What is active traffic management, and how does it affect me?

When you are driving in the state of Washington, you may have noticed overhead lane signs that advise you of traffic conditions that are ahead. This is called active traffic management. Truck and car accidents are dangerous not only to the people involved but also to the drivers and passengers of the vehicles that are flowing past them. Fully 50 percent of traffic snarls are due to vehicle accidents and broken down cars.

The overhead signs alert you of incremental speed reductions ahead, provide lane change notices to avoid blocked lanes, and it tells drivers of possible slowdowns, traffic backups and crashes that are ahead. The reason this system works so well is that it keeps drivers from changing lanes at the last minute and panic braking that can cause other vehicle crashes.

This system, active traffic management, is the first in the country and is a brand new technology put forth by the Washington State Department of Transportation. WSDOT is researching how well this system is working and may put more ATM locations in place in the future.

WSDOT has an overriding strategy called "Moving Washington" that emphasizes efficiency on the highways by putting systems into place that reduce car crashes and puts traffic flow as a priority. ATM is a part of this program.

The signs alerting drivers that roads are closed and lanes are blocked seem to be working well because of high compliance by drivers.

Being in a vehicle accident is horrible and may be avoided. However, if a reckless, careless or aggressive driver causes an accident that you are involved in, you may want to seek out a legal professional who can answer your questions and guide you through the sometimes confusing maze of the Washington court system.

Source: Washington State Department of Transportation, "Active traffic management" Oct. 14, 2014

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