4 Best Traffic Apps

Tired of traffic jams? There’s no doubt that running into traffic is frustrating. Often, this happens when you’re in a hurry. Luckily, technology has made it possible to know how to avoid traffic and arrive at your destination in time. This post takes a look at 4 best traffic apps you should consider using on your smartphone.

1. Google Maps

Good things in life are free, right? Google Maps is one such traffic app that can help you avoid traffic jams. It’s a common navigation app that is found on most Android devices. The application has evolved over the years and is more than just a navigation tool. You can use it to know how traffic moves and which places to avoid.

Plus, Google Maps can also be used to find the shortest routes to your destination. So, besides avoiding traffic, the software can help you find alternative shorter routes, saving time and money.

Key Features:

  • Real-time transit information
  • Real-time ETAs
  • Discover places

2. Waze

If you’re looking to join a community of people who are always looking out for each other in terms of traffic, then Waze is the right app for you. Waze has many fans, and it works on the idea that people can help each other escape traffic snarls. When using this platform, you can get real-time updates from community-generated alerts. For example, you can alert others to avoid specific routes when you run into traffic.

So, Waze works best when there are many users on it. One exciting aspect of this app is that it offers better voice directions compared to Google Maps.

Key Features:

  • Superb voice-guided navigation
  • Community-generated warnings and alerts

3. INRIX

INRIX is another good traffic app with amazing features. It comes with a traffic news section that keeps users updated on real-time traffic, accidents, constructions, road closures, and more.

The app provides clear directions to your destination, making it easier for you to navigate. If you have a common route to your place of work, you can save it. The traffic app will keep you updated about your daily route with personalized alerts on the specific road.

Key Features:

  • Good traffic camera feeds
  • Cloud sync for real-time notifications
  • Traffic map with detailed info

4. Apple Maps App

Apple Maps App is a worthy competitor to Google Maps, especially for the millions of people using iOS platforms. Apple Maps app provides enhanced satellite and map imagery, cycling navigation, and city guides.

Having this app on your smartphone can give you regular updates about your routes and the best time to travel. It also provides informative reviews about your points of interest. These can help you make intelligent choices about your destinations.

You can download Apple Maps to your iPad device.

Key Features:

  • Enhanced satellite and maps imagery
  • Real-time city guides

With these traffic apps, you no longer need to worry about arriving late. You can get real-time notifications about the best routes to take. But, it’s always essential to plan your trip early to avoid any inconveniences.

Who Drives on Which side of the Road?

The world of travel and commuting has it’s fun trivia like…the fact that train tracks are as far apart as the width between tires on a Roman chariot, or that there is an interstate highway in Hawaii. Some of the trivia though, could impact you if you travel, like today’s post on which countries drive on which side of the road.

So we decided to take a look at this less critical travel and transportation topic that could possibly cause a lot of confusion if you aren’t prepared for it.

Driving on the Left

The obvious reason most countries that do drive on the left side of the road do is that they were a former British colony. We’ll dive into why the UK does it soon, but it may surprise you how many countries do. 76 according to Business Insider, compared to 163 countries (or territories) that drive on the right. 30% of the population but only 25% of the roads and only one sixth of the worlds land area.

Driving on the left happens around the globe, about one third of the worlds drivers do it in regions like  Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, and Oceania. (Full list and graphics to follow.) In fact, Oceania is entirely left side driving currently.

Why they started driving on the left or right?

If countries formerly associated with England drive on the left because England does, why does England do it. Well, no one know for certain. Theories range from reasonable to ridiculous but the one you’ve probably heard most is that right-handed people draw their sword from the left and passing on the left allowed for a swift repost should the need arise.

Another theory, which frankly sounds more British, is that the upper crust preferred passing on the left and passing on the right was a trait of commoners. It also would explain why the US would decide to do it differently than those stuffy Brits.

One reason we doubt the sword explanation is that horseless carriages drove on whatever side of the road they liked until there were enough cars on the road to bother making a rule, which happened at Least in Brittan is 1835 with the Highway Act.

