people provide content to Wikipedia when compared to the vast numbers of folks who benefit from it.

    8 months ago