How to deal with traffic congestion in growing cities
September 8, 2022
It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic may have changed some of our patterns. How we live, work and play may feel different than it did a couple of years ago. What else happened in the last two years of the pandemic? Population growth—specifically in states like Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
The population growth in Arizona and other states has contributed to some big changes for new and longtime residents. To help navigate this growth, we’ll talk about the reasons behind it and provide some tips on how to maneuver through busy communities that are filled with more people and more traffic.
What’s leading the population growth in Arizona and other states?
Even before the pandemic, Millennials were migrating from big cities to urban areas across the country. According to data provided by the financial planning websiteSmartAsset, Millennials aged 25 to 39 chose to trade living in major cities like New York City and Chicago for states like Texas, Colorado, Washington and Arizona in 2019 and early 2020.
In Arizona specifically, Millennials made up about 23 percent of Phoenix, Arizona’s population (390,570 out of more than 1.68 million). The generational group grew by 1.53 percent in 2019, with a net migration of 5,958 Millennials to Phoenix from out of state.
With this data, the big question is why are those born between 1981 and 1996 (Millennials), opting to live in suburbs and smaller cities?
In a segment on PBS NewsHour, Jeffrey Brown looked further into thewhy. In his reporting he spoke with Ben Winchester, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, who shared his thoughts on the trend. Winchester states that young adults are increasingly coming to these areas for the cheaper cost of living and new opportunities.
The rise of remote work and flexible lifestyles may also be a contributing factor to why younger generations are moving away from major cities and seeking out suburban communities. With an increase in folks gravitating to these smaller, local communities, what are the effects of growth?
What may immediately come to mind are things like housing, economics and resources. But what about the effect population growth has on your daily commute? More people equals bigger cities which can ultimately lead to more cars on the road.
How population growth can affect your driving
With population numbers growing in certain cities and suburban areas of Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Montana, there’s some level of expectation that more cars and traffic would come along with it. But it can be a problem. What once felt like a manageable commute to the grocery store is now riddled and dominated by traffic.
Let’s take a look at Arizona population growth as an example to see how that has translated on the road in the last couple of years. In 2018, Arizona had around 5.74 million registered vehicles in the state—according to data from the Federal Highway Administration. In their most recent data release in 2020, there were nearly six million vehicles registered in Arizona. That’s nearly a 253K jump from data two years previous.
As cities continue to grow horizontally, it increases the distance necessary to travel to and from your destination—thus increasing the likelihood that an accident may occur. Not only do more cars increase chances of getting into an accident, it also affects:
The environment. One of the effects of more cars and more traffic is the environmental impact. Traffic congestion may lead to more CO2 emissions, causing a potential rise in air pollution.
Your health. As your communities and commute time grow, your health may take a back seat. The time you once spent at the gym is now spent stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic—leading to a more sedentary lifestyle. Mentally, you may find yourself more anxious or stressed on the road because you aren’t used to driving in traffic.
Traffic. The more obvious effect on population growth is traffic congestion. When a city doesn’t have road or traffic infrastructure to manage growth, it can make things complicated while driving.
Population growth can impact various aspects of our lives, including how we handle decisions behind the wheel. Let’s take a look at some ways you can navigate traffic congestion in a busy community.
How to handle more cars and traffic congestion
Changes can be overwhelming, especially on the road. Stress, anxiety and road rage may stem from high-traffic situations. How do you manage road congestion while driving? Here are some general tips to consider before and during a commute.
First, remove all distractions. Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode, turn the volume down on your stereo and ask any passengers (ask them to be in charge of directions or checking a text as you drive) to be mindful of your commitment to driving safely. Second, watch your speed and keep enough distance between you and the car in front of you. Lastly, indicate your intentions. In traffic, communication is key. Use your turn signals to indicate to other drivers where you’re trying to travel.
To help you stay calm, cool and collected while driving, try taking some deep breaths or listening to calm music. These two practices can help promote mindful driving—which is something we’re big on at HiRoad.
If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything it’s that folks are adaptable and resilient. A surge in traffic and growth can be daunting and difficult to navigate, but with these mindful tips and practices, you can adapt to your new environment of population growth and traffic with ease.
Mindfulness starts here—with HiRoad. Our behavior-based auto insurance model recognizes and rewards your good driving behavior through the power of telematics. With the opportunity to save up to 50 percent on your monthly bill, there’s no better time to join us on the high road.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with HiRoad®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. HiRoad is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. HiRoad makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
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