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Can Car Sharing Curb Traffic Congestion And Pollution?

Car sharing, implemented smartly, can replace 25 cars with 1 car in India
Can Car Sharing Curb Traffic Congestion And Pollution?
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Over the past few years, levels of air pollution have reached catastrophic dimensions in the country and cities are failing to conform to WHO guidelines for safe levels. The quantity of PM2.5 and PM10 as well as life threatening carcinogenic substances such as Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) have reached dangerous levels across most Indian cities, subjecting people to the risk of respiratory diseases and related health problems.

Delhi Government's Odd-even Rule Brought Short-lived, Positive Results

Given such a scenario, if would not be wrong to say that, car-sharing presents itself as a viable option for building a better, smarter and environment-friendly tomorrow. As more and more people begin to share cars, most of the existing vehicular traffic and transportation challenges such as traffic congestion, pollution levels will plummet. We all remember the Delhi Government's Odd-even rule, introduced not very long ago. It did bring about a positive result -- reduced road traffic induced pollution and helped in de-congesting the city, however, both the initiative as well as the outcome, was short-lived.

Traffic Congestion & Pollution Paralyze Urban Lives

Road traffic congestion and pollution are two of the most persistent, insurmountable transportation roadblocks of the modern urban city and its growing by the day. As cities comes to grinding halt every morning, policy makers are forced to think of permanent solutions that can cater to this nightmarish problem once and for all.

Lives of over half of the world's population of 7 billion people in urban areas are affected each year and the number is growing by a galloping 60 million.

Such polluted environments can lead to fatal cases of ailments and kill 1.7 million children a year.

Increased Risk Of Pneumonia Among Children

In a recent report titled "Inheriting a sustainable world: Atlas on children's health and the environment" --, the WHO cited that fatal exposure can start in the womb, and then continue if infants and toddlers are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second--hand smoke. Not only will this lead to the increased risk of pneumonia amongst children, but also lifelong chronic ailments such as asthma. Heart diseases, strokes and cancer are some of the other implications that air pollution leads to. In the WHO report released late last year, 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. The country's capital Delhi was 11th in the world list.

1.1 Million Premature Deaths In 2015

Further, on one hand the government is living in a denial mode rather than addressing this grave issue head on, on the other hand, a US-based research claimed that India's dire air pollution levels caused 1.1 million premature deaths in 2015 and the country now "rivals China for among the highest air pollution health burdens in the world". Number of pre-mature deaths in India due to rising levels of PM2.5 has risen sharply over the past decade, overthrowing China.

One-way Car Sharing Keeps 11 Vehicles Off Streets

Car sharing presents a good antidote to not just reducing pollution by bringing down the number of cars plying on the city roads but also decongesting the roads -- giving people the liberty to drive cars whenever they want without the cost burden of maintaining and parking their vehicles.

A research in the West claimed that, each car used for one-way car sharing can eradicate as many as 11 cars from the streets, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around 13 metric tons annually. Experts opine that, people tend to drive less when they don't own cars of their own.

Moreover, the concept of car-sharing or pooling in urban mobility is deeply rooted in the Indian Government's 'Smart Cities' initiative. After all, the ambitious initiative is about impeccable city planning, state-of-the-art infrastructure, optimal utilization of resources and cleanliness, environmental sustainability etc.

Replacing 25 With 1 Car-sharing

Car-sharing, implemented smartly, can replace 25 cars with 1 car in India - thereby plummeting city congestion and automobile emission related pollution.

Smart Tech Helps In Pollution Alleviation

Countries across the world are deploying innovative technologies to de-congest and de-pollute roadways. Technologies like big data and fast data analytics, Geo Coding, route and capacity optimization through software, continuous and real time updating of information, etc are playing a huge role in achieving these goals. Smart tech such as GPS, Google apps, maps, navigation tools and other mobile pivoted technologies can indeed solve a lot many other problems such as fuel wastage, pollution, unsafe roads and direct and indirect economic losses.

Several state transportation authorities in India have deployed route optimization in the public transportation systems domain. However, since, at this moment the entire process is manual -it fell behind in addressing the stark on-ground challenges.

Vehicle density on roads is increasing continuously. There were 245 cars per km of road in Delhi according to a 2015 survey. The megacity is a victim to most number of deaths, caused by air pollution. Vehicular pollution accounts for more than 70 per cent of the air pollution in Delhi.

Car Sharing Is Indispensability

So many problems have emerged amongst all this, that our planet is unable to tackle - hole in the Ozone layer, acid rain and global warming. No matter how many steps we take to make travelling an eco-friendly affair, we cannot completely do away with toxic gaseous emissions. As the number of cars increase, authorities should figure out a way to make transportation sustainable. Car- pooling or car sharing seems to be the obvious answer.

Not only car sharing will help in bringing down expenditure on fuel but also make travelling a fun -filled affair. People can also rotate each day drive, thereby saving themselves from getting fatigued. The idea is that - 5 people drive the same route to work each day and take their own individual cars. Why not travel in one car. Car sharing is no more a matter of choice, but rather indispensability, considering the horrific statistics mentioned above.

The lesser the number of cars plying on the road, the lower are the pollution levels, carbon and other gaseous substances. This helps in keeping land, water and air clean.

 
Edition: May 2017

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