Across the United States, the coronavirus outbreak has significantly decreased vehicle travel. Particularly in metropolitan areas, fewer vehicle trips have led to reduced delays, a decrease in car crashes and accident fatalities, as well as improved air quality and a reduction in carbon emissions. A recent survey of 1,000 American drivers indicates that over 70% believe road congestion to increase travel time and personal stress, make driving more dangerous, and worsen air quality.1 As current circumstances show, changes in travel demand and a reduction of vehicle trips can reverse these negative impacts of congestion.
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Unfortunately, the coronavirus will likely have a lasting impact on how people travel. The use of public transit and mobility services have already declined sharply. It is expected that wariness over the virus will lead to an increase in personal vehicle use. This will reverse gains from initiatives that have aimed to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips.
As we transition back to normal routines, it is worth reflecting upon how transportation system performance, road safety, and air quality have improved in areas with reduced vehicle traffic. We should use this opportunity to work toward sustaining these improvements going forward. Even small reductions in vehicle trips can have large impacts on transportation operations. By creating a dialogue about responsible demand management and applying best practices from the intelligent transportation systems (ITS) industry, some current benefits of reduced vehicle traffic may be maintained in the future.
“ITS solutions are designed to optimize traffic flows, and can positively affect factors such as vehicle emissions, air quality, and road safety,” said Chris Murray, president of Kapsch TrafficCom North America (Kapsch). “The question now is how to go beyond solutions that mitigate the symptom of road congestion, and address the problem of too many vehicles on the roads to begin with. At Kapsch, we recognize the positive impacts that recent home-office arrangements and staggered schedules have had on commuting patterns, and plan to offer flexible work options going forward to sustain these benefits. Current circumstances offer a chance to create responsible travel demand strategies through social and lifestyle incentives, integrated mobility programs, and transportation charging.”
Kapsch is a globally-operating technology company with proven ITS solutions that have been implemented around the world. Its applications include traffic management systems for highways and cities, electronic tolling systems, and connected vehicle programs and product suites. “We will continue to work with transportation agencies and municipalities to develop customized solutions for their unique requirements,” continued Chris Murray. “Going forward, we should all be talking about how to manage travel demand in a smart, equitable, and holistic way that benefits travelers, road operators, and the environment as well. This is an opportunity to make adjustments to our behavior and travel patterns for the future.”
Kapsch TrafficCom is a provider of intelligent transportation systems in the fields of tolling, traffic management, smart urban mobility, traffic safety and security, and connected vehicles. As a one-stop solutions provider, Kapsch TrafficCom offers end-to-end solutions covering the entire value creation chain of its customers, from components and design to the implementation and operation of systems. The mobility solutions supplied by Kapsch TrafficCom help make road traffic safer and more reliable, efficient, and comfortable in urban areas and on highways while helping to reduce pollution.
Kapsch TrafficCom is an internationally renowned provider of intelligent transportation systems thanks to the many projects it has brought to successful fruition in more than 50 countries around the globe. As part of the Kapsch Group, Kapsch TrafficCom with headquarters in Vienna, has subsidiaries and branches in more than 30 countries. It has been listed in the Prime Market of the Vienna Stock Exchange since 2007 (ticker symbol: KTCG). Kapsch TrafficCom‘s about 5,000 employees generated revenues of EUR 738 million in fiscal year 2018/19.
1 The Kapsch TrafficCom index was conducted with the support of a professional market research firm. A total of 9,000 representative participants in nine countries were asked their views on their current traffic situation, road congestion and strategies to improve traffic management: USA (N=1,000), Argentina (N=1,000), Chile (N=1,000), UK (N=1,000), Germany (N=1,000), Austria (N=1,000), France (N=1,000), Spain (N=1,000), Australia (N=1,000).