Traffic jams are choking cities all around the world, severely affecting economic growth and the health of commuters. Time wasted in traffic congestion costs billions of dollars and afflicts commuters with stress, poor health, and even premature death.
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Traffic Congestion Impacts Your Health and the Economy
The amount of time that commuters waste on the road is increasing, and this is causing commuters to suffer from more fatigue, stress, and pollution.
The air pollution generated by traffic jams is deadly. Sitting in a traffic jam exposes commuters to toxic fumes, which causes more than 2,200 premature deaths annually in 83 of the largest urban areas in the U.S., estimates the Harvard School of Public Health.
Furthermore, the economic cost of traffic jams is colossal. During the period 2013-2030, the cumulative cost for the combined economies of France, Germany, the U.S., and the UK, will reach the astronomical amount of $4.4 trillion, predicts INRIX.
“The overall economic impact is greatest in the U.S., where the estimated cumulative cost of traffic congestion by 2030 is $2.8 trillion – the same amount Americans collectively paid in U.S. taxes last year,” concludes the INRIX report.
Driverless Cars, Bitcoin, and Blockchain Could Spell the End of Traffic Congestion
In spite of massive public efforts and billions of dollars spent to ease traffic congestion, the situation continues to deteriorate inexorably.
Now, thanks to Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, experts and futurists are optimistic, hoping that cities will finally be able to eradicate the plague of traffic jams.
According to a World Economic Forum report, two specific technologies are making possible the transformation of urban transport: the driverless car and Bitcoin’s blockchain technology.
According to Thomas Birr and Carsten Stöcker, to make this dream come true, blockchain technology is crucial:
- “Trip charges will be automatically deducted from the passenger’s blockchain-enabled digital wallets or charged to their credit card, with payment instantly flowing to the vehicle owner.
- Access and identity tokens and P2P transactions will enable the easy, secure sharing of not only vehicles but infrastructures such as toll roads, recharging stations and parking lots.
- The blockchain-enabled identity of each user will carry proof of identity, age, insurance coverage and ability to pay while protecting the anonymity of the passengers and information about their travels, as well as the security of their payment mechanisms.
- The smart contracts governing such transactions will be based on standard templates that assure accurate, instant collection of taxes and regulatory reporting, wherever the trip takes place.”
Teams are already working on these concrete solutions. In October, the CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) hosted a group of Ph.D. students, who came up with the concept of a market-based system to minimize traffic congestion, using Bitcoin’s blockchain technology.
Specifically, the Ph.D. students are proposing an innovative solution, in which a driver can book space on a particular road in advance. A driver will choose a road depending on how urgent the user’s trip is. A popular road would be more expensive than a less popular road.
“Because journeys may use roads owned by various parties, the planning system will program the appropriate distribution of value into the executable contract. When the conditions are met (i.e., the journey is completed) the contract is executed within the blockchain and the transfer of value from the user to the road owners represents an alternative to traditional road user charges,” according to the proposal.
Moreover, startups are already creating blockchain-based solutions to help ease traffic jams.
For instance, La’Zooz is offering a decentralized platform for smart transportation, which resides on top of Bitcoin’s blockchain. This is a social ride-sharing platform, which “will synchronize empty seats with transportation needs in real-time, matching like-minded people to create a great ride-sharing experience for a fair fare,” according to the La’Zooz website.
Bitcoin and its blockchain technology are uniquely situated to play a vital role in helping developers and entrepreneurs to come up with innovative solutions to alleviate traffic congestion. Bitcoin’s blockchain technology in combination with ride-sharing and driverless vehicles will dramatically change urban transportation, by creating a variety of new and previously unimagined solutions aimed at eradicating once and for all the scourge of traffic jams.
Do you think Bitcoin’s technology and driverless vehicles will help minimize traffic congestion? Let us know in the comments below!
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