If train tracks trace back to Rome then does which side of the road we stick to? There isn’t a historical record but examination of cobblestone wear patterns suggests that they drove their chariots down the middle and if they needed to pass each other they did so on the right.

This likely resulted from the fact that right handed people would hold a horse whip in their right hands and have more room to use it if they stood on the left side of their chariot to drive it. Rome had a big influence on England so why would England drive on the left side instead of the right?

Ironically, we have better records of Ireland insisting that drivers stick to the left. As early as 1793, rules required a 10 shilling fine for driving on the right side of the road. This brings some to speculate that the Celts drove their wagons etc. on the left and since Rome was an invader their driving preference didn’t trump the native preference.

At this point its primarily culture and tradition. Well that and switching is a pain.

Countries that Switched

It does happen that countries bite the bullet and make a switch. In the 1960s both Sweden and Iceland made the switch from Left to Right, probably because the overwhelming majority of Europe drives on the right.

In 2009 Samoa switched the opposite direction, from right to left, but for the same reason, New Zealand and Australia both drive on the Left.

Between 1919 and 1986, 34 of the Left-hand countries and territories switched to Right side driving.

Noteworthy: Rotterdam was Left side drivers until 1917, while the rest of the Netherlands were Right-siders.

How to Prepare if you’re Planning a Trip

The side of the road you drive on tends to determine which side of the car gets the steering wheel. So it can be jarring to not only remember which side to be on, but to do it from the “passenger side” of the vehicle.

Source Insider Inc.

The subtle points are deciding where to watch other cars when you are passing them, or remembering which way to watch for traffic when waiting to make a turn.

If it’s too hard to drive from the odd side of the vehicle, you can technically take your own car to a new country. Just as you can drive your car into Canada or Mexico, you don’t have to operate your vehicle from the side of the car most people do when driving on the side of the road it’s legal to drive on. The primary reason most people don’t think to bring their own car is water. More specifically the oceans etc. that tend to separate countries that drive on the Left from those that drive on the right.

Insurance?

If you’ve ever read your insurance policy (some of us nerds do) than you know you are insured for specific situations. If you move your home address, for example, it should really impact your insurance status, but it does. (Mainly because your chance of losing the car to theft might change.)

So it’s worth asking, does my insurance cover me when I drive on the other side of the road (in a country where I’m supposed to–not just for funzies.)

The simplest answer is probably, yes. Insurance companies factor in things like, which country is nearby. So just like your Montana Insurance doesn’t typically stop at the border to Canada, your UK insurance doesn’t stop when you drive the Chunnel into France.

You may be more effected by rules such as enhanced licenses vs passports vs green cards etc. You license and insurance will probably still cover you, but your license may be inadequate to use as identification, which is a real brain twister if you think too much about it.

You should look at the rules before traveling as you may need to show more than license and proof of insurance in some countries. For example when driving in the EU in a rented vehicle, you will need a document that shows the owner knows you are driving it outside it’s country of register.

When taking your car to the UK, for example, they don’t have any problems with the fact that the steering wheel is on the wrong side, but they have strict rules for importing any vehicle and you’ll have to pay many taxes.

Interesting Exceptions

Okay to have interesting exceptions we would need to have a standard rule that we’re taking exception to and so far we’ve only indicated one or two. They are 1) most countries either follow the tradition of a country that once ruled them or 2) They switched to match countries they share borders with.

Here are some exceptions.

In Africa the major influence for left was England, and Portugal. The major influence for right is France. While most of Portugal’s former colonies switched to Right driving at some point, as did Portugal itself, except for Mozambique which stayed Left. South Sudan has it’s independence and despite having two neighbors that drive on the Left they have retained right hand driving. Rwanda and Burundi are Right Hand Driving but are actively considering switching to Left.

All of Canada is Left driving despite being former British Empire. This isn’t so much an exception because they match the US and who wouldn’t want to match the US? Interestingly, Newfoundland, joined Canada in 1949 but had already switched to Right driving just two years before. Of course the former French Provinces were always right driving, but BC, New BrunswickNova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, all changed to the Right in the early 1920’s.

