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Experiment Shows Traffic 'Shock Waves' Cause Jams 642

Posted by Zonk
from the science-in-the-wheels dept.
Galactic_grub writes "Japanese researchers recently performed the first experimental demonstration of a phenomenon that causes a busy freeway to inexplicably grind to a halt. A team from Nagoya University in Japan had volunteers drive cars around a small circular track and monitored the way 'shockwaves' — caused when one driver brakes — are sent back to other cars, caused jams to occur. Drivers were asked to travel at 30 kmph but small fluctuations soon appeared, eventually causing several vehicles to stop completely. Understanding the phenomenon could help devise ways to avoid the problem. As one researcher comments: 'If they had set up an experiment with robots driving in a perfect circle, flow breakdown would not have occurred.'"
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Experiment Shows Traffic 'Shock Waves' Cause Jams

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  • Brakes. Not breaks. (Score:5, Informative)

    by caluml (551744) <{slashdot} {at} {spamgoeshere.calum.org}> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:04AM (#22635528) Homepage
    1. It's brakes. Brakes. Breaks is when something stops working. 2. This is obvious to anyone who has driven much. Try not to use your *brakes* on the motorway. Try to "iron out" the waves by ever so slowly dropping back when you see them approaching.
    • by wattrlz (1162603) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:05AM (#22635554)
      Well, it's an understandable mistake. They're, "Breaking" the flow of traffic, after all.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bassgoonist (876907)
      If someone breaks their car I'm sure it could cause traffic to stop moving...:-P
    • by Yold (473518) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:11AM (#22635654)
      Tailgating is a problem too. It really pisses me off, that even in non-rushhour traffic, some idiot is always less than a car-length off my back end. Leaving a buffer zone allows you to avoid using your breaks when traffic slows.

      I wonder how much aggressive driving (someone speeding up to 90, and then cutting in front of you for seemingly no reason), contributes to breaking shock waves. I've seen it happen often enough where someone will make an unnecessary maneuver to get 30 feet ahead of traffic.
      • by Strawser (22927) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:28AM (#22635902) Homepage
        It's a combination of people who ride slow in the left-hand lane and speeders. The people (whom I'd like to shoot) that pull over to the passing lane and then drive the same speed as the car to their right cause rolling road-blocks. When faster-moving traffic inevitably catches up to them, it can't pass, so it builds up into a massive pack of slow-moving crap. Then, sooner or later, someone taps his brakes, and then the one behind him does it just a bit longer, and so on and so forth, until there's a stop for no reason. Meanwhile, the jerk-off in the left hand lane at the head of this rolling traffic jam is still doing just fine at 50 MPH.

        If police would enforce rules against driving too slowly (generally defined as being passed on the right (because if traffic is passing you on the right, then you need to get the fuck over)) as they do aggressive driving, the problem would be much less prevalent. Then, the faster moving traffic could pass the slower moving traffic, keep on going, and there wouldn't be any problems. Sadly, though, that's not the case in any metro-area I've dealt with. Instead, the jerkoff Sunday Driver creeping along at 50 in the passing lane just has to be dealt with, usually by getting around him in the right hand lane, then speeding up to 90 and cutting in front of him so you can pass the traffic on the right.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by T-Bone-T (1048702)
          Sadly enough, getting passed on the right can't be reason alone for a ticket. While I was moving, I had to block traffic with my car so my parents and my stuff could move back over into the left lane. They passed a slow truck and everyone was so impatient to get around they just started squeezing by on the right until I got in their way.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          the jerkoff Sunday Driver creeping along at 50 in the passing lane just has to be dealt with,

          I could not agree more. These people seem to take pleasure in being a complete obstacle. For the life of me, I cannot understand why someone would willingly drive slowly in the left lane it's insane and definitely a major contributing factor to this problem.

          If police would enforce rules against driving too slowly (generally defined as being passed on the right ...as they do aggressive driving, the problem would be much less prevalent.

