What Is Operations Research

Topics: Road, Traffic congestion, Interstate Highway System Pages: 8 (2585 words) Published: October 8, 1999
This is an Engineering Research Paper.

What is operations research? Operations research is the application of the methods of science to complex problems arising in the direction and management of large systems of men, machines material, and money in industry, business, government and defense. The distinctive approach is to develop a scientific model of the system, incorporating measurements of factors such as chance and risk, with which to predict and compare the outcomes of alternative decisions, strategies or controls. The purpose is to help management determine its policy and actions scientifically. (Ravindran, Phillips and Solberg 1987). How does operations research apply to highway systems inefficiency? Let's find out!

"Automakers don't build roads and governments don't build autos, yet we expect cars and roads to mesh together seamlessly to form a transportation network." For year's automakers and regional transportation planners have been working to put information age technology to work solving traffic problems. All over the world people are choosing to travel by automobile because this flexible mode of travel best meets their needs. But grid locked expressways threaten to take the "mobile" out of "automobile." This presentation will try to show reasons why our expressways are so congested, what the Federal Highway Administration proposals are to alleviate congestion and the advantages and disadvantages of these proposals under review.

Firstly what are some of the causes of urban highway congestion? Rush hour traffic is one of the leading contributors of highway congestion. It isn't our imagination. Every year commute times to work take longer and longer. Since 1986 car travel has increased almost 40%, while highway capacity has barley grown. As a result most major interstate routes in Metropolitan areas are jammed during rush hours. Grid locked cost Americans almost the equivalent of $51 billion a year in lost wages and wasted fuel. And the situation is only going to get worse. (Steisand, Betsy. 1996). What causes rush hour traffic? Simply put, at specific times of the day be it in the morning or evening motorists in general are either on their way to work or home. There is such a glut of vehicles on the expressways at this time. They all need to get to their destinations at peak times of the day. It is a simple equation: Too many cars incorporated with the lack of sufficient roadways equals traffic build up or congestion.

Bottlenecks are another issue of heated debate. How is it possible to have a six lane major highway, miraculously turn or transform itself into a four-lane system? It is not possible for the quantity of cars traveling on the highways to get through this section of roadway without some delay. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this solution, which is sometimes unavoidable due to land constraints, is simply unacceptable in today's fast paced economy.

Another issue that is at the forefront of this subject is aggressive driving leading to highway accidents. We've all been there: stuck behind the slow moving truck crawling up hill on a two lane road; cut off by a speeding car that zips in front of us; tailgated by a driver who wants to practice for the Indy 500 on the local highway. (William, Cassidy 1997). " Road rage" and aggressive driving cause about one-third of highway accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concludes that these drivers must be stopped because their driving is taking a toll on America's highways. The top causes of aggressive driving are irresponsibility on the driver's part, reduced traffic enforcement, and increased congestion and traffic in urban cities.

Forces of nature also play a significant part in this scenario. In bad weather like snow, rain and fog people have a natural tendency to be more cautious and deliberate when behind the wheel of a car with these conditions. Slower movement of...

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