All across the globe, traffic agencies struggle to manage traffic congestions in their cities but not all really try hands at How checkpoints can be used to manage traffic gridlock.
Generally, a lot of factors have been fingered as the probable as well as known causes of this unending menace. Two of such are because of reckless behavior and poor planning and in Nigeria, these two are the most prominent factors and if you add terrible roads to the equation, you'll possibly understand why we are struggling with the issue.
In truth, there has been a half-hearted effort at tackling the traffic issue, if you take the Apapa area in Lagos for instance, a closer look shows that solving the traffic issue there is just a matter of "political will". That Apapa gridlock was solved in a matter of hours just to make way for the president and when he left, the gridlock was back. So, if there is no political will to solve our problems, in this case, the traffic congestion and gridlock menace or every possible solution put forward may likely not be so effective.
So, we call on the various levels of government, the various government agencies in charge of managing road traffic, as well as the police, the army, and civil defense Corps the NSCDC to show character and as we find solutions to the traffic issue. On our part, we are proposing a field-tested solution that we found to be very effective at breaking up gridlocks and freeing up traffic at the usual traffic congestion hotspots.
The traffic gridlock issue seems to be an unending one
Checkpoints, what really are they? Well, The Free Dictionary with reference to the US Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, gives a definition that is the best fit for this article as seen below,
A place where military/police check vehicular or pedestrian traffic in order to enforce circulation control measures and other laws, orders, and regulations.
Checkpoints are generally put up as a means of checking and managing crime, as well as a means of enforcing rules and regulations. As we may already be conversant with, these checkpoints may sometimes result in crawling traffic. However, this same technique can also be utilized in clearing up an existing gridlock or even preventing one from happening.
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How checkpoints can be used to manage traffic gridlock
So how can checkpoints be actually used to manage traffic gridlock? Well to know this, we first need to breakdown the different elements of the system that will influence how the checkpoints should be mounted and managed.
Elements like the checkpoint distance, checkpoint positioning, and checkpoint management. After a more in-depth analysis of these elements, we should have been able to see clearly how the checkpoints can be utilized in managing traffic jams.
1. Checkpoint distance
This is a very crucial step in defeating an established gridlock or a gradually building one. To solve the gridlock using the checkpoint, the distance must be carefully considered. From our field experience, 500 - 750-meter checkpoint distance from the last car of a slow-moving not so long traffic jam proved to be very efficient at gradually unlocking the gridlock.
However, this distance can be adjusted upwards depending on the length of the gridlock by following a sequence of 2.5D, where D is the estimated gridlock distance. Thus, to get the effective checkpoint distance, 2.5D is measured from the gridlock head. Here gridlock head refers to the starting point of the traffic jam or its epicenter. Thus the equation below can be very helpful for slow-moving traffic:
- Cd = 2.5D
where Cd represents the checkpoint distance measured from the gridlock head
D represents the estimated gridlock distance
Also, the checkpoint distance of 500-750 meters taken from the last car was also found to be very effective in unlocking a stagnant gridlock. So for a stagnant gridlock, a checkpoint can be mounted 500 - 750 meters from the last car depending on the traffic frequency the road normally experiences. For a low traffic road, a 500-meter checkpoint distance from the last car was found effective in comfortably unlocking a traffic gridlock. For a route with high traffic frequency, a 750-meter checkpoint distance from the last car was found to be very effective.
Checkpoint distance should be about 2.5 times the gridlock length measured from the gridlock head
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2. Checkpoint positioning
For the checkpoint distance mentioned above to be effective, systematic checkpoint positioning is very important. To get a good and fast result, all roads supplying traffic to the gridlock head must be controlled with a checkpoint mounted on each. However, the checkpoint must be stationed on the side of the road leading up to the gridlock head, while the moving lane must be left free to aid in decongesting the gridlock.
3. Checkpoint Management
Generally, mounting a checkpoint will result in a mild gridlock. However, this is a controlled procedure put in place to help manage a somewhat control-free event. The beauty of the controlled procedure is that it can be brought to an end at any desired time.
The onus is on the personnel on duty to use their discretion to determine the flow rate of the traffic from the checkpoint towards the gridlock. Thus the traffic flow rate can be reduced or increased depending on how fast the gridlock is being unlocked.
To make sure the process remains effective, the checkpoints will be allowed to remain 30-45 minutes past the usual gridlock peak period for the route or at least 1 hour after the traffic congestion gets cleared.
Checkpoints can help mitigate the ending gridlock issue
Please Note: This solution might not be very effective on routes and roads of which traffic flow is seriously impeded either by fallen tankers, or trailers blocking traffic or extremely deplorable roads. For example, the Apapa gridlock issue might benefit from this solution only if the tankers are taken off the road and put in designated parks located well away from the roads.
The traffic gridlock problem has been very expensive and has cost the country several trillion Naira. In fact, a 2018 industry survey carried out by a collaboration between the National Economic Summit Group, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, and others revealed that the country lost an estimated
₦3.06 trillion on non-oil exports and about ₦2.5 trillion corporate earnings across the sectors annually
These figures are really alarming, which is the more reason why we should put in extra effort to manage this issue.
States and the Federal government must be willing to invest state resources to tackle this menace, one such resource is the deployment of police, military, and traffic regulatory personnel/infrastructure to help put up and manage these checkpoints.
On the lighter note, check out this funny traffic moment with a police officer:
Video: Nigeria's funniest traffic police
We hope that this article on How checkpoints can be used to manage traffic gridlock has given you the view into one of the best solutions for traffic jams in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole. There are more interesting posts like this on Naijauto.com, make sure to check them all out!