          While I agree, and I would like to see that enforced better, we should be careful about what we wish for. I just recently got an education (from an area police officer with ticket book in hand....$375 later) that passing on the right is ALSO

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            passing on the right is only illegal in certain states. I know it's legal in my state but ticket worthy in some of the neighboring states.

            as for why people go all the way to the left when they get on the high way. it's just a zombie driver mentality thing. They _THINK_ they're a "fast driver" and that lane is for them, or they think that by being in that lane they're allowed to go faster.

            Some drivers just go one speed no matter what road they're on. For example: last year I needed to follow my aunt so
      • by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:44AM (#22636062) Journal
        Tailgating is THE problem.

        I try to stay far enough behind the car ahead of me so that when he brakes, I merely have to remove my foot from the accelerator so I don't convert my kinetic energy to heat. Of course, some dipshit always sees the three car length hole in the thirty mph traffic (you're supposed to maintain 1 car length for every 10mph anyway but none of the fucktards in Springfield do) and fills it in.

        If people maintained a reaonable distance (the 1 car lenhgth for each 10 mph) you wouldn't have this effect, or if it occurred it wouldn't be so bad.

        Every time you touch your brake for any reason whatever you throw fuel away as waste heat.

        <jk>(global warming comes from the hot air blowing out of the world's capitols)</jk>

        -mcgrew
        • by ectal (949842) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @12:52PM (#22637036) Homepage
          I like the 3 second rule better than the car length rule. Regardless of your speed you should be 2-3 seconds behind the next car.

          And yes. Tailgating certainly is a HUGE problem. What's most astonishing to me is how many people shrug it off as no big deal or even justify their own tailgating behavior by saying something like: "Well, it's much worse and more dangerous to be driving slow on the freeway." This is of course utter nonsense. Tailgating is insanely dangerous, leads to a huge number of accidents, and in my mind is the equivalent of pulling a knife on someone for taking too long getting their wallet out at the grocery store.

          (I would love to see widespread police crackdowns on tailgating, but I'm guessing it's just easier to prove speeding in court so that's where the tickets go. Anyone know if that's it?)
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by fumblebruschi (831320)
            I think the real problem of tailgating is that it becomes an ingrained habit, and the drivers who do it tailgate in all circumstances on all roads. Yesterday I was driving at 65 MPH in the right-most lane. Traffic was not particularly congested. To my left was a big rig, some hundred yards back but moving faster than I was. In the left-most lane were a few cars passing by at about 80. So a car appears further back in the right lane doing 90 or so. He didn't want to slow down the time it would take for
            • by ectal (949842) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:42PM (#22638062) Homepage
              Right. In the area I'm in, I see that kind of behavior all the time. And you're right that it's a mentality and habit that follows the driver everywhere. I've had people tailgating me through 20mph school zones. For that matter, I've had people tailgate me in parking lots.

              Another interesting aspect of the problem is how many people who aren't these kind of habitual tailgaters will become tailgaters when speeds drop, e.g., on exit ramps. They maintain a safe distance until the speed gets down to 50 or 40mph. Then it's as if they forget that much past 30mph is fatal crash territory, and they plant themselves one foot off the next car.

              I think the root cause for all this is a lack of respect for how potentially dangerous driving is in general. You won't find large numbers of gun owners who play with guns like toys (though they're out there), but you can find plenty of people who treat driving with all the care and attention they put into watching TV. There just isn't enough respect for driving. If there were, accident rates would plummet. I'm just going to hold out hope for a day when reckless driving is rare.
      • I always thought that people who drove aggressively (well) were smoothing out the "shock waves" by avoiding congestion and filling gaps where traffic was too spaced out.

      • I was taking compressible fluid dynamics (that's the study of supersonic flow) when I picked up a book about traffic engineering. I noticed one of the formulas was very similar to a formula I was using lots in class. I looked more closely and realized that both equations must be describing similar phenomena. I've driven hundreds of thousands of miles since then, much of it in heavy traffic. A typical problem you solve in compressible fluids goes like this: there is air flowing in a pipe at over M=1 and
    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:13AM (#22635694)
      Dude, don't loose your mind. I was just making a joke up they're. If you come off you're rocker that quickly I wonder what you have up their in your noggin. Sounds like a screw lose or something. I mean I didn't try to effect you in anyway, but now look how you've gone and disrupted the affect the original poster had. Here me out, there are a lot of people that are knew hear. You should calm down than come back later.

