March/April 1995, p.11

World Traffic Report

More Roads = More Traffic
A new British report supports the theory that new roads can lead to extra traffic. The report concluded "that induced traffic can and does occur probably quite extensively, though its size and significance is likely to vary widely in different circumstances."

"By using a rigid assessment formula rigged in favor of road building at the expense of other transport modes, the Government has been able to justify a fundamentally flawed new road and motorway widening policy," said one government transport official. The Government responded to the report by announcing that planned roads will be scrutinized more closely to judge their overall impact on traffic.

Environmental groups in Britain welcomed the report. Friends of the Earth said it was "now time to sound the death knell" on road widening schemes. But pro-roads and motoring organizations argued that "for many people in many parts of the country, traffic generation is a good thing," and that simply suppressing the demand for movement "restricts choice and hampers economic growth."

On the day the report was released, Britain's Transport Secretary announced that six roads projects were being postponed, and that the government will focus on improving existing roads rather than building new ones. "Our priority now must be to make the most effective use of the existing network - especially motorways - and building to remove congestion and pollution blackspots."

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Sweet Sixteen
Sixteen-year-olds are the most dangerous drivers in the United States, much more so than even slightly older teenagers, reports the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Last year, 1,269 people died in 1,066 crashes involving 16-year-old drivers. In 43 states, you have to be at least 16 to get a license. But in South Dakota, you can get a license at 14. Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and South Carolina permit 15-year-olds behind the wheel. In New Jersey the minimum age is 17.

Ohio teenagers under 18 would not be allowed to drive alone between midnight and 6 a.m. under terms of a bill recently introduced in the state senate. Thirteen states have already enacted similar driving restrictions, and three states - California, Maryland and Oregon - report fewer automobile crashes as a result of the restrictions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Accident rates for 16- and 17-year-olds, especially at those hours, are significantly higher than for other people," said Republican State Senator Richard Finan, who introduced the legislation.


Gate Crasher
Last month, a 21-year-old student drove his Volkswagen Polo into Buckingharn Palace's huge ornamental gates. One of the famous gates built in 1911, which weigh 2.5 tons each, collapsed on top of the car. The driver was not injured, but was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment

The perimeter of the palace is fraught with danger. 'Me triangle of land outside the palace is one of the busiest junctions in London, with 5,000 cars swirling round the Queen Victoria memorial on the roundabout every hour. Two people have been killed in the last three years and 20 sightseers are injured yearly trying to cross the road to reach the palace and peer through its gates.

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20 Minutes Kills 5,000 Years
A new road threatens to destroy the Great Pyramids of Egypt. The Cairo freeway, approved in 1985 by Egyptian officials, including the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, is now coming under scrutiny by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee because of the threat it poses to the Great Pyramids. Under pressure, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has given the pyramids a temporary reprieve while experts review the impact of the proposed beltway.

Pollution and vibration from the road could destabilize the monuments (last survivor of the Seven Wonders of the World) while new development made possible by the road would further erode the Pyramids. If constructed, the road, which would destroy 5,000 years of world historic monuments, would shorten an average drive by 20 minutes.

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