Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Science Behind Traffic Jams
AutoBlog ^ | March 5, 2011 | John Neff

Posted on 03/05/2011 1:42:08 PM PST by decimon

Nothing will ruin a pleasant drive quicker than the sight brake lights coming towards you on the highway. Miles ahead, someone or something has spooked the bejeezus out of traffic and now you're about to pay for it with your free time. The mighty flow of America's highways is about to be plugged by you and a couple hundred of your closest strangers.

The next time a traffic jam's iron grip has you in its clutch, you can at least take heart knowing that scientists have figured out why they happen and who's to blame. Follow the jump for this latest infographic on the Science of Traffic Jams by our friends at Car Insurance Guide, and tell us in the comments if knowing really is half the battle.

(Excerpt) Read more at autoblog.com ...


TOPICS: Travel
KEYWORDS: traffic; trafficjams
Neat graphics at link.
1 posted on 03/05/2011 1:42:10 PM PST by decimon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: decimon

I just put in my favorite CD decimon.


2 posted on 03/05/2011 1:44:03 PM PST by He Rides A White Horse (unite)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: He Rides A White Horse
I just put in my favorite CD decimon.

You're the guy causing the backup. ;-)

3 posted on 03/05/2011 1:46:59 PM PST by decimon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: decimon

My favorite kind of traffic jam is when a moron cop decides to pull somebody over on the shoulder during rush hour. The resulting miles long back up, the slamming on of brakes and the ensuing traffic accidents caused by this hero of the people keeping us safe is pathetic....

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

You know you want to defend the cop and blame it on the speeder.

Oh, and all you rubber neckers who have apparently never seen flashing lights on top of car, quit looking, smash the long pedal on the right and move on out. You sheeple don’t need to look! Same goes for accidents on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY slowing down opposite and otherwise unaffected traffic.


4 posted on 03/05/2011 1:52:28 PM PST by DariusBane (People are like sheep and have two speeds: grazing and stampede)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon

Other than the neat graphics, there’s nothing new there. Civil engineering textbooks had the same information 40 years ago.


5 posted on 03/05/2011 2:00:00 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon

A yellow light on the rear of vehicles, to alert drivers when a car is coasting, would reduce traffic jams caused by rubber necking and similar phenomenon.


6 posted on 03/05/2011 2:04:07 PM PST by rsobin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon

I moved to a small Midwest city ( South Bend IN ) about three years ago ( from Chicago and before that St. Louis ) and one thing I really love is not dealing with traffic. A traffic jam here last about 5 minutes. I remember marathon jams in Chicago that folks around here could never fathom. I got in a traffic jam once when I was literally 2 blocks from home and an hour and a half later made it home! The worst jam I was ever in was about 4 hours. Don’t miss that crap for a second.


7 posted on 03/05/2011 2:10:58 PM PST by Bud Krieger (Another President, another idiot....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Bud Krieger

The only time I ever get caught in traffic is the occasional construction zone. I haven’t been on an interstate in 6 or 8 months.


8 posted on 03/05/2011 2:18:00 PM PST by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin! (look it up))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: decimon

People are idiots behind the wheel sometimes. I had a guy in front of me come to a FULL STOP on a freeway on-ramp, just so he could watch some other guy change a tire (for all you Bay Area Freepers, this was EB 92 to SB 101 in San Mateo). Just think if he had done that after merging onto the freeway?


9 posted on 03/05/2011 2:26:46 PM PST by Disambiguator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DariusBane
"My favorite kind of traffic jam"

How about when you're in the fast inside lane, moving along at a nice clip. Then some loser moron slides in right in front of you, slowing down the entire fast lane. This dipwad keeps watching you in his rear view mirror but will not speed up (sometimes they even motion for you to back off).

Then, suddenly there is a break in the lane to your right, you move over & speed up to get around this fool. Now, the @$$hole matches your speed so you can't get ahead of them.

10 posted on 03/05/2011 2:31:58 PM PST by FW190
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: DariusBane
"My favorite kind of traffic jam is when a moron cop decides to pull somebody over on the shoulder during rush hour."

How about when the cop car is on the side of the road with lights flashing with nobody pulled over!

Happens around here all the time.

11 posted on 03/05/2011 2:43:36 PM PST by poindexter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: decimon

12 posted on 03/05/2011 2:46:02 PM PST by the invisib1e hand (Every knife in my back pushes me forward.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: FW190

Jerk the steering wheel slightly so it appears you’re moving into their lane. Most people hit the brakes when they see another vehicle coming at them from the side. They also slow down when driving alongside something that’s close to them. It’s the tunnel effect.