      (stolen from myself [tdiclub.com])
    • Your astute criticism seems to have accomplished the unthinkable - a slashdot correction. At least this is my assumption, since other people also quoted the original "when one driver breaks" phrase.

      Amazing that they will fix this but often leave completely inaccurate articles uncorrected.
    • by CmdrGravy (645153)
      Exactly, the most annoying people are in the world are the ones who are constantly touching the brakes on the motorway because they are unable to judge the speed of the traffic in front of them properly because you have to leave a massive gap behind them which people then jump into and also begin to randomly break when the guy in front of them gets back up to his tricks again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)
      Yes and no.

      I remember getting this as a result from a simple discrete model written in Turbo Pascal as far back as early 90-es. No need to make volunteers drive cars. Once the traffic exceeds a certain density waves and fluctuations in it will show up straight away. There is even some math proof of the instabilities in mass service theory. It's been a while so I cannot remember.

      Anyway, this is Japanese science. Anyone who has had to suffer from reading a Japanese publication knows what I am talking about. P
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:05AM (#22635550) Journal
    I have respect for my fellow drivers, and only use the gas pedal. Breaking is for pussies.
    • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:15AM (#22635728)
      Actually if you're following at the correct distance you shouldn't need your brakes in all but the most extreme situations like getting cut off. I know I try to minimize breaking most of the time and in non-gridlock situations I can keep from touching my break pedal probably 80% of the time when the car in front of me touches theirs. It requires looking several cars ahead and easing off the gas well ahead of the ripple location but if more people drove like this I bet most of those stupid sudden stop points could be eliminated.
      • by jdavidb (449077) *

        I follow the rule of taking my foot of the accelerator at a "yellow light condition" and hitting the brakes at a "red light condition." A yellow light is obviously a yellow light condition (unless for some other reason of safety I need to start hitting the brake), but several other things are "yellow light conditions" to my brain and this actually makes my driving real smooth: if the brake lights of the car two cars in front of me come on, that's a yellow light condition. If the turn signal of the car in

        • by T-Bone-T (1048702) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:49AM (#22636156)
          When traffic gets slow, I love getting behind a semi. I might not get up to speed as quickly once I'm past the problem area but I can maintain close to the same slow speed for a long time. It makes the situation much less stressful.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mapkinase (958129)
          So basically you are proposing to pay attention to driving during driving? But how I can drink coffee and talk on the cell phone at the same time if I am paying attention to the road? Your proposals are outrageous!
      • by Steve525 (236741) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:52AM (#22636208)
        Actually if you're following at the correct distance...

        You, sir, have never driven on any of the highways near NY city. If you had, you would know that it is impossible to drive the correct distance behind the car in front of you. It's not merely that you'd be only person on the highway doing such a thing (annoying the cars behind you); it's that those car lengths will instantly be taken up by people cutting in front of you. You would then be forced to slow down, and the process would repeat until you find yourself driving backward.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mapkinase (958129)
        You think you are smart, ah? I bet you would not be able to do that while talking on the phone and sipping coffee at the same time.

        Gotcha!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by coop247 (974899)
      In case it hasn't already been said, GET OFF YOUR F***ING CELL PHONE AND DRIVE MORON. Whew, needed to get that off my chest.
    • by Ngarrang (1023425)
      I try to maintain a safe distance in front of the cars behind me at all times through the proper application of the gas pedal.

      I just wish that more Americans followed the concept of "Drive Right". The far left lane is NOT for doing the post speed limit or less. Oh, and that turn signal thingy...try using is occasionally.

      Sorry, I will stop ranting now.
  • by mhifoe (681645) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:06AM (#22635566)

    caused when one driver breaks
    Maybe some more reliable drivers would have made the experiment more successful.
  • by Kingrames (858416) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:06AM (#22635574)
    Well there's your problem right there.

    You wouldn't have this problem if you wrote your own drivers.
  • physorg (Score:5, Informative)

    by _14k4 (5085) <sullivan.t@noSPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:07AM (#22635580)
    It's already been done here, on Slashdot - already solved [slashdot.org] by the math guys, outlined on physorg.

