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Traffic Operations and Safety: A Research Paper on Transportation

Updated on August 21, 2019
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Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

The Geography of Transport Systems

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Traffic Operations and Safety: A Research Paper on Transportation

Movement of goods and people from one place to another is achieved by means of transportation. The mobility over long distances at speedy rate within comfort and safety has been the basis of technological progress in this aspect. It is an important factor in determining the progress of a nation because industrial development and military strength is reflected in the transportation system of the country. From bridges to canals, roads and highways, tunnels and underground excavations to air transportation everything impacts civilization.

Transport infrastructure includes roads, highways, airways, waterways, canals and pipelines as well as terminals like airports, railway stations, bus stations, warehouses, trucking terminals, refueling depots and seaports. The terminals are used for the interchange of passengers, cargo and maintenance. Common types of transport vehicles are automobiles, buses, trains, trucks, bicycles, helicopters, watercraft, spacecraft and aircraft. Operating these vehicles is not as simple as just putting them on the roads. Full operations include a set of procedures and there is financing, legalities and policies. The ownership and operations of transport system could be under private ownership, public or under government control[1].

The transport sector or simply transportation is a significant part of the economy. It shows the direction of development a country is leading on through the efficiency of its transport system. According to Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue and Dr. Thei Notteboom[2] transport systems develop within the socioeconomic context, it is a reflection of the improvement of society in terms of its social, political and economic conditions. Transport systems falls under the physical capital of the country. And when it comes to the physical capital like transport system proper maintenance and operations occurs at the same time economic activities takes place. And when it comes to the transactional service function of the transport system, the complexity of human needs and the physical needs rely on the expertise of managers and a good infrastructure.

Thesis Statement

A good transport system provides access and convenience of service to the elderly and people with disabilities. One of the services people get is the public transport system which allows them to reach their destinations where they can explore and utilize opportunities that adds value to them. The accessibility to public transport system ensures that the public limited or no difficulties at all in using the services. However, the mobility of the transport systems impacts the elderly and people with disabilities.

Review of Literature

Transportation

Transport sector has always been instrumental in development. Opportunities increased relative to the mobility of people, goods and information. The quantity and quality of transportation are very significant in the development of the economy. When the transportation system is efficient economic and social opportunities are multiplied thus better employment, markets, and additional investment becomes available to the public. Efficient transportation system reduces the costs in several economic sectors. This impacts as well the prices of commodities available in the market. The core impact of transportation pertains to the physical capacity to mobilize passengers and goods and the associated costs involve in the mobility. Therefore, setting of routes to facilitate interaction between economic entities is important. The improvement in the time performance of transportation reflects its reliability. Better utilization of the existing transportation that provides the maximum benefits to passengers and freights are shown through rapid delivery and less delays. Transportation is the means for accessing greater or wider market base. Production, distribution and consumption are highly affected by the transport system. Location of activities and land values are impacted by transportation the same way companies’ access to inputs like raw materials, parts, energy and labor are affected. [3]

Different Transport Systems

Every country has its own variation of transport system. There can never be a single transport system that can address all the needs of the economic and social needs of the people. The seaports are means to have access to international trade. This address the limitations of inland access and most of the ports are now considered important in supporting the international and global supply chains. Likewise, rivers and canals permit the transport of heavy goods that later on are redistributed through inland system. Railways are also important in the transport system; it enables a flexible and high capacity inland transport system. Roads such as national highways provide access to majority of the public sector. Individual transportation is available for the middle class to the upper class sector. It has also paved the way to new forms of social opportunities like sub-urbanization. Last would be the airways and information technologies, the rapid development of the air and telecommunication network have been in conjunction with globalization. Organizational and managerial task progressed and the realm of logistics and supply chain management has been made easier. Though maritime transport system remains the physical link of globalization, information technology and air transportation has accelerated the mobility of passengers including specialized cargoes.[4]

There is no single mode of transportation that can take full credit for the economic development. The mode of transportation depends on the geography where transactions are being held. The trade routes that were established earlier on remain the basic system for distribution and transaction. Mapping a maritime network for shipments are the expansion of this long time routes.