Conspicuously, the US Virgin Islands are the only US affiliated country that doesn’t drive on the right.

Also, we indicated that unless someone brought their car with them, most cars in a country that keeps left have a steering wheel on the right and vice versa. This is not true in certain cases. For example the islands of the Caribbean and nearby. The closest big car maker is the US and while a large number of the islands were former British colonies they tend to import there cars from the US.

(Note US Virgin Islands drive on the left in vehicles that are designed for right sided driving despite being aligned with the US. Some people are just obstinate we suppose.)

Another common exception, right here in the US is commercial vehicles like parking enforcement or mail carriers which were purpose built with a steering wheel on the right.

List of Lefty Countries

Green = Left, Black = Right

Europe

  • Channel Islands
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Malta
  • Cyprus

Asia

  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • East Timor
  • Hong Kong
  • India 
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Macao
  • Malaysia 
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
Green = Left, Black = Right

Oceania 

  • Australia
  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos Islands
  • Cook Islands
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati 
  • Nauru
  • New Zealand
  • Niue
  • Norfolk Island
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Pitcairn Islands
  • Solomon Islands
  • Samoa 
  • Tokelau Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
Green = Left, Black = Right

Africa

  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius 
  • Mozambique 
  • Namibia
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
Green = Left, Black = Right

The Americas:

  • Anguilla 
  • Antigua 
  • The Bahamas 
  • Barbados 
  • Bermuda 
  • British Virgin Islands 
  • Cayman Islands 
  • Dominica
  • Falkland Islands 
  • Grenada 
  • Guyana 
  • Jamaica 
  • Montserrat 
  • St Kitts-Nevis 
  • St Lucia 
  • Saint Vincent 
  • Suriname 
  • Trinidad and Tobago 
  • Turks and Caicos Islands 
  • Virgin Islands (U.S.) 

Can a Dash Cam Get You Out Of a Ticket?

A dashboard camera or dash cam, as the name indicates, is a camera that is attached to the dashboard of your car. When an accident occurs, a dash cam is supposed to function as a “silent witness” by recording everything that happens on the road, from the time of impact until help arrives.

While you may have an impeccable driving record, keep in mind that not everyone on the road is a safe driver, and accidents can occur. The dash cam was never meant to be an accident-prevention device, but rather a recording device that would provide an impartial record of what occurred in the event of an accident.

Every driver has had to deal with traffic penalties at some point in their driving career, regardless of whether they’ve been behind the wheel for a few months or decades. Perhaps you were rushing to get to work on time and sped up to avoid a ticket. Alternatively, you may have overlooked that your taillight was out in the first place. But occasionally, we get a ticket for a crime we didn’t commit. Installing a dash cam can help you drive safer but also get you out of a ticket. Here are some types of most common tickets among drivers and how installing a dash cam can get you out of them.

Dash Cams Helping You Out of Speeding Tickets

Many people have gotten pulled over for speeding. It is one of the most common tickets a driver will face throughout the year. This is also something that can be hard to prove in a court of law. It’s your word against the officer who gave you the ticket. If you have proof from a dash cam about how fast you were going and the speed of the street, you are more likely to prove your innocence. Each modern dash cam has a built-in GPS that also tracks how fast your car is going.

Illegal Turns or Stops

Your installed dashboard camera will be able to pick up when you use your blinker at a light or when you stop. It records everything for your safety and others. Once you take this footage to court, it will help the judge understand if you are at fault or not.

Cell Phone Usage

In most states, it is illegal to use your phone while driving. However, for many police officers, it can also be hard to see through windows; they have to make an educated guess on what you are doing. If you install a dual-facing dash cam, it will also record what is going on inside of the car. This can help prove if you were not on the phone the time your ticket happened.

Helps Identify If You Wore a Seatbelt

It is illegal to not wear a seatbelt while driving in many states. This is another instance when a dual-facing dash cam will come in handy to prove that you are wearing one while driving.

Should You Get a Dash Cam?

You probably think you are a good driver, but mistakes do happen. Police officers are responsible for keeping the streets safe, and sometimes it may look like you did something you didn’t do at all. Installing a dashboard camera is the best way to record your surroundings but also record your own actions to prove your way out of a speeding ticket.