    But really any time I can see math at work in my day-to-day commute, is a good day to me. Also, it's fun to reach out and "touch" the asshole 200 yards behind you...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, and the other part of science is...

      GOING INTO THE FIELD AND DOING PRACTICAL EXPERIMENTS.

      By the look of it, it looks like these researchers confirmed what the mathematicians predicted would happen. Someone brakes too hard, or too early, and the rest of the flow of traffic behind them is now all fucked up.

      I swear, I've seen people bitch that "oh, problem could've been busted on mythbusters if they just did the math and left it at that" and not realize that the follow through is to... DO THE EXPERIMENT.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by _14k4 (5085)
        I mentioned no such nonsense... I was reiterating that it was shown, mathematically... and my reply stated that "omg I enjoy it when math backs up real life. btw here is the physorg link." I didn't really bitch about /. reprinting a story, or "old news" and all of that.

        Frankly, I think the only reason one could do this experiment is for the excuse to drive little cars in the name of science.

        So, quityerbitchin' and realize that I was backing up the experiment with math.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Yup and researched and discovered more than 5 years ago. Unless there is something vastly different from Japanese drivers compared to the drivers here in the usa it's simply confirmation that the research done by grad students here is 100% correct.

      Anyone that has paid attention and driven in heavy city traffic has seen this. The hill coming into detroit on I96 you can watch in the early morning a wave of breaklights coming to you from a mile away. the undulation continues for the next 30 miles and probab
    • Yea, I thought I'd seen this before here and other places including this simulation http://vwisb7.vkw.tu-dresden.de/~treiber/MicroApplet/ [tu-dresden.de] (java warning). A lot of the modeling is interesting because it simply captures a lot of the real behavior you see every day.

      A couple of early posters are making jokes about faulty drivers and writing your own. But honestly, eliminating the human component from driving would significantly improve traffic flow across the board and would allow it to be optimizable. It's
    • Even older than that (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Scareduck (177470)
      I read a study prepared for Caltrans back in the 70's that deduced exactly the same thing. The state of traffic "science" seems to be about repeating the same insight over, and over, and over ...
  • dark helmet (Score:4, Funny)

    by twoboxen (1111241) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:07AM (#22635588)

    I knew it... I'm surrounded by *ssholes.

    Keep braking, *ssholes!

  • stability (Score:4, Interesting)

    by backwardMechanic (959818) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:09AM (#22635614) Homepage
    'If they had set up an experiment with robots driving in a perfect circle, flow breakdown would not have occurred.'

    Is that true? If the robots had been fixed to a set driving speed (open loop), maybe. But if the robots had some sort of collision avoidance, it could still happen. It's instability in the control algorithm, no?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bondsbw (888959)

      Absolutely. Last semester in my graduate robotics class, I had robots follow each other through loops (eventually meant to simulate an intersection control technique). I used collision avoidance on each robot.

      I first tested each loop in simulation. The robots would all start at the same acceleration. At a certain saturation of robots, the whole system would break down due to the "waves" of traffic congestion caused by collision avoidance.

      Mind you, this was with simulation that was nearly perfect (th

  • I can't find the reference, but clearly remember reading about the physics of traffic jams 20 years ago.
    there are a lot of complex things going on, but two simple principles stand out
    when someone ahead of you brakes, you need some time (distance) to react
    if you are far enough away, you will slow the same amount as the person ahead of you
    if you are to close to the vehicle ahead of you, then your reaction time is such that you will over compensate and over brake; the same to the person behind you and
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by foobsr (693224)
      I can't find the reference, but clearly remember reading about the physics of traffic jams 20 years ago.

      I do as well, and I recall there was even software (e.g. GPSS) to simulate the phenomenon. But nice to see how an experiment validates historic findings (which have probably not made it to Google yet and thus practically do not exist).

      CC.
  • by explosivejared (1186049) <hagan.jared@NosPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:10AM (#22635636)
    ... as much as the next guy, but it's been done here [slashdot.org] many times. Slow news day I guess, but nobody is surprised by this. It's pretty much common sense.

