Chet Skwarcan is an award-winning engineer, writer, and industry innovator in the field of traffic engineering. He is known for leveraging his creativity, logic, and technology to solve today’s engineering challenges.

Traffic Congestion and Horse Sense

I think it was Mark Twain who said, “Traffic is like weather, everybody talks about it but where did all these horses come from?” Or something like that…

You likely have ideas about traffic. And I know some transportation engineers who also have ideas. In fact, many of them even refer to their ideas as solutions.

I thought it would be valuable to share some of their ideas/solutions — some I agree with — some I hesitate to mention. Please circle your favorites, make a copy, and throw the original away (and then throw the copy away) …

  1. To reduce the number of vehicles on the roadway, discourage “driving by yourself” — make it more economical to choose mass transit and/or public busses
  2. Tax everyone who drives more than 50 miles per day — this encourages seeking alternative solutions (note: this might be a good time to remind you that I do not necessarily agree with all these ideas/solutions but hey, we’re brainstorming here)
  3. For mass transit to be effective, it must be faster and more convenient than your personal vehicle
  4. To reduce delay and improve travel times, replace [some] traffic lights [and 4-way stops!] with roundabouts
  5. Improve travel times by optimizing existing traffic signal timings (also consider interconnecting adjacent traffic signals)
  6. Incorporate decentralization policies into long term land use planning (i.e., locate services and jobs near population centers thereby shortening the commute while facilitating walking/biking)
  7. Stagger start times for school and work to help spread rush hour traffic volumes
  8. Increase fuel cost thus thinking twice before driving (vs. staying home or taking public transportation)
  9. Full integration of autonomous vehicles — they’re able to operate in unison, as a unit, more fluidly, thereby increasing capacity without adding extra traffic lanes
  10. Allow employees to work from home, home schooling
  11. Encourage grade school students to walk or take the bus
  12. Perform road/street repairs at night and/or early morning so as not to impede traffic
  13. Impose tolls or “congestion charges” during peak hours (Disney World does this)
  14. Offer good, reliable, and affordable public transportation options (this may require a significant shift in mindset)
  15. More intelligent GPS and socially linked navigation systems able to evenly distribute vehicles over all available routes to their various destinations (check out the WAZE app)
  16. Traffic problems can be alleviated — and many are fixable. Some solutions require a tweak in habits and preferences (not our preferences, I’m talking about those other people).

So, I guess it is like Mark Twain said, “Traffic is like a horse, you can lead it to water but first you have to have a horse.” Or something like that…

Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience he continues to solve (or prevent) traffic problems. He can be reached at