Same thing happens when roads are rerouted with jersey barriers. People have difficulty maintaining speed next to something that’s close so most folks slow down. It helps if you’re driving a larger vehicle.

Some folks naturally match traffic speeds depending on the situation. It’s not always on purpose.

You drive to manage traffic in your immediate vicinity. It’s part of driving to protect yourself and others. Most folks have no clue or situational awareness when they get behind the wheel.

The ones that do can be picked out easily.


13 posted on 03/05/2011 2:48:19 PM PST by meatloaf
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: FW190

You are right!

I can’t decide if the Human is a herd animal, a pack animal (wolfbpack), or like a bird, prefers flocks. But I can’t count the number of cars I have had to work hard to ditch on long highway trips. They will come screaming up behind you in the right lane, ride your bumper, pass you, come back into the right lane then slow down so much I have to come off my cruise control. So I pass them, they speed up, and stay on my right quarter so I can’t get back into the right lane without going 95. Or I can try and slow down, well, they will too.

Or the sheeple that you come up on, you signal to the left lane, you overtake and pass them (without ever changing the cruise control), move back into the right lane then they speed up dramatically to tailgate you, they pass you on the left, then just match your speed staying in the passing lane, blocking it. I look at them. They have the look of cows chewing cud. So I take off the holy cruise control to slow down, they match my speed and chew their cud. So I speed up, same thing, they speed up. So I really really really speed up to get out of the unsafe situation. Whew! Got away, re-engage cruise control, 10 minutes later guess who is on my left rear chewing cud with the 1000 mile stare? Right! Repeat and rinse.

I would like to see actual driver training on a large scale. Real hard core, push the machine and driver to failure training. Then get rid of the traffic laws. Much safer solution. Because I am forced to break the “law” to get away from unsafe drivers. Imagine how much driver training we could afford if we fired 65% of the cops, judges clerks and jerks that run the public safety programs and actually taught people how to drive?


14 posted on 03/05/2011 2:50:40 PM PST by DariusBane (People are like sheep and have two speeds: grazing and stampede)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: DariusBane

“My favorite kind of traffic jam is when a moron cop decides to pull somebody over on the shoulder during rush hour. “

Great point. I just saw that happen yesterday morning.

People were having to slow down suddenly and change lanes. The amount of danger that the officer caused should have cost him several traffic citations.


15 posted on 03/05/2011 2:55:18 PM PST by HereInTheHeartland (Yes We Can, have smaller government)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: DariusBane
"Oh, and all you rubber neckers who have apparently never seen flashing lights on top of car, quit looking, smash the long pedal on the right and move on out. You sheeple don’t need to look! Same goes for accidents on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY slowing down opposite and otherwise unaffected traffic."

A-FREAKING-MEN!!!! I am absolutely THRILLED that at least ONE other human being on this rock actually might have "common courtesy" while driving...I thought there were no others like myself...;-)

16 posted on 03/05/2011 2:58:00 PM PST by EnigmaticAnomaly ("Mantra of the left: 'It's only okay when WE do it.'")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: decimon

A first cousin of mine is a civil engineer with the NCDOT. I’ve spoken with him several times about highway design, traffic flow, etcetera. It’s actually pretty interesting, not dry and dull as it might sound initially.

Terminology that jumps out in memory would be “friction,” which refers to widely varying speeds among vehicles on multilane highways traveling in the same direction. “Friction” is bad and leads to accidents. Passing on the right is bad “friction” because it’s either unanticipated or because it puts higher speed vehicles beside merging vehicles, increasing the variation in speed and hence not just the liklihood of an accident but the severity of it.

Highest speed vehicles should always be in the lane furthest removed from lowest speed merging traffic. This explains the laws in many states requiring slower vehicles to move right for overtaking vehicles, regardless of speed. It’s safer to let Mr. Speed Demon blow past on the left for all involved. Don’t play rolling roadblock because you’re doing the speed limit, it might cost somebody else more dearly than you realize.

Another term is “slinky effect.” Ever gotten stuck in a traffic jam in the middle of nowhere, for no apparent reason that appears to break up for a short distance and then reform? Or, the typical stop and go of heavy commuter traffic, both the same thing. Disruption of the flow, whether due to an accident or traffic beyond design capacity clogging interchanges, reduces the throughput of the highway. Stoppages radiate back from the initial site, sort of like echoes and they’ll reverberate on a heavily traveled road for hours. Move, stop, move, stop. Slinky.


17 posted on 03/05/2011 3:05:08 PM PST by RegulatorCountry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: meatloaf
You drive to manage traffic in your immediate vicinity. It’s part of driving to protect yourself and others. Most folks have no clue or situational awareness when they get behind the wheel.

