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 #36943  by Remav
 Sat Jun 20, 2015 6:58 am
KuroNekko wrote:...especially when American roadways are generally more congested where people actually live and drive.

OK, I'll walk you through the math. There are roughly 7500 miles of Autobahn. There are roughly 47500 miles of US interstate.

82.5 Mil/1000 X 588 = 48 mil cars / 7500 mi = 6,429 cars/mile in Germany.
320 Mil/ 1000 X 809 = 259 Mil cars / 47500 mi = 5,450 cars/mile in the US.

...but the rest of your argument is pretty sound. Speed Kills. I remember reading about 1 gory silver lining is that the trauma technology in Germany has been advanced largely due to high speed Autobahn crashes.

I can tell you my most white knuckled driving moment was being door to door, bumper to bumper in a narrow construction zone through LA where the entire line of cars was moving about 90 - 95. That simply wouldn't happen in Germany so that's why you are correct in the apples to apples not applying here. ...but just stop trying to tell people we have more congestion. We don't. Sitting in stop & go traffic happens there too & it doesn't get any more congested than that. On the other hand I've actually emptied a complete tank of gas on a bike with the throttle locked wide open going through Nevada. That'll never happen in Germany.
 #36975  by KuroNekko
 Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:31 pm
Remav wrote:
KuroNekko wrote:...especially when American roadways are generally more congested where people actually live and drive.

OK, I'll walk you through the math. There are roughly 7500 miles of Autobahn. There are roughly 47500 miles of US interstate.

82.5 Mil/1000 X 588 = 48 mil cars / 7500 mi = 6,429 cars/mile in Germany.
320 Mil/ 1000 X 809 = 259 Mil cars / 47500 mi = 5,450 cars/mile in the US.

I'm going to have to strongly disagree about the validity of your calculations and also the reality of comparable traffic for everyday commuting for a number of reasons.
For starters, what you're lacking to incorporate is that Germans have good and widely-used public transportation. We Americans comparatively don't, even in large cities like Los Angeles. Other than NYC and maybe a few other densely populated metropolises in America, public transportation is inadequate and therefore many Americans drive out of necessity. Also, many Americans live in suburbs which don't have adequate public transportation into the city or location of work. This is also another factor why many Americans have to drive, especially on freeways. So the fact that Germany may have more cars per mile in your calculations (only really reflective of population to land mass density) may actually not have real-world validity. Just because one owns a car in Germany doesn't mean one uses it to commute to work on a regular basis. Driving the car to get groceries or on a trip on the weekends doesn't really equate to the realities of workday traffic for commuting. This then has a huge bearing on factors like rush-hour traffic and everyday commuting congestion.

Also, your calculations include ALL interstates in America, including freeways that run through vast rural and unpopulated areas in the United States. These will greatly skew the data to the point of irrelevance for a valid comparison. It doesn't matter how much interstate there is for comparison if they run through places like the Great Plains where the majority of Americans don't live. Basically, the vast difference in land size of the two countries and America's relative open space in some (but huge) regions really make any reasonable congestion comparison vastly flawed if you include data from the entire nation.

Lastly, let me give you an actual example why your calculations have problematic real-world validity. I admittedly don't have much subjective/personal experience with Germany's congestion having never been or lived there, but I can tell you a lot about Japan's to highlight the validity issues of your calculations. Given I've lived in Japan nearly half of my life, I'd say I have a realistic sense of traffic congestion and commuting there. But first, let's apply your calculations to Japan's stats:
127 mil/1000 x 588 = 74.6 mil cars / 7150 mi = 10,444 car/mile in Japan.
Japan has the same 588 figure as Germany according to the same source. Their population is 127 million and their expressways span roughly 7150 miles. These figures all add up to an atrocious car per mile figure (nearly double of the US) according to your method. However, this calculation is not reflective of reality regarding vehicle commuting congestion in Japan. Why? Because of a number of huge factors that make driving and commuting in Japan so different from the US.
First, Japan arguably has the best and most networked public transportation system in the world, namely in rail. In Tokyo during rush hour, some train lines come every 20 seconds, each carrying hundreds of passengers. I've experienced it myself. Not only that, most people live within the city they work in so commuting via car is not a reality. In fact, owning a car is not even necessary in urban regions of Japan. With Germany's population density, it's only logical that people also heavily rely on public transportation. In fact, Germany is Europe's #1 train-riding nation with 10 million daily riders.
Also consider that most people in other nations don't often live outside the city they work in and don't rely on their personal vehicles for commuting as much as we Americans do. This then greatly affects real-world conditions of what contribute to traffic congestion on an everyday basis, not to mention the likelihood of accidents. Basically, it's just not valid to compare commuting realities via car from America to Germany when the Germans are heavily relying on public transportation to get around. Also, we were talking about the Autobahn. I have high doubts many Germans actually commute using it. They are likely to commute using public transportation while traveling for other purposes on the Autobahn.

A better measure to examine how much we actually drive is comparing national miles driven per year. This is a better statistic because it reflects how much people are actually driving instead of statistically skewed numbers of cars per mile (which better tells you how hard it is to find parking). The US varies depending on region but the national average is close to 13,500 miles a year. Germany? One figure I found equated to about 7500 miles per year. Japan? About 5800 miles per year. These figures are nearly inversed compared to your measure of cars per mile respective to their nations. See, it doesn't matter how many cars there are in a country if they aren't frequently driven. The miles per year figure clearly shows that Americans nearly drive twice as many miles per year than Germans. Combine that with our comparative lack of efficient public transportation and you get the reality: Americans drive much more and sit around in traffic (largely from a lack of choice) more commonly than Germans.

Lastly, a study by INRIX compiled averages of hours wasted in traffic per year from the same data source.
The number for the US was taken by averaging the 10 worst US cities for traffic. That number was 47 hours in 2013.
Germany? An average of 35 hours in 2013.
Remav wrote: ...but just stop trying to tell people we have more congestion. We don't.

We actually do and the valid statistics back it up.
 #36979  by Remav
 Tue Jun 23, 2015 2:52 am
I thought about actual miles driven/yr. Glad you found some stats that look worthwhile. I can think of one thing that would also have to be factored in. True, they drive less/yr and probably because of large use of public transportation availability. However, my bet is that the miles they do drive are very skewed toward being autobahn miles. (If New Mexico had 7500 mi of autobahn & you needed to get somewhere 50 miles in any direction, then you would most likely be taking the autobahn) whereas here in the US, since we pretty much all drive to work you will find that a large number of miles will be on regular streets or side roads & not the freeway.

I've also been to Japan a couple times & rented a car last time. I put on about 1,200 miles in about 10 days and was struck by how NOT congested things were. ...but if it cost $10 each and every time you wanted to pull on to one of our freeways they would be wide open too.

I lived in PA/NJ 20 yrs. Phoenix for 6 & now Denver area for about 5. (among other places where "The Freeway" was a very long drive away) One reason I moved from PA to NJ because my 45 mile commute had grown from 45 min to 1:30. But even when I left the area 10 years later, if you drove outside of rush hour (...and really only morning rush hour) the travel time was back to 45 to 60 minutes. In Germany, it just didn't matter what time you drove. Of course, they did have their peak traffic times, but they were not markedly different than my 2 AM experience. Full. Full. Full. Construction, Construction, Construction.

...interrupted with a small number of 120 mph sections filled with a fleeting bit of automobile bliss.