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How Traffic Jams Affect Air Quality

Submitted by: Ashley Jazbec

This may come as a surprise, but slower-flowing traffic emits more pollution than fast-moving traffic of cars moving at 50 mph. People are constantly stopping, going, and accelerating; abnormal traffic patterns and constantly alternating driving conditions serve as the main source of toxic emissions. To prevent this, people can decrease these emissions by planning their drives ahead of time, and by avoiding times with the worst traffic.

Studies explain that pollution has severely increased in the last 10 years – mostly due to speeding. When people drive below 45 mph in severe traffic or exceed the speed limit of 65 mph, on most freeways, their car emits abnormal amounts of pollutants. As a result, the pollution in our air will only continue to worsen until people decide to follow the law.

However, if it is absolutely necessary for a person to drive in times of heavy traffic, we can also explore other options to improve our air quality. In the Silicon Valley, it has become increasingly popular and more available to find energy-saving vehicles that utilize greener gases as fuel. Some of the most popular electric and energy-efficient vehicles include Tesla, Honda, Fiat, Leaf, and Mitsubishi. By switching to an electric car, you can save the environment, and your bank account because you won’t need to purchase gas for electric cars. You only need to charge the car at stations, which are conveniently located throughout the US, or you can install a charging cord at your home.

There are also many other forms of transportation available in the Silicon Valley that people should take advantage of, to help minimize the amount of toxic emissions in our air. Public transportation is readily available to people, with bus stops frequently located throughout the area and nearby train stations. People can also carpool with friends or use carpool driving services to get to where they need to go. The growing chauffeur company, Uber, also offers carpool rides, where people may choose to ride with others for a lower price, and lower environmental cost.

Carpooling is another great option to consider for transportation because it will reduce road traffic. Because so many people drive by themselves in the morning or afternoon, so much of traffic is created due to lack of carpooling. It’s simple math: if everyone on the road drove with just one other person, there would be half as much traffic, and therefore people would be able to drive twice as fast during rush hour!

Next time you want to drive somewhere, consider how you can make your transportation greener. Ask yourself if there is a better option that you can use to get to your destination, whether it be through public transportation, private services, biking, skateboarding, or walking. Think twice before you turn the key to your car. If each person can make one small change, we can make a big difference.

About Katherine Han

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