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 and Accordions

100 Years Ago Today

Out of curiosity, I recently thumbed through my archives and retrieved a column from 100 years ago. It too was written just before Christmas and even included gift ideas. There’s one gift idea I will never forget — an accordion. It sounds unbelievable, but this accordion saved my uncle’s life. It’s a lengthy story — too long to tell here. But I can tell you it involved poison dart frogs.  Anyway, this is not the place to tell such a fantastic story — it would take way too long. And if I did tell it, you would be spellbound. I still can’t believe it. How did that accordion catch on fire? And where did all that broccoli come from? Perhaps in a future column I will tell the story. Actually, I probably won’t.

And this brings us to today’s topic: petroleum. Something else was going on 100 years ago — cars required gas and oil. Fast forward to today and cars still need gas and oil (and cup holders). But, fast forward a mere 15 years, and good luck finding cars with adequate cup holders. Also, you will notice cars no longer need gas and oil. What happened to petroleum? Many believe the use of petroleum peaked last year. And simultaneously, alternative transportation fuels took an exponential jump.

Electric car sales were greater during 2020 than ever before. Automakers are currently working on 35 new all-electric vehicles to be released next year. And in Norway (an oil-rich country), 70% of cars sold in 2020 were electric. And closer to home (not MY home), the state of California set a goal to phase out gasoline cars by 2035…

Nothing is static. Remember coal? Coal peaked in 2008. Remember petroleum? It appears petroleum peaked last year. Everything peaks. And this includes electric cars and trucks. And after electric, I suppose teleportation devices will peak — it’s just a matter of time…


Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience — online help available at or leave a note on my door.