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.

What’s More Important than Traffic?

Think about it — is there anything more important than traffic? I think not.

In a recent interview however, when pressed about my priorities, I acquiesced, “There is ONE thing more important than traffic — I just can’t remember what it is.”

Current events have jogged my memory a bit. I’ve noticed medical professionals proclaiming something now considered extremely important — the washing of our hands. Touching one’s face also discussed (i.e., don’t do it).

We all have a role to play — a means in which we can contribute in a positive manner. And as a traffic engineer, I’m indeed doing my part — I’m modifying pedestrian signals as depicted above — and surprisingly, many cities (in fact all of them) disapprove of this modification (forcing me to do it at night).

I am also encouraging municipalities via this column to consider making walk signals automatic — this is only appropriate where pedestrian demand is very high. Simply post a temporary sign over the button: DO NOT PUSH THE BUTTON — PEDESTRIAN CROSSING IS NOW AUTOMATED.

In most cases, you must push the button. Remember the standard rules — use your elbow, a glove, sanitize your hand afterwards, don’t touch your face, and by all means do not press the button with your nose (or anyone else’s nose).


Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience, solving traffic problems everywhere — online ideas available at