    See when you put cars in the article, that immediately takes away the ability to use a car analogy. No car analogies = no lively discussion, or something like that. It's an approximation. Adding Natalie Portman or something involving Ron Paul changes the equation slightly, but car analogies are where it's at.
  • Wow, big news. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ihlosi (895663) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:13AM (#22635690)
    So they managed to re-create a phenomenon under controlled conditions that anyone who has ever driven on a crowded highway can readily observe ? Whoop-de-doo.

    Then again, I remember seeing stuff like that back at the university, where they were trying to combine traffic models with a Kalman filter to achieve better traffic jam prediction. That was, uh, over five years ago.

  • by NetDanzr (619387) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:13AM (#22635700)
    ...that cut people off, forcing them to brake. What makes this even worse here in Atlanta is the fact that nobody uses blinkers to indicate they are about to cut you off. I propose a system where cars of people who cut others off are immediately stalled. That'll help the traffic flow...
    • Its all the people driving SLOWLY that makes us aggressive people cut them off!
      • by splutty (43475)

        Its all the people driving SLOWLY that makes us aggressive people cut them off!

        Making them slow down even more, and consequentially making everyone behind them slow down even more, shockwaving to a total standstill some miles down the road.

        Yeah.. So actually cutting someone off makes sure you won't have anyone behind you for a while. Hmm... There might be merit to that idea :)
        • by NetDanzr (619387)
          Won't help you much, because n front of you is an aggressive driver who cuts people off, creating another traffic slowdown that you're just gonna hit in the next minute or two ;)
  • robots (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:18AM (#22635766) Homepage Journal
    If they had set up an experiment with robots driving in a perfect circle, flow breakdown would not have occurred.

    I, for one, welcome our new japanese robot driver overlords.

    but seriously, I take this as a hint as to what is to come in the future for japan.
  • 1. First car decelerates.
    2. Due to reaction time, the second car has to decelerate at a higher rate in order to maintain a safe distance from first car.
    3. Due to most drivers only looking at the car in front of them (instead of also checking whether the cars farther ahead are braking), repeat #2 for the following cars - each of them has to decelerate at a higher rate than the car in front of them (-> positive feedback, which is usually a bad thing in systems theory. At least if you want a stable system
  • how many times people keep "discovering" the same thing. This has been on /. at least twice in the past.

    Everything you need to know:
    http://www.eskimo.com/~billb/amateur/traffic/traffic1.html [eskimo.com]

    More:
    http://jalopnik.com/335832/traffic-jam-mystery-solved-++-blame-the-wave [jalopnik.com]

    People need to do a simple google search before starting research.
  • Every few years, someone does research to show exactly this same result. My applied math lecturer Prof. Ren Potts gave us a whole term of lectures on the subject of traffic behaviour in the early 1970s at Adelaide Uni. He wrote a book about it, which was the course textbook. In particular, he based the theory (involving Laplace transforms) on experiments in a tunnel between New Jersey and New York. He drove a car in the tunnel and put on the brakes, and the traffic came to a halt. But then he advised that t
  • ...is how to prevent rubbernecking.

    It cause jams in BOTH directions.
  • If the drivers were open source instead of provided from the vendor as "black boxes" with just a wrapper interface, we could *fix* this instead of waiting for new ones to evolve...
  • by starglider29a (719559) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:29AM (#22635912)
    I have long thought that if there was a pair of LED's in the upper left corner of the vehicle, that indicated "at/above speed limit" or "below speed limit" this would solve many problems. The problem is that, like sound in gas, the notification to slow down is given by the car in front of you only (the molecule about to bump you).

    But I could see a half a mile of cars all with little green lights, I could see (at the speed of light) the wave of yellow lights approaching and ease off the gas. The wave would be absorbed by this 'viscosity'. Traffic would flow near the speed limit or average flow rate, whichever the LED's were keyed to.

