Necessitating traffic management


Masud Khabeki

Traffic management is seen often in the context of the planned strategy for commuters to ensure that road users comply with traffic rules. To some, it is policing and monitoring of traffic as well as enforcement of traffic rules and regulations. However, traffic management is a conscious effort at controlling, coordinating and supervising movement of vehicles on a particular road network. This may include city wide, rural areas or unban setting, residential estates, neighborhoods etc. The sole purpose is to provide citizen a smooth and safe environment and with a view to ensuring free flow of traffic, reducing congestion and delay, increasing road capacity and most importantly preventing road crashes (accident). The concept of traffic management is concerned with the application of a range of traffic engineering and administrative techniques. Traffic management could be regarded as a systematic and sustained effort aimed at directing and controlling all traffics on our roads to make them free of the negative effects of the transport system. It therefore means that traffic management envisaged a conscious effort to ameliorate problems resulting from automobile use, secondly a systematic and sustained effort of directing and controlling traffic and thirdly it is regarded as an application of a range of traffic engineering and administrative techniques. This type of approach is much needed in developing countries and particularly in our country as we have been slow to adopt rapid changes to facilitate our public. The negative impact of bad traffic management is not only hurting the road users, but it has immensely effected the traffic managers beside destroying the businesses, created health complications and many other negative impacts yet needed to be evaluated.

Resultantly, the traffic management is seen and aimed to achieve a goal in the reduction of the negative effects of vehicle usage on people and economy through adoption of measures and techniques that will make road users comply with prescribed rules and regulations. Such measures involve either physical or policy thrust. Usually, the traffic management techniques are resulted in the combination of both. The need for traffic management is self-evident in all parts of the world and especially in the developing countries. It stems from the need for conscious measures needed to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire road transport system for at an affordable cost for the people. The effort not only guarantees the economic growth but improve the public health and develop a positive trust among people. Therefore, there is need to see the phenomenon of traffic management from a holistic view. Generally, it is regarded that every management system always come with certain goals targeted to achieve some results. The traffic management system is also assigned to achieve few goals. These goals may differ and must have a tendency to be expanded depending on situation and circumstance of a particular place. First of all, it must ensure free flow of traffic. Traffic flowing freely within a network is like the blood flowing in human system. A blockage paralyses activity within the system just as any impediment in the flow of blood within a human system paralyses the body. Ensuring traffic flow is therefore a goal central to any traffic management strategy. Traffic flow is a function of many factors. They include road type/function, abutting land uses, and the characteristics of the traffic volume. The dynamics of traffic must be understood determined by daily, weekly and yearly variations. Likewise, the direction of flow at any particular point and time is always vital. It shows the point of traffic attraction and generation. A good traffic volume study will assist in the management of the traffic flow to a point of according priority to the stream with higher volume.

The second goal of a traffic management system is to reduce congestion and delay in the free flow of traffic. Apparently, traffic congestion results when so many vehicles are trying to maneuver within limited road space. Such places on the road are referred to as “chock points” or bottleneck. It could be on a stretch of road, diversion or at an intersection. In most cases other than intersection, “chock points” are caused either by on-street parking, bad road, street trading, broken-down vehicle and/or abandoned crashed vehicle. In any high traffic volume road, a minute delay in traffic creates the piling up of vehicles. An effective traffic management strategy must reduce delay on any part of the road network to ease down the pressure on commuters.

The third goal of a traffic management system is to achieve a better and increased road capacity to facilitate a smooth flow of traffic. This could be achieved to introduce innovation in the design of existing and new roads. A road may not be able to carry the volume of traffic for which it was designed where appropriate traffic management measures are not installed, especially at traffic nodes. Every road junction and intersection has designated capacity. This capacity can be increased when appropriate traffic management measures are installed such as road markings, traffic light and signs, which of course will allow the facility to handle more traffic within a reasonable time frame. There are arguments however that some traffic management installations reduce road capacity e.g. speed control devices.

The fourth goal is always aimed to reduce road traffic crashes or road accidents. In recent years, road crashes have become a major concern in the world as traffic tends to move at a rapid or fast pace. It is acknowledged as the fifth leading cause of death across the world. Every goal of traffic management is set to achieve safety of lives and property. Efficient and effectiveness of road transport system is tied to safety. From designing of roads to construction of vehicle, and training of operators, safety is the first consideration. Therefore, means that traffic management’s primary aim is to reduce loss of lives and property on highways.

Most traffic infrastructure in our urban cities are contend with traffic volume that is more than its design capacity. Appropriate traffic management measure must be put in place to ensure that such facility adequately handles the traffic to avoid a chaotic situation or delay. Removal of traffic obstruction is another area of traffic management. It involves clearing of debris after crashes and for removal of broken-down vehicles in record time.

When traffic congestion is properly managed, traffic will flow steadily, delay will be reduced, and more vehicles will use the road facility. More importantly, when traffic is managed with appropriate measures, especially at traffic nodes, conflicts are eliminated. Every vehicle will have a safe passage. Safety of road users is an important goal of traffic management on which other considerations depend.