Without one of the dashboard cameras, you may not have proof. It may come down to your account of things, and the police officer’s account of things, especially if no other cameras are recording the area. It is important to have something that will record an unbiased video of what happened during an incident.

The Difficulties With Rural Roads.

The Department of Transport’s statistics do not look good: 50% of all deaths happen on rural roads. Despite only 25% of all driving being on rural roads. Some of the reasons behind this is that rural roads tend to be narrower, so you are more likely to be run off the road. It also means you are more likely to find a truck or van heading the other way a bit more of a challenge.

Road Conditions

There’s often no center line and no traffic signs. There are inadequate preparations for snow and less likely to be a barrier for a railroad. There are more ditches, streams and so on. Even worse, the road is more likely to be flooded. There are also blind bends and blind dips. Even looking at the scenery can cause distraction.

According to the US Department of Transport, half of all non-highway roads are rated as between “fair and poor” and 13% rated as “poor,” which appears to be the lowest classification.

Obstructions

You are also more likely to encounter speeding or drunk drivers who assume the road to be empty. Then there’s agricultural machinery. Or cyclists. A tree too close to the road can be dangerous. There are problems like cows, sheep on the road.

Texas has the most rural deaths per capita whereas South Carolina ranks as the highest number of deaths as a percentage.

Fixing Infrastructure

It could take decades to fix if it ever gets done, there is more than $200 billion missing in funding. Roads need to be widened, you need rails, lighting and so on.

Bridges may be a greater threat to life than just rural roads. 8% may not be fit for purpose or “structurally deficient” and not suitable for trucks or farm equipment. Over the past few years farmers have increased the amount of farming equipment but the quandary remains how to transport this equipment.

It’s not just farm equipment and trucks, it’s been a prevalent problem for school and college buses. The only solution seems to be smaller buses but again, the price of operation is the key.

So, what can these drivers do?

Either risk their lives or go totally out of their way. If they do travel out of their way it is inefficient and costly.

When the bridge is closed the road itself becomes less useful, so people who live on that road find the road isn’t repaired as often. So, the only solution is to have local residents pay for the bridge or have no transport network at all. If they can’t pay that may cause difficulty in itself with their neighbors.

Even when a bridge is rated fair it could still be prone to some deterioration given a few years, whether it is the suspension part of the bridge or the deck or roadway part of the bridge.

Traffic Patterns

Just because a road is rural doesn’t mean it won’t have pique traffic times. Speeds are higher on rural roads which can disguise the true number of cars that pass a given stretch of road. When a couple new housing developments go into a large area road use can double at certain intersections.

The high crash rates in certain black spots is cause for concern and sometimes the only answer is to build another road but again this requires more money.

The connections between places are key, but the smaller roads are vital for some people too, even if it is a lesser proportion of society. Rural roads can be beautiful and connecting people who choose to live outside the hustle of city life to their jobs, schools, shopping and emergency services is worth doing. But we may have forgotten the old adage, anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Foreign Roads

Exploring foreign roads fully changes your perspective. It’s one of the best ways to expand your understanding of the different ways things we do every day can be done. The problem is navigating the things that are not the same as at home.

Every country does it differently:

What side of the road am I supposed to be on? What condition do they keep their roads in?

I bet you didn’t even thing to ask if the other drivers passed a recognized driving license test. Some countries let you buy your license which can be a surprise if you come from one that requires a test. It’s important to look into what other documents you need by law.

It’s a good idea to review the more obvious laws of the country they are driving in.

Next you have to consider what problems may affect the environment, anything from strong weather to natural disasters. Some roads in some countries flood routinely and locals hardly think to mention it.

It’s best to check and recheck the route of the journey beforehand. It’s a good idea to use a GPS it often updates with weather conditions accidents and the like. Look out too for GPS updates. It’s important that your system reacts to changes in speed limit.

If you rent a car check out everything including the headlights, tire tread, brakes, oil, water and so on. Take note of any scratches and dents you might see.