Traffic Operations

The efficiency and reliability of transport systems relies on operations and management. And when it is about traffic operations, all the responsibilities of designing, installing, maintaining and operating control devices, pavement markings, and signage are included. This are all aimed at providing a safe mobility both for pedestrians and vehicles. Traffic management is one organization that takes care of the arrangement, guidance and control of both moving and stationary traffic. This is to ensure that there is an efficient, safe and orderly mobility of goods, people and protect the quality of the local environment within the close proximity to the traffic facilities.[5]

Traffic control in terms of directing vehicles and pedestrians includes utilization of devices to ensure safety and manage properly the traffic flow. Monitoring is done through the use of CCTV this helps in facilitating traffic advisories to warn people of the congested areas and the alternate route.

Traffic Safety

Traffic safety refers to the standard procedures and measures that are applied in order to prevent people from getting seriously hurt or killed while on the road. Public transport is not just limited to those using cars but also pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, passengers, horse riders and people on public transport are all considered. Under the Safe System approach, the fundamental strategy in keeping the public safe it to ensure that in case of vehicles crash the impact will remain below the threshold that will likely end up in serious injury or death. This is also the reason why there are road signs and traffic lights on all transport systems and safety gears are also installed on vehicles like seat belts and air bag. As a sustainable solution to road safety the precautions applied in congested and urban highways is also applied in rural, remote areas.

For areas with vulnerable roads, traffic calming is implemented. This is done by installing mini traffic circles placed at intersections of neighboring streets. This measure is done in order to minimize the possibility of collisions at intersections. Shared space scheme on the other hand focuses on human instincts and interactions. It is relying more on the eye contact of the people therefore no road signs or traffic signals are placed on the area. In a well-planned neighborhood, traffic is managed using the fused grid or the so-called three-way offset. This is a lay out model of the neighborhood with a not cut through traffic or no dead ends. This is to ensure that pedestrians as well as bikers have access to path connections through parks and blocks. Others call this filtered permeability with particular reference to the preferred mode of transport. With the research results reflecting that collision incidents are high on areas with four-way traffic that has cut through traffic access safety barriers are also utilized to minimize the impact and risk of the public and by standers. Examples of modifications are on the side rails which are now anchored on the ground, light poles that breaks at the base when hit by cars. Road fixtures such as fire hydrants are also built to collapse upon vehicle impact. Trees have been cut down on the sides of the road to avoid severe damage to errant road users. When it comes to safety barriers this is now a combination of physical and visual protection. The physical protection addresses the safety of the pedestrians and sensitive buildings. While visual protection warns the drivers of the changes in the road patterns.

Most roads are characterized by rounded surface in order to reduce water and ice from collecting and also to protect damage from frost which reduces the traction during poor weather conditions. Sections of some roads are laid on the surface with bitumen to enhance the drainage, groove cuts are also cut into the cement surface to channel water away and the rumble strips at the edge of the highway brings to the attention of the driver when the vehicle collides with them. Raised markers between lanes highlights the lane boundaries and these are now made to be reflective. Speed bumps are placed to slow down cars and prevent them from going too fast in an area where there are a lot of pedestrians.

Poor road conditions lead to safety problems, when there is too much asphalt or bituminous binder applied on the asphalt concrete the binder may bleed or flush to the surface which makes the road slippery when it gets wet. Some aggregate stones when they get too smooth or polished when they are often placed under the action of vehicle tires also reduces the road traction. Loss of control is effects of crashes that are caused by slippery roads.

Some countries design the lane dividers with cat’s eyes or the Bott’s dots or commonly known as the reflective raised pavement markers. Unlike paint these do not easily fade and during winter or icy weather, the dots can easily be taken off though they can also be embedded easily. Identified road hazards and intersections are marked several times from five, twenty to sixty seconds in advance in order to warn the driver to avoid violent maneuvers. Most roads sign and pavement materials are made to be retro reflective in order to catch the attention of the driver.

Among the risky maneuvers on the road is the turning across traffic. Collisions with the oncoming traffic are a risky thing to do and this is when collision of vehicles happens. It is also one of the main reasons for the buildup of fatalities in the area. To provide counter measures for this incidents the additional left turn lanes have been built, turn phasing at signalized intersections are also provided. There is also the Michigan left or the indirect turn treatments and the roundabouts or the conventional intersections. When there are no traffic signs or warnings to facilitate road safety it is important for the driver to keep his eyes on the road and the wheels straight. When the driver is sure that he is clear that is the time he can enter the road and no optical illusion, if there is the driver should look away at the illusions to stay clear.

