by E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow Greg Walcher
As Appearing in the Daily Sentinel

When you sit at a traffic light, frustrated that it takes so long to turn green, consider that in one sense it never will. Traffic lights are among mankind’s greatest inventions for safety, and among our worst for the environment.

Numerous studies attest to the inefficiency of cars idling in traffic. The amount of fuel wasted, and the cost associated with it, are far beyond what most of us imagine. In fact, it is staggering.

One recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute and INRIX revealed that drivers in America wasted 6.9 billion hours stuck in traffic, a shocking 42 hours a year for the average rush-hour commuter. The cost was estimated at $160 billion in wasted time and fuel per year, which translates to $960 per motorist, according to that study. For commercial drivers, especially truckers, the cost is much higher. A similar study in another state estimated the number closer to $1,200 per motorist, and a USA Today report put the annual national cost at over $300 billion.