Some emergency equipment will be highly useful – everything from jump leads, the spare tire, a hazard triangle (again depending on the country), tow rope and extinguisher as well as the all-important first aid kit. In a number of countries, you can be arrested for not having the right equipment.

It’s a good idea not to speed, especially if the roads are unreliable. It’s never advisable to drive in a tired state.

Another easy to overlook item is that not all traffic police chase you in cars, some stand at the side of the road waving at you to stop. Also, not all of them are reliable – some may place a fake ticket on you-so it’s best to check it.

Look at getting fully comprehensive insurance – it may be the costlier choice, but it will be worth it.

It may be best to stay with the rest of the traffic as other drivers tend to know what they are doing. It may be wise to make a point to review what local road signs look like and mean before you go.

It should come as little surprise that most road accidents occur in countries with the lowest incomes, so road safety is important. In conjunction with the Red Cross and Red Crescent there are a number of projects out there to reduce the deaths in developing countries, whether by education, legislating or equipment.

One such enterprise is the 7% Campaign which finances motorcycle helmets for children from Thailand; only 7% of Thai motorcyclists currently wear helmets. This project is also supported by Save The Children and works with the public authorities of Thailand.

If your business involves logistics, it’s especially hard to drive a truck on more treacherous roads. It’s a good idea to become a member of the International Road Federation, a not-for-profit company which has been in operation since 1948. They provide information on roads around the world and advocate best practices. They also run a series of webinars.

Where Hybrid Cars Are Going

OP-ED by Editors

In the beginning of the twentieth century, it made environmental sense to buy hybrid vehicles despite the prices meaning that only celebrities could really afford to drive them. But now hybrids are passé, and the move is toward all-electric (EVs).

If you think about this, it is incredibly slow. If only a few people drove hybrids twenty years and now only a sizable minority drive hybrids it will probably take another twenty years for them to become the norm and that’s only hybrid cars, not electric cars.

A ban on passenger cars (just passenger cars it seems) with the usual Internal Combustion Engine (I.C.E.) has been mapped out but it is believed that hybrids will stick around until 2035.

New Hybrids

A self-charging hybrid was the traditional way these cars gained power; the energy when you decelerate or operate the brake feeds power back into the power system. The batteries didn’t hold that much energy meaning that any electricity generated won’t last you a mile and you can’t drive in electric mode for more than 30 mph. These aren’t considered EVs.

Even on paper, the new version, plug-in hybrids, are so much better with larger batteries and the electricity generated can reach about 30 mph or so. They do need to be fully charged in order to get the right amount of benefit.

Another point about plug-in hybrids is that they are good if you don’t want to go fully electric. If you drive them on electric power, they don’t emit pollution from the battery. They require a 120V outlet in order to fully charge. Some models switch to hybrid at about 60-70mph as well as stopping the engine when the car is at a red light or if it is in traffic.

As with the other form of hybrid, the energy created through braking is stored in the engine which is smaller than a combustion engine.

Why aren’t Hybrids Quickly Being Replaced?

A battery electric vehicle has no back up system and relies entirely on the electric stored within it. There are no emissions from this engine at all. However, if you want to take trip, say over 300 miles you’ll have to stop for 20 to 30 minutes every couple hundred miles to charge it.

Other drawbacks to EVs include the environmental impact to mine the battery material, the damage to the environment when disposing of the batteries (which only last so long), and the fact that our electrical grid wasn’t built to charge all the cars as well as power houses. In fact, many places still use coal to generate electricity so one might ask, “how environmentally sound is powering your car with electricity?”

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

The new type of electric vehicle is the fuel cell electric vehicle where the battery converts hydrogen gas into electricity which can be used to power the car. This would alleviate the range issues. These types of cars are only just appearing on the market.

Car manufacturers Toyota, Honda and Hyundai seem to favour fuel cells, especially as it allows power to be charged in a matter of minutes. The hydrogen fuelling infrastructure still isn’t in place yet, and it’s hard to say how tricky that will be to build.

One study for Energy magazine in 2016 says people won’t go for fuel cells unless they are cheaper than battery power. The study author went on to state that this is unlikely to happen in the near future.

