Traffic surveys aid city pollution policies

In a week where London has announced the T-Charge and Swansea has introduced a diversionary system for traffic when air pollution is particularly bad, the role of traffic surveys and monitoring is becoming ever-more important to the health and wellbeing of the population.

Traffic’s contribution to air quality

There’s no doubt that the increase in the number of vehicles on the road contributes to poorer air quality. Diesel vehicles in particular have been pinpointed as damaging to the environment, and the T-Charge introduced by the Mayor of London this week means that drivers bringing older, more polluting cars into the capital will have to pay an additional £10 fee on top of the congestion charge. London’s air quality is often extremely poor, with around 9,000 premature deaths per year linked to air pollution, according to the Mayor.

Understanding where and how the traffic pollutes most is part of designing and implementing a workable solution, so professional traffic surveys look at congestion points, the number of vehicles on the road over a range of times during the day and night, and how those journeys might be diverted or completed in other ways.

Diversions in Swansea

Councillors have been so worried about air pollution in certain areas of Swansea that they have invested in a system that monitors the air quality and diverts drivers away from affected areas when necessary.

The scheme, which is called Nowcaster, uses dedicated road signs on the approach to the affected areas. The boards advise drivers to use an alternative route, but they do not have to follow the advice. Councillors hope that the boards will help to divert some traffic, reducing congestion and improving air quality on particularly poor days.

An issue to take seriously

The poor quality of air is a serious problem in cities across the UK. Roads are becoming even more congested and, although newer cars have an engine shut-off system that avoids engines turning over at traffic lights or in traffic jams, the majority of older cars do not, so pollution is pumped out of exhausts all the time. As local councils address this problem, they need accurate data to work from so that they can plan for a healthier future.

Traffic surveys from RDS

At RDS we work with councils, planners, developers and other interested parties to get a clear idea of what is happening on our roads and provide the data that helps decision makers to plan for routes, systems and projects that aim to improve air quality. To find out more about how any of our surveys can help you to gather reliable information for your air pollution issues, just contact us today.

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