    And don't even get me started on those GPS nav screens. Don't show me were I am. Show me where everyone else is. Let me see the compression 2 miles ahead and I'll chill (heh heh kinetic gas pun).
  • Tolls can do the same thing as well as other choke point on roads. You can fix part of the toll part by going to ETC but to fix the points you need to add more lanes and or make merging point have more room to work at the traffic in to the main line of the road I'm looking at you I-90 / I-190 / I-294 going inbound on I-90. AUX lanes also help when you have ramps that are right next to each other.
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:32AM (#22635940)
    Very silly article. IIRC traffic researchers in the mid 60's figured out the same thing, by running simulations on a 0.22 MIPS IBM/360. In FORTRAN.

    Guys, there really is a benefit to hitting the library and thumbing through back issues of ld technical journals.

  • Modern Marvels (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ranger (1783) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:33AM (#22635944) Homepage
    I saw a History Channel Modern Marvels episode in highway tech and one researcher was using computer models and he determined it only takes one car to fuck things up for the rest of us. Let me repeat that it only takes one car driving slower than the rest of us to cause congestion and traffic jams on the highway.
  • We have these cars that automagically follow the car ahead at the same distance. What happens if you put a chain of them on the freeway?
  • caused when one driver brakes

    a good driver doesn't need brakes.
  • Am I the only one who said 'Duh' when I read this? I've known this for many years. It took a STUDY to figure it out?
  • 1998 called! (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigattichouse (527527) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:50AM (#22636166) Homepage
    1998 called and wants Its amazing news back [eskimo.com] Except he even built animated Gifs to illustrate!
  • by nozzo (851371) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @12:41PM (#22636888) Homepage
    I played with this a couple of years back:

    http://vwisb7.vkw.tu-dresden.de/~treiber/MicroApplet/ [tu-dresden.de]

    shame this post is buried down deep :-(
  • Traffic dampening. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:23PM (#22637670)
    I'm convinced tailgating is the primary source of this problem. It's not so much that drivers want to tailgate but rather they're trying to drive at the maximum speed the conditions allow. This basically guarantees that they do tailgate and then are forced to brake on a regular basis to moderate their speed. And of course once anyone brakes it gets amplified because anyone behind them brakes even more. Aggravating this problem is the fact that many of these people are apparently incapable of coasting, and instead stomp on the gas every time they see an opening.

    I've read, and have observed for myself, that big trucks act as dampers. Because they brake and accelerate more slowly they need to maintain greater distance from vehicles in front of them. They can nullify a traffic wave because by the time they've reached cars which had been stopped they've begun moving again which essentially ensures that the truck continues rolling.

    I've applied this technique to rush hour traffic myself and unless traffic is particularly bad its extremely effective. Basically accelerate more slowly than the car ahead of me giving myself a considerable gap. And by considerably I mean a good 5 to 10 car gap. Then I let myself roll in first, maybe second gear. If I see cars braking ahead I regulate my speed more carefully. Most of the time, when I reach those cars ahead of me they're already accelerating again and I keep right on moving, maintaining a consistent speed.

    What disrupts this is when idiots feel the need to get into any opening they see, worse, when they can't stand the fact that I've left an opening in front of me larger than they find acceptable. To them, they're not making progress if they aren't riding someone else's bumper.

    I usually find that in rush hour this doesn't happen as frequently because people seem to be worn down an resigned to slow-moving traffic. They jockey for position a lot less frequently than they would on the weekend when heavy traffic is less common.

    Then there's the New York area where drivers are overly aggressive and downright idiotic. There's nothing to be done then. But I also think their driving habits have arisen as a result of horrendously designed and constructed highways. I think better highway design could go a long way to alleviating traffic problems.
  • by BanjoBob (686644) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:02PM (#22638544) Homepage Journal
    I did a study back in the early '80s about traffic congestion in Los Angeles, CA and based the study on standing waves. It described how turns in the road, and other features actually contributed to the inefficiency of traffic flow. It also explained the bunching up of traffic in a wave pattern where there are actually areas mostly free of cars every few miles while other areas are packed up very tight.

    This article is finding many of the same conclusions I had back then. Is there a fix? I don't know but traffic on a large scale is fluid.

    God help us when we have flying cars and we have to deal with idiot drivers above us and below us!

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