The car manufacturers who wish to keep with battery power include Chevrolet and Tesla. It will be interesting to see if they move to fuel cells in the future, especially Tesla. Tesla is an all-electric car manufacturer founded in 2003. It’s gone from the side-lines to a major player in that time. But any hybrid or electric car manufacturer is worth watching because it’s big business at the moment.

Types of Junctions (Intersections)

From the UK Desk

There are many ways to have a junction and one of the most confusing is probably the box junction. They were designed to prevent the road being blocked yet many drivers find them hard to negotiate. Many people “find themselves” disobeying the rules by accident.

Box Junctions

A box junction is marked by criss-cross lines (or alternately a giant X) in a box. You can only enter the box if the specific exit you are heading for is clear or you have an intention to make a turn, but you have to wait for the traffic in the opposite lane (oncoming) to stop.

About the same time as speed cameras became popular (with city governments, not with commuters) box junctions also became monitored by enforcement cameras. As a result they became labelled as “money box junctions.”

Items such as level crossing and the areas around ambulance stations and fire stations also use box junctions to suggest that drivers should avoid staying in these areas too long.

The introduction of the box junction was in 1967 in London, though it can now be seen throughout the world, including the US.

Three-way Junctions

A three-way junction may be a road with three arms, also known as a Y junction or intersection. A T junction may be described as a minor road joining up with a larger road.

When these types of roads aren’t being controlled by traffic lights you need to look at “right of way” rules. It seems more logical for traffic entering the main road to wait, but that oten isn’t the case.

A six-way junction usually has two roads crossing at right angles and the additional road crossing diagonally between them (if you are on the diagonal road, it looks as if the two roads are intersecting you in two V shapes).

The Reason for Roundabouts

Roundabouts are nearly universally hated by Americans and Embraced by Brits. UK roads come in two varieties.

A) Saxon Roads which developed during early tribal periods where some animal, likely a cow, wandered from place to place as it saw fit. Then because the grass and brush was pushed aside humans turned it into a trail, which later became a single lane road, eventually getting paved. These roads are very practical for getting from place to place, and tend to go around hills and cross rivers at the best place to ford.

B) Romans Roads by contrast, go straight North/South, or East/West. The seldom move around a hill they simply go over them or tunnel through them. The don’t twist or meander. The advantage here is that cities can be laid out in grid patterns, making it easier to find places you want to go. Most of the Roman roads between cities have been turned into highways.

In the UK, this left many junctions of three, four, five, or even six roads converging at all sorts of angles. A roundabout allows for all these roads to enter where they happen to intersect the junction and traffic can merge briefly, then exit on whatever road fits the need.

A secondary benefit of traffic circles is that traffic is told to yield, not stop, making them very efficient.

In the US, there are some odd junctions, often with monikers such as “Five Corners,” that could do with a roundabout. That’s of course not where the government decides to put them. Someone, usually in the traffic department at state or local level, falls in love with traffic circles and decides to use them at busy four-way stop junctions, rather than a traffic light. The result is that instead of having to pull your vehicle forward one car length at a time—dozens of times in a row—traffic can use yield and maintain a steady flow. Sounds good except that about 10% of the time they put stop signs up instead of yield at the roundabout. Even when they use yield signs American drivers are so unaccustomed to roundabouts that they get confused and cause delays.

Strange Intersections

There are a number of strange intersections in the world such as the Downtown Loop, also known as the Alphabet Loop, Kansas which consists of eight different highways joining together in 23 exits. All the letters of the alphabet are used except I, O and Z.

Swindon’s Magic Roundabout

As well as roads like Broadway, Oak Street and the romantic Grand Avenue there is a road which acts as a loop road.

Created by the UK’s British Transport Road Research Laboratory the most confusing road junction is Swindon’s magic roundabout. The instructions for use are deceptively simple; the traffic in the inner roundabout moves counter-clockwise and the traffic in the outer roundabouts move in a clockwise direction.

Because of the initial confusion to motorists the roundabout needed a pilot stage. Here a police officer was placed in the middle of each mini-roundabout, strange as it may seem.

