Environmental impacts of road traffic - a systematic approach

Pollutant emissions from road traffic constitute very large proportions of the total emissions of oxides of carbon and nitrogen, hydrocarbons and particulates in urban areas, thus contributing greatly to greenhouse gas emissions. The cyclical and ongoing nature of traffic flows in urban areas leads to the formation, under the appropriate topographical and meteorological conditions (which are present in a number of the major Australian cities) of derived pollutants such as photochemical smog. The traffic contributions come from the burning of liquid fossil fuels by motor vehicles in traffic streams. Likewise, road traffic is the major source of noise pollution in urban areas. The overall composition of those traffic streams, in terms of vehicle type and engine/fuel type and their performance, in terms of levels of congestion, capability for free running, delays and queuing, has a large impact on the actual levels of total fuel consumption and pollutant emissions. Direct observation of area-wide pollution levels is difficult, if not impossible, and alternative means using computer-based simulation and modelling techniques are required. Computer- based impact assessment procedures also offer the means for systematic appraisal of pollution problems. The emissions of pollutants only constitute a segment of the overall problem for the impact of pollution is determined not only by the magnitude of the emission but also by the sensitivity of the land uses and populations subjected to that pollution. Thus a means is required to predict pollution loads affecting areas in the vicinity of the emissions and to assess the loads then impinging on particular land use developments. An important part of the work is concerned with the dispersion of pollution and its juxtaposition with the distribution of land use activities in a region. Research at the University of South Australia is concerned with the systematic appraisal of environmental impacts of road traffic at both the local and regional levels. In particular, the relative effects of alternative traffic management and control strategies at the local area level are of particular interest. The paper describes the main features of the USA environmental impact assessment procedures and their applications.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 13p
  • Monograph Title: Engineering and the environment: local government engineering conference - Adelaide, 18-19 March 1992

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01432786
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ATRI
  • Created Date: Aug 24 2012 5:12PM