Several problems are arising across the country because of unusually harsh weather conditions. New research from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) has indicated that climate change is causing serious damage to U.S. roads and transportation systems. In a report released earlier this month, TRB contends that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, predominantly carbon dioxide (CO2), linger in the atmosphere for up to 500 years and these emissions are destructive to the nation’s infrastructure as well as to the environment. With the transportation sector contributing nearly 30% of all GHG emissions, TRB hopes the new research will help make transportation professionals more aware of the relationship between transportation, the environment and changing weather conditions.
Ominously, TRB also predicts that climate change will intensify, causing an increase in the risks and impacts for transportation systems, facilities and operations. Transportation infrastructure in the U.S. has been deteriorating because of extreme weather conditions. Record-level flooding washed out roadways in several states, hurricanes put gaping holes in several major thruways, heavy winds knocked down trees, limbs and electrical wiring and have lifted heavy projectiles into already weakened bridge and overhead structures causing further damage. Tom Scullion, a senior research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M
University said that heat and drought have caused the clay-rich soils under highways to “just shrink like crazy” leading to “horrendous cracking.” Data collected by the National Weather Service is predicting that there is a high likelihood of hotter than normal temperatures and drier than normal conditions lasting from August through October, continuing drought conditions in 56% of the lower 48 states. The considerable damage the agricultural sector is incurring because of these droughts will eventually negatively impact the nation’s entire economy.
On a positive note, TRB credits the transportation industry for its efforts in developing more efficient vehicles and fuels to curb the growth of environmental damage caused by GHG emissions. As a professional limousine driver, you can do your part by avoiding high speeds which burn fuel faster, reducing prolonged idling when waiting for passengers and keeping your vehicle properly tuned and maintained.