It’s really easy to complain about traffic. It’s really easy to complain and whine about construction. In fact it seems like Freeman Grapevine is in the epicenter of construction central. One thing that we have to try to keep in mind is that, for all of the inconvenience, our “problems” with traffic and construction are actually because improvements are being made. So that got me thinking, What are some of the GOOD things about improving the safety and conditions of our roads.
Some of these, I’m sure you haven’t even put second thought to as being developed for your benefit.
1. Divided Highways
2. Median dividers and barriers engineered to turn vehicle wheels back into the proper lane of traffic.
3. Improved and increased lighting for roads and highways
4. Energy absorbing crushable barricades around fixed objects
5. Small grooves or buttons down the side of the highway to alert drivers drifting off the road.
6. High speed, multi-lane interchanges (instead of intersections or traffic circles)
7. Improved signage and use of reflective materials. (If the buttons down the middle of the road in front of you are red reflectors, you are going the wrong way.)
8. Expanded use of improved guardrails
9. Brighter LED traffic signals with pedestrian control lights.
10. Improved reflective paints for highway lanes, crosswalks, and directional arrows.
I know we’ve all noticed these improvements, so it’s not just our vehicles that are safer these days. Highway safety engineers have been working overtime for years to improve both traffic flow and highway safety. Improving traffic flow contributes to safer roads as well as getting you to your destination more quickly.
Before the Interstate Highway program began very few highways were divided. Roads were one solid strip of asphalt divided only by a line painted down the middle. Learning to pass slower vehicles by moving into and back out of the on-coming lane of traffic was a very important part of driver training.
Short wooden poles, strung together by a single strand of steel cable, were all that separated drivers from the road and a deep ditch or sharp curve. The guardrails and barriers of today weren’t yet invented.
There was much less street and road lighting and some of the light bulbs were always burned out. Halogens and LEDs have been a huge improvement.
One of the big killers in the past was drivers dozing off while driving and drifting into on coming traffic or bridge supports. The addition of median dividers, crushable barricades, and road shoulder grooving has significantly reduced head on collisions.
Highway safety engineers will continue to make improvements, but we shouldn’t take all the improvements we have now for granted. Despite all the traffic, our roads and highways are built to be a lot safer for us than for our parents and grandparents.
Let’s say something good about highway and road development! Leave me a comment if you can bring yourself to do it.