In cases of accidents on the road there is no presumption of negligence, in most circumstances it is always advised to be safe in taking left turn than right turn. Whatever turn will be taken the driver still needs to provide a reasonable distance and time gap before taking any turns.

Non-motorized Transportation

The drivers are not the only consideration in ensuring safety on the roads pedestrians and bicyclists are also included. Interventions are designed to keep the non-motorized road users safe. Sidewalks are built with enough space for pedestrian traffic; pedestrian crossings are placed in order to facilitate the safe way for pedestrians to cross the streets. The cycle lanes and pedestrian’s routes have been segregated away from highways. Now over bridges are also prominent, these also facilitates a safer way for cyclist and pedestrians to cross streets. Underpasses work well for the cyclists too. Traffic calming, speed bumps, lower speed limits and speed cameras are also enforced. The shared space scheme gives all road users equal priority regardless of the mode of transport they use. Pedestrian barriers are placed to stop people from crossing at dangerous places or roads. There are now also the cycling infrastructure and protected intersections.

The passive safety traffic measures in America have been only focused on the motorist cyclists and non-motorists are non-priority., which is why there are limited transport facilities to cater to the needs of non-motorists. Wide streets, clear zones adjacent to roadways, wide turn radii, and focus on protecting drivers from the consequences of driving at high speed are just some of the manifestation of the passive traffic safety rules. It gives the drivers of automobiles maximum convenience, this only changed when the recent policies on road safety has considered redesigning roads to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

The over bridges with long slopes and steps that go up and down are also being questioned by pedestrians. It may provide them safety for crossing the roads with speeding cars but the strain it requires for pedestrians to climb up and down is also not healthy especially for the elderly people. The underpasses may be less of an effort to go down but the safety of the people for possible crime is also a point of consideration. The other option available then for pedestrians is the at-grade crossings like pedestrian lanes.

The concept of shared space in traffic has eliminated some traffic features and this has brought to attention the way traffic safety is being perceived and how drivers are treated. It is said that if drivers are treated to be idiots then they behave like one. The behavior of drivers is better achieved when they are trusted than when they are forced to obey. Shared space has somehow addressed the casualties on the road by reducing traffic speeds and roads have also been decongested.[6]

Public Transit Services

The availability of public transport facilitates the mobility and motility of the people and goods. The mode of transport chosen regardless of what it is must guarantee the safety of all passengers. And among these passengers are the elderly and the people with special needs or disabilities. Safety transportation for the elderly means they are given a courteous social policy when taking public transportation. With the proper and adequate structure of the functional characteristics of the public transport system, it can be assured that fewer accidents will be occurring for the elderly when taking the public buses, trains or taxis. It is also expected that the delivery of service in the public transport system ensures that no elderly is standing while on transit and they are properly assisted when boarding or alighting. The designs of the public transportation such as on the number and height of steps form the entrance to the door structure, comfort of the seats, availability of guard rails and the level of entrance determines how well the elderly are given the service. This is to make traveling in public transport as good as going in private. Public transports are also required to at least have the adequate information in order for the elderly to plan out their travel schedule based on actual and accurate information. This is the mark of an accessible and convenient service.[7]

Transportation for the elderly and persons with disabilities

There also different ways to access public transportation for the elderly, there are volunteers who assist them and disabled people for getting their transportation. One of this is the door to door transportation. Volunteer drivers use their own vehicles in helping people get a ride from their homes through the doors of their destinations. Riders are required to register for this program in advance to getting a schedule for a ride. There is no limitation on the reason for a rider getting a ride and once registered the rider is given the schedule a day or two prior to the date the ride is needed. Reasons may vary from attending social gathering to going to medical appointments. But then emergency transportation is not covered. The driver volunteer program is also less expensive compared to getting a taxi or taking any other public transportation.

It must by noted that the Door-Through-Door services of the volunteer driver, as it may seem to provide services similar to that of taxis, it is only catering to elderly and disabled people. Thus in addition to the transportation services, assistance in getting in and out of the car is also provided, even loading of wheelchairs, carrying bags, and purchases. There are some cars which provide this service which are also equipped with a motorized wheelchair; there are also the so-called cab-balances or the vehicles which has additional features for the people which require medical needs during travel. As for the elderly, their travels are often limited to urban and suburban areas, Silver Ride and Gogograndparents are among the widely known companies providing such services.