Other strange junctions include the seagull junction which has a variety of other names such as the Turbo-T junction. They allow free flowing traffic both for the lane that enters the main road and for the road that leaves. These are called “turn lanes”.

A piece of research from 2019 stated that a seagull junction isn’t that safe if the road separates into four lanes and as such the risk of crashing is heightened. It’s almost best to be wary of any unfamiliar junction in any case.

The most important thing when taking a junction is getting to your intended destination, so good luck with that!

Traffic optimization and control

As a driver it helps to know in advance where the areas of congestion are, the amount of parking spaces in metropolitan car lots as well as knowing areas where speed limits have been reduced. Traffic optimization is the science, or at least skill, of reducing the time spent at traffic lights.

How cities prioritize funds:

Sometimes cars have to cope with roads which haven’t been repaired for some time and are full of potholes. It is a challenge to cope on these roads at the best of times, hence why road surface is dealt with first before items such as congestion.

If there is too much traffic in one place (not just clogged up vehicles but also too many cars at a certain time of day) will increase exhaust emissions in that area. You can decrease this by having other ways for the public to reach an area, creating different hubs in a town (essentially removing the high street as the go-to zone, which may not be possible either in a huge metropolis) or having rush hours at different times.

The lights need to be synchronised and need to allow for emergency vehicles to pass through easily.

Traffic Calming?

The contrasting term for all this is “traffic calming” which stops speeding and encourages more responsible driving. As well as reducing air pollution and the increased traffic noise is addressed.

Noisy, polluted streets are not the best to live on; according to Donald Appleyard’s Liveable Streets study a resident on a non-polluted, non-noisy street would have three times as many friends/acquaintances on average compared to those who do not. The study compared three streets in San Francisco, each with a different total of cars per day.

Reducing “cognitive load”

Speed Bump

Cognitive load is just fancy was to say making driving more difficult – it pushes traffic off crowded direct routes onto otherwise long ways around. Sometimes the goal is to make it easier to avoid a town entirely.

Speed Table

There’re speed bumps, speed tables (basically a longer hump) and speed dip. As with natural dips the sudden drop means traffic slows up as it approaches the obstacle. There’s also chicanes which is a curve in a road.

Other techniques are narrowing roads and removing lanes-”road diets”. Converting one-way streets to two ways requires more careful driving. Unfortunately, this process does produce more accidents in the first couple of weeks or so.

So basically, government prioritizes road maintenance (fixes potholes) so traffic can flow without building up exhaust, then puts speed bumps (reverse potholes) on the roads to encourage alternate routes.

How does changing the operating hours change the traffic?

A study published in March 2020 used a fairly medium-ish city in China (Ningbo) which has a similar grid shape to Manhattan.

The study worked off an extremely urban area of the city with financial buildings and high-class restaurants. Working off mathematical principles each section of business traffic was measured – 40% of it being from retail and shops. In altering the time traffic moved through the city there was a definite reduction of traffic. As it was only published last year there hasn’t been enough time to establish how practical removing the 9 to 5 is. Only that it creates better streets to dwell on, which at least makes it more desirable for locals.

Cars and Headaches

What causes headaches in a car? Some kids get headaches in a car watching TV or using tablets. The new car smell could start a headache, which does seem unfortunate if you’re lucky to be driving a new car.

Flickering lights may cause migraines – these are generally found when driving late in the afternoon or at night. A similar night-time concern is eyestrain. But driving in the bright sunny hours could also cause a headache, more specifically driving towards the sun’s glare which can be prevented by sunglasses. The beeping of horns and the rush of trucks doesn’t help either.

Migraines

Even worse, a specific type of migraine – hemiplegic migraine – causes a migraine on one side of the face. It is actually forbidden to drive or use machinery if you are prone to hemiplegic migraine.

Tinnitus, an ear-ringing sound, may affect your ability to drive.

Changing altitudes could also trigger a migraine.

Nausea and vomiting are associated with headaches and can be dangerous for drivers behind the wheel. Your vision may also be affected leading to blurred vision, seeing spots or not being able to see objects at the side of your vision which you normally would.

