Changing public policy and how we fund our roads may result in saving millions of lives.
(Photo Credit: billjacobus1/Flickr)
A thought-provoking question appeared on Quora the other day: “What are some policies that would improve millions of lives, but people still oppose?” And one equally thought-provoking answer was, “universal road pricing.”
Universal Road Pricing (URP)
URP is also known as congestion charging. Taxes charged to everyone to maintain the roads would be reduced or removed altogether. Tolls are taken from all drivers to pay for the roads. The people using the roads are the ones who pay the most to maintain them.
At first blush, this may seem like nothing more than a burden on the shoulders of people who drive to work. However, when we look at experiments in communities worldwide that have implemented and closely monitored the effects of URP, we do see major benefits that, in the long run, save lives.
URP correlates with more people choosing alternate forms of transportation. This results in the following:
Time Spent Commuting
URP is an additional incentive to choose other forms of transportation. Other choices include (but are not limited to) car-pooling and taking public transportation. With fewer vehicles on the road, traffic jams are reduced, and people get where they are going faster. This improves quality of life.
Emergency vehicles are less likely to be stuck in a traffic jam; ensuring emergency workers arrive on the scene in a timely fashion. This saves lives.
Fewer vehicles and less congestion result in fewer accidents, which saves lives.
Fewer motor vehicles on the road every day reduces greenhouses emissions and other forms of air pollution.
In addition to breathing cleaner air, people in communities with URP are more likely to choose to ride their bikes to work. This exercise increases their physical health, which in turn, may save lives.
Tell Us What You Think
Would you be willing to live in a community with URP? Why or why not? Leave us a comment or join the conversation on Twitter.