For the people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA have mandated public transport systems to provide features that accommodates persons with disabilities. These secondary systems are known now as the para-transit services, which are utilizing wheelchair accessible vans instead of buses. The riders are not assisted from the vehicle to the house it is only limited to “curb-to-curb” of form the pickup and drop off points of their destinations. The only assistance provided is on getting o and off the vehicles. To address the needs for assistance of persons with disabilities, there is another service they can avail – the Personal Care Attendants and Medicaid.

Looking into the advantages and disadvantages of taking public transportation, taking the para-transit is inexpensive as it only charges twice or thrice the public system does on the same route. Riders are also expected to register and prepare the necessary paper work to facilitate in determining their eligibility to access this service. It must be noted that not everyone who is senior or elderly can avail of the service. Only the elderly people and persons with disabilities who are not capable of driving on their own or taking the usual public transportation are qualified. A formal designation of disabled is given by the Social Security Administration.

For riders who are given the schedule in advance they may prepare ahead of the pickup time, but for the para-transit time flexibility is anticipated coming in early at pick up point need not be long because that will be another discomfort for the rider. For some elderly, availing of the para-transit is still a good option but the logistics may sometimes be challenging when the rider himself needs assistance of another adult or a younger person.

Reviewing the cost of transport for elderly people who are no longer capable of driving by themselves, the special services cost actually twice as much as the regular public transportation on the same route. And if the elderly will opt to take private transportation it will even be costlier. Questions are raised whether the Medicare covers the transportation expenses of the elderly. Medicare only covers for the emergency transportation needs of the elderly people. The expenses incurred for going to medical appointments more so for other purposes are not included in the coverage. Medicaid however provides transportation assistance for elderly and disabled persons. Medicaid to differentiate it from Medicare is a collection of various programs and the services offered also varies in every state. It is the Home and Community Based Services Waivers which provides for the funds allocated for transportation needs of the elderly but it is not also on a constant basis. The provision of the service is also limited to medical and therapy appointments. The other assistance provided by Medicaid is the Personal Care Attendant which is the assistance needed by the elderly or disabled when taking the para-transit services.

How a person will qualify for the assisted transportation depends on several circumstances and what type of transport service is needed. The level of disability of Transportation for the elderly the person is the primary consideration, as one person’s disability is considered minimal for others to be needing transportation assistance compared to the wheel-chair bound individuals who really requires the designation as “disabled” to be qualified for the services. The elderly on the other hand has only the natural qualification of being feeble due to aging and this is not an assurance as well that they will be qualified. [8]

Conclusion

The reason why people travel varies from one person to another. In as much as transportation is perceived significant in the development of the country and a reflection of the progress it has attained, it is also a basic needs of the people to move from one place to another to access opportunities and other services. The purpose of travel for the elderly and disabled persons mainly focus on medical reasons, and taking the public transportation is mainly the first option because private transport is very costly.

Public transport services are among the basic needs of the public and cater mostly all people from different social classes. People take the public transport system to facilitate their mobility from their homes to work, to school and to other places and when it is said that the general public needs mobility it does not exclude elderly people and those with disabilities. Life does not change for these people because of their age and disabilities; their need for transport services grows because of their needs for medical attention and for getting their necessities. Therefore, in as much as the government would want to develop transport systems to facilitate progress it must be ensured that the elderly sector and person with disabilities would still be considered in the services provided.

Bibliography

Britannica. n.d. https://www.britannica.com/technology/transportation-technology (accessed November 18, 2018).

Paying for Senior Care. n.d. https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/longtermcare/resources/transportation-elderly.html (accessed November 19, 2018).

Rodrigue, Jean-Paul. The Geography of Transport Systems. New York: Routledge, 2017.

Wikipedia.org. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_traffic_safety (accessed November 18, 2018).


[1] Britannica,“Transportation”, Accessed on November 18, 2018, https://www.britannica.com/technology/transportation-technology.

[2] Jean-Paul Rodrigue, The Geography of Transport Systems, 4th ed. (New York:Routledge,2017).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] RT Underwood, Traffic Management: An Introduction (Melbourne: Hargreen Publishing Company, 1990)

[6] Wikipedia.org. n.d. (accessed November 18, 2018) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_traffic_safety

[7] Paying for Senior Care. n.d. ( accessed: November 19, 2018) https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/longtermcare/resources/transportation-elderly.html

[8] Ibid.

The Geography of Transport Systems

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