I had the pleasure of speaking with Wes Guckert, President & Chief Executive Officer at The Traffic Group, Inc. about how his business contributes to reducing road fatalities, maintains credibility, and gives back to the community.
About The Traffic Group, Inc.
As a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) our firm offers transportation planning and traffic engineering consulting services to both government and private sector clients. The Traffic Group, Inc. provides traffic count services for state Departments of Transportation nationwide. Additionally, we provide consulting services to property owners and developers looking to build residential or commercial buildings. As you may be aware, new land use development is controlled by the local county or city as it relates to meeting current zoning regulations. Over the last two years, we have been undertaking the same types of traffic services for the Federal government including the United States Navy, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Reducing Traffic Fatalities
Our services include Traffic Signal Design, Signing & Pavement Marking, and Safety Studies for municipalities and private homeowners’ associations. Governments around the world have been taking steps to reduce road fatalities with changes such as lowering speed limits, traffic calming measures, and additional bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Traffic calming refers, primarily, to slowing traffic down and reducing the amount of traffic along roadways. Quite often, when you slow traffic, motorists will find other routes that provide a faster passage from point A to point B.
Vision Zero is a term coined by the Swedish Government in 1997 and is an international program aimed at reducing fatal crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists. Governments throughout the world and within the United States have instituted a universal speed limit, such as 25 MPH or 30 MPH. it is important to remember that if a pedestrian is hit by a car at 40 MPH versus 25 MPH, the chance of surviving an accident at 40 MPH is only 10%.
I asked Wes how firms such as his can avoid the perception that they are giving developers the results they want in order to guarantee approval of their development or zoning plans. Wes explained that engineers and planners must meet certain ethical requirements and that unless you follow the rules and provide fair and accurate assessments, your project will not be approved by the local government. In reality, it becomes incumbent upon a consulting engineer to be honest when your professional reputation is on the line. So, the bottom line is, by providing fair and honest analyses that the government agrees with, we, as a firm, continue to maintain our credibility.
Traffic Changes Since the Beginning of the Pandemic, March 2020
Traffic likely dropped by at least 50% from March 2020 through July 2020 then slowly started coming back. In many areas in Maryland, traffic is probably back to 90% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels. Commuters who use the Baltimore Beltway and the Washington, D.C. Beltway have seen how traffic has returned to near pre-pandemic levels.
Troubles with Transit
Transit ridership has not returned and is causing major issues for transit agencies throughout the United States. Transit has dropped 40% to 50% as a result of the pandemic and, in fact, was in decline prior to March 2020. It is clear that transit riders were starting to avoid transit simply because the transit agencies were not providing satisfactory service. Transit riders will tell you that they do not know if the vehicle will show up on time and whether or not the vehicles are safe and clean.
I predict that more people will continue to work from home and, of those that are commuting, fewer will take transit and fewer will carpool. Commuters remain hesitant to be in a car with other individuals and that can be seen when you witness a solo driver wearing his mask in the car by himself. To me, this is an indication that carpooling will remain in decline for quite some time into the future and use of transit vehicles (crowded buses and trains) will continue to be an issue.
In all likelihood, total traffic is likely to be potentially 5% or 10% higher than pre-pandemic conditions.
Growing The Traffic Group, Inc.
We are a service-disabled veteran owned small business (SDVOSB) and as a leader in the firm, I am spending a significant amount of time with my team conducting business development and promoting our company as an SDVOSB.
We have been working with Pugh and Tiller PR for more than five years and they have always sought out opportunities for us to become thought leaders in our respective industry by authoring bylines, opinion-based articles, submitting and securing award nominations and public speaking opportunities. You cannot put a dollar value on the success that we have reached as a result of branding our company. There is no question that the branding that has occurred because of what Pugh and Tiller PR have done is phenomenal.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I have often thought about what makes Wes run. I have determined that helping our clients succeed gives me great pleasure and knowing that the work that we do results in someone else being successful. We have 80 employees, and it gives me even greater pleasure knowing I am part of taking care of the success of 80 families.
Whatever success I have had, I am thrilled to be able to share and give back to the community. I give to Veterans organizations and other local organizations as well, including:
- Folds of Honor
- Catch-A-Lift Fund
- Carson Scholars Fund
- Believe in Tomorrow
- Empower for Life
About Wes Guckert, PTP, President and CEO, The Traffic Group, Inc.
Wes Guckert is a certified Professional Transportation Planner (PTP), a Fellow with the Institute of Transportation Engineers, and a past Instructor in the Office of Executive Education at Harvard University. He presently serves on the Leadership Council of the National Small Business Association (NSBA) and has served in a leadership position for a National Product Council with Urban Land Institute (ULI). Wes is also a member of the Texas A&M Transportation Technology Advisory Council, whose purpose is to advise Texas A&M Engineering on connected and automated transportation research; RELLIS Campus development for transportation technology research and testing; and Texas A&M Campus Transportation Technology Initiative deployment.
Mr. Guckert is an expert in traffic engineering and transportation planning. He is a technical adviser in transit planning, traffic impact analysis, traffic signal design, and traffic circulation and access studies. He has played a major role in urban and suburban area projects in the Mid- Atlantic and has consulted on projects throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as overseas in China, Indonesia, South Africa, Istanbul, and Dubai.
As the President and CEO of The Traffic Group, Inc. — a traffic engineering and transportation planning specialty firm he founded in 1985, after five years working with the Maryland State Highway Administration’s Traffic Division—Mr. Guckert has championed automated parking solutions in the United States. Working closely with system manufacturers, Wes and his team provide project pro forma, queuing analysis (to determine the number of bays and lifts needed for maximum efficiency, and conceptual plans.
With nearly 9,000 projects under his belt, Wes has learned the value of patience, plainspoken explanations and precise questions in winning over skeptical citizens on even the most controversial projects. He has also spoken at numerous conferences and workshops about automated parking, and other traffic-related topics.