"There is no simple solution to our congestion problems because America is a vast, diverse country, and Americans value their freedom to choose where they live, and how and where they travel," AAA told federal lawmakers on May 23. In testimony before the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee, Susan Pikrallidas, vice president of public affairs for AAA, said that resolving the problem requires a multi-faceted approach that includes effective planning, local decision-making and sustained funding. "A variety of factors have converged to give us the `Perfect Storm' of congestion -- a prosperous economy, a growing population, with more people driving more vehicles on a system of roads that has not expanded to keep pace with demand," said Pikrallidas. AAA encourages federal, state and local government officials to recognize that short-and long-term transportation solutions must accommodate people's freedom to choose the transportation mode that best meets their personal needs, according to Pikrallidas. "While we should encourage alternatives to commuting by car, the fact is the automobile meets the transportation preferences and needs of most Americans and there is no sign that this preference will be overturned by wishing for a different lifestyle," said Pikrallidas. In making recommendations to the committee, Pikrallidas noted that road improvements and capacity expansion alone will not solve congestion problems. In addition she suggested that government should provide the tools and flexibility necessary to meet regional/local needs with a strong focus on the following areas: Improved Efficiency - Through Intelligent Transportation Systems, every effort should be made to improve productivity and efficiency through interactive and real-time traveler information systems, in-road safety devices, advanced in-vehicle technologies and advanced emergency assistance. Traffic Management - A variety of management strategies that include improved traffic signalization, new computer technology and adding additional turn lanes at crowded intersections. Efforts to promote options such as flextime, telecommuting and carpools should be considered. Public Transportation - There are areas and times where buses trains, and subways offer viable options, particularly in large employment centers and densely populated areas. An effective public transportation system that compliments our road network should be supported, but it must be convenient, affordably priced and accessible to commuters at varying hours. "The traffic tie-ups we experience today are the product of a strong economy, lifestyle choices and local land use decisions," said Pikrallidas. "AAA believes that effective solutions to the nation's congestion problems should be developed and implemented at the regional and local level with the input of all stakeholders in the community." About AAA As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA says it has been an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.