A little-known fact is that the posture of how you sit when driving can also cause headaches, such as not having your shoulders pulled back. This can put pressure at the top of the spine. A “posterior headache” or a headache at the back of the brain is common among truck drivers as the seat and inflexible kind, so it is better to adjust it for your height and make it as comfortable as possible. Having stretches at the usual rest stops can help prevent this condition.

A tension headache is specific to people who drive for long periods, especially on a cold day. It’s a dull head pain, different from a migraine. It’s not unusual to get facial pain.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Headaches

To reduce the chance of a migraine you should find time to plan ahead, know where you are going. To keep the pressure down, stick all your travel details together such as maps, booking info and so on. Eat well, no processed food, find a good source of protein, fat and fiber. Hunger means a decrease in blood sugar levels. There may be obstacles doing this at usual rest stops. Watch out for time zone differences too.

As well as food it’s a good idea to have a bottle of water handy as it can prevent being dehydrated and this can lead to a migraine. Bad drivers tend to clench their teeth or grind their teeth while in tough driving situations. But this tends to cause tension in the face and then headache.

Don’t overdo it, when not driving it’s best to take a break, especially if it’s a long journey.

If you do feel a migraine or headache coming on, pull off the road. If the migraine continues for some time – and unfortunately some of the worst headaches can continue for 3 days – get a friend to pick you up if it’s at all possible.

It’s always the best route to remain safe on the road.

Driving Phobia – What Can Be Done?

Why are there so many names for fear of driving? It has names like motorphobia as well as amaxophobia or ochlophobia. Well, there are a number of things about driving to be afraid of, if the act of driving isn’t enough on it’s own.

Mild Cases

Sometimes it isn’t all that severe, just a few symptoms such as sweaty palms, shortness of breath and a dry mouth whenever you feel like you don’t know where you’re going. Doing things such as visiting new places involves concentration as a driver. Having passengers can make it twice as difficult to perform new tasks. If you feel a bit “mazed” it’s a good idea to find a safe place to take a break.

Then there are the stronger fears. It may be caused at special places like driving over a bridge, changing lanes or driving at night. They fear something bad happening. They may also avoid specific roads, especially if it is connected with an accident. Sometimes they continue to drive more or less normally but suffer discomfort and distress.

An accident for example may possibly mean that you cannot go out in the car again. In some severe cases being adjacent to, or proxy of, can trigger a panic attack. For example, it can also be caused by being in heavy traffic even when you aren’t the one driving. Or, an acquaintance being in an accident not witnessed by you. Or  getting lost (especially in built up areas). In some extreme situations a person might be triggered even watching accidents on television.

Symptoms of amaxophobia include panic, confusion, palms sweating, and quickened heartbeat. It is always a possible to hyperventilate. They may attempt to apply brakes in the car while not actually driving – phantom braking, so a feeling that they aren’t in control and want to change things.

Treatment:

The treatment can include psychotherapy support or behaviour therapy. Having a fear of driving long term (presumably you continue driving) could lead to heart disease.

There may be a lack of understanding from your loved ones who just want a lift. Other people who may lack sympathy could possibly be your employers as many jobs require you to drive. So, your driving phobia could prove costly in the long run as it limit what you can do.

For all these reasons, it’s important to seek help as quickly as possible. Ultimately the best treatment seems to be going back to driving.

Other driving tips:

Other helpful tips are to drive during the day only and have someone with you as much as possible. You may find medication or support groups on phobia could help. Therapy may help get rid of the panic and negative thoughts. A more modern treatment is virtual reality, a type of exposure therapy in a simulated world. Performing the tasks you did in real life, but in a simulator could possibly boost your confidence.

When you return to the car it is worthwhile creating calmness in the car by soothing music, unless it’s at a point when you are tired in which case it’s a no-no. Also try to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. A business suit or similar may not encourage you and it’s likely that you will tense up.

It is unlikely that more experienced drivers will suffer from this condition, but they may do under enough pressure. Again, what is needed is a bit of sympathy if possible.