There's no professionalism required to drive anymore. Cars are too safe and don't require the attention they used to require. The driving experience has become too sterile.

I grew up with manual shift rear wheel drive vehicles on Michigan ice. Once I did that I can drive virtually any vehicle and I'm a very aware driver.
18 posted on 03/05/2011 3:08:36 PM PST by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin! (look it up))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: decimon

I have theory that there is a constant traffic jam on the Beltway around Washington DC. 24-7. It never dissipates - it simply moves around the Beltway as the cars in front get going and new ones get caught in the jam back behind.


19 posted on 03/05/2011 3:14:05 PM PST by 2nd Bn, 11th Mar (The "p" in Democrat stands for patriotism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon

I have commuted on NYC roads for years. I know all the idiots. What most of you describe are drivers with the “me first” syndrome. The ones who you are doing 70 and they must pass you slide to the left lane and then do 55 60 (they also have trouble holding speed). When you try to pass they will speed up to 80 to make sure you can’t get around them. (Me first) Then back to 55-60. I found drive smaller engine cars the way to defeat this is to accelerate before moving over to pass. Once you move over you have momentum and it is too late for the “me firsters”. Then I like to heavily clean my windshield and the overspray washes over their cars. This is called washing them. The best” me firster” was driving an older model Cadillac. He got so mad I passed him in my VW he was giving me the finger and squinting to try and figure what I was doing to my windshield. When the washer fluid soaked his hand boy was he pissed. I laughed all the way home.
Another thing I hate is the brain dead people that drive on the Highway with the brights on. They come up behind you and you get blinded until you can lose them. They never seem to pass just hang out and blind you. This calls for the rear defense shield. You need an unlit passenger mirror. The bigger the better. You can flip it down and Watch your headliner to reflect the brights right back at them. It works over 75% of the time. You could do it with your rear view or side mirrors but then you have to readjust them.


20 posted on 03/05/2011 3:15:11 PM PST by shoff (Cuomo is going to change the NY state motto from Excelsior to elixir (cause we bought it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon
Follow the jump for this latest infographic

So the "author" KNEW that this would be excerpted?

Interesting.

21 posted on 03/05/2011 3:15:58 PM PST by humblegunner (Blogger Overlord)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: humblegunner
Follow the jump for this latest infographic

So the "author" KNEW that this would be excerpted?

The main page has a number of articles with many of them excerpted. If you're interested in one then you can click to read the whole thing.

22 posted on 03/05/2011 3:30:40 PM PST by decimon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: the invisib1e hand

Is that a Fiat fix-it contest?First team to get their Fiat to move under it’s own power wins?


23 posted on 03/05/2011 3:42:13 PM PST by Farmer Dean (stop worrying about what they want to do to you,start thinking about what you want to do to them)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: DariusBane
And you always have to wonder, HOW could he have been speeding when traffic is moving along at maybe, if you're lucky, 10 miles an hour under the limit.
24 posted on 03/05/2011 3:42:36 PM PST by Hardastarboard (Bringing children to America without immigration documents is child abuse. Let's end it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Hardastarboard

Their are always tax stamps and paper work. If a cop causes the death of three or four innocents, that’s just the price of justice.

After all, Americans want their overlords. They want them tough, armed, everywhere, with bad haircuts, bad ass sunglasses, a code book so big it can’t fit into the back seat of your average crown vic and wide discretionary powers.


25 posted on 03/05/2011 4:17:17 PM PST by DariusBane (People are like sheep and have two speeds: grazing and stampede)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: DariusBane
"10 minutes later guess who is on my left rear chewing cud with the 1000 mile stare"

I had a guy do that to me on I70, Denver to Kansas City. I finally got tired of his shit & with me in the left lane. boxed him in between to big trucks who where in the right lane. We drove for 75 miles like that.....boy was he pissed!

26 posted on 03/05/2011 4:34:21 PM PST by FW190
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: decimon
Pretty good book and website about the same subject.

27 posted on 03/05/2011 5:07:19 PM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: humblegunner
Better yet, they provide the HTML for embedding the graphic from their site on your own:

Why Traffic Jams Happen width=
Via: Car Insurance Guide

28 posted on 03/05/2011 5:33:17 PM PST by whd23 (Every time a link is de-blogged an angel gets its wings.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: decimon

Always seeking to be on the frontline of stupidity, Massachusetts has added to routine traffic woes by the use of (I’m sure very expensive) electronic traffic signs with brilliant messages like, “Click it or ticket” (seat belt warning). Drivers instinctively slow down to read them and ‘whammo’, instant traffic jam.


29 posted on 03/05/2011 8:37:58 PM PST by oscar oscar oscar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson