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Traffic Congestion in Los Angeles: The Hidden Dangers

Anyone who has ever hit the road in the Greater Los Angeles area will attest to the overwhelming traffic congestion that characterizes even the shortest of journeys. Not only is the daily aggravation caused by traffic jams actually detrimental to the overall health of motorists, but traffic congestion can pose many serious, even fatal risks.

L.A. traffic receives dubious recognition

A recent study released by transportation analytics firm INRIX confirmed what many have long suspected, namely that the region has the worst urban traffic congestion anywhere in the world. According to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, drivers in the region were stuck in traffic jams for an average of 104 hours per year, a figure representing 12.7 percent of their total time spent in the car. The overall cost of this world-leading congestion volume came to roughly $9.7 billion, as measured by wasted fuel and motorist time.

Array of dangers posed by traffic congestion

In addition to the financial costs of traffic delays, researchers suggest that there are numerous other harmful effects of congestion on those regularly caught in freeway gridlock. Heavy traffic can cause road rage that leads to collisions or confrontations. Impatience and anger on the road all too often result in dangerous tailgating, ill-advised lane changes and, in an unacceptable number of cases, injury accidents and worse.

Another ancillary effect of heavy traffic in urban areas such as Los Angeles is the difficulty posed for emergency response vehicles attempting to reach critical scenes in which immediate assistance is required. Firefighters, ambulance drivers and police are all too regularly thwarted in their efforts to provide a swift response to serious situations simply because they are unable to navigate clogged roadways as quickly as circumstances demand.

As urban sprawl continues to grow, commute times are growing longer and longer and a greater volume of vehicles utilize road infrastructure across southern California. An unintended side effect of this trend is that drivers are spending ever-increasing amounts of time behind the wheel, leaving home earlier and returning home later than ever before. The resulting fatigue can lead to hazardous inattention while driving, mistakes in driver judgment and diminished response time, all key factors in an alarming number of traffic accidents.

High-volume vehicle emissions and public health consequences

Public health officials warn of yet another potentially devastating by-product of high traffic volume and congestion: harmful vehicle emissions being released into the atmosphere. Studies are beginning to suggest that fumes from cars, trucks and other modes of transportation can have a significantly negative effect on human mental acuity, emotional state and overall intelligence. In fact, one recent report indicated that breathing exhaust fumes at street level for only half an hour can alter electrical activity in the parts of the brain that control personality, behavior and the ability to make decisions. It is hypothesized that longer-term exposure may have even more pronounced effects.

Technology shifts may help alleviate congestion epidemic

Given the urgency of the problem faced by commuters in Los Angeles and other urban centers worldwide, a wide range of potentially crucial innovations have begun to emerge. Car-sharing enterprises, light rail systems and advanced navigation systems designed to ease traffic flow and end wasteful searches for available parking have all received heightened attention of late and hold a great deal of promise in terms of lessening the effects of crippling congestion.

Steadfast advocacy for the injured in Los Angeles

Attorney Sean Salamati understands the inherent dangers that come with traveling by car on the region’s heavily congested roadways. If you or someone close to you has sustained serious harm due to the negligence of another driver, now is the time to secure aggressive, compassionate legal assistance. To learn more about your right to pursue compensation in the aftermath of a crash, call the experienced Los Angeles car accident attorneys at the Salamati Law Firm today.

Additional Resources on the Risks of Traffic Congestion

  1. Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, The Public Health Costs of Traffic Congestion – A Health Risk Assessment, http://ibtta.org/sites/default/files/The%20Public%20Health%20Costs%20of%20Traffic%20Congestion.pdf
  2. The Wall Street Journal, The Hidden Toll of Traffic Jams, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203733504577024000381790904
  3. INRIX, INRIX 2016 Global Traffic Scorecard, http://inrix.com/resources/inrix-2016-global-traffic-scorecard/
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