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Instead Of Just Praying About A Traffic Jam Fix It.


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My first 'experiment': accidentally erasing waves!

 

By William Beaty

 

Once upon a time, years ago, I was driving through a number of stop/go traffic waves on I-520 at rush hour in Seattle. I decided to try something. On a day when I immediately started hitting the usual "waves" of stopped cars, I decided to drive smoothly. Rather than repeatedly rushing ahead with everyone else, only to come to a halt, I decided to try to move at the average speed of the traffic. I let a huge gap open up ahead of me, and timed things so I was arriving at the next "stop-wave" just as the last red brakelights were turning off ahead of me. It certainly felt weird to have that huge empty space ahead of me, but I knew I was driving no slower than anyone else. Sometimes I hit it just right and never had to touch the brakes at all. Other times I was too fast or slow. There were many "waves" that evening, and this gave me many opportunities to improve my skill as I drove along.

 

I kept this up for maybe half an hour while approaching the city. Finally I happened to glance at my rearview mirror. There was an interesting sight.

 

It was dusk, the headlights were on, and I was going down a long hill to the bridges. I had a view of miles of highway behind me. In the neighboring lane I could see maybe five of the traffic stop-waves. But in the lane behind me, for miles, TOTALLY UNIFORM DISTRIBUTION. I hadn't realized it, but by driving at the average speed of the traffic around me, my car had been "eating" the traffic waves. Everyone ahead of me was caught in the stop/go cycle, while everyone behind me was forced to go at a nice smooth 35MPH or so. My single tiny car had erased miles and miles of stop-and-go traffic. Just one single "lubricant atom" had a profound effect on the turbulent particle flow within the entire miles of "tube."

 

Read the rest of it here.

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So, what if the average speed of the traffic around you is 0?

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Traffic jams are a psychological phenomenon known as "gotta get there ahead of you". It's made worse by owning an SUV where the little cars are just in your damned way.

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I always drive in traffic jams that way, mainly to make room for those frequent unpredictable lane-changers... but I have found it does make things go smoother and maybe safer for others who choose to drive the same way.

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Can't do that around here. People beep and give you rather rude sign language, some even ram into the back bumper. Ya gotta go with the flow, which is stop and go with the flow. :( Otherwise they'll think YOU are holding up traffic. Stupid, I know...

 

If everyone went a bit slower but steady when the roads were so busy, things would be nicer...

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I have always called the stop and go motion the "slinky effect."

 

What I really HATE is when all the stop and go and slow traffic is due to people stupidly rubbernecking a pulled over car on the side of the road or anything that is going on. It can jam traffic up for MILES. :ugh:

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He was still behind the person in front of him. :Hmm:

 

 

:HaHa:

 

Seriously now, you can be stuck behind the same car for miles and miles either calmly, almost in a meditative mood... or you can be stuck with a blood pressure beyond good and evil, your engine almost melting, close to going insane because no matter what you do you simply can't get past him ;)

 

I remember well the day, years ago, when I had just left home for the university (some 20 miles away) and some madman passed me with an estimated speed of 140 kph (in a village, where you're allowed to go 50 kph!). He kept on driving like that and was soon gone from my view. Half an hour later I met him again... at a traffic light, maybe ten meters ahead of me. :lmao:

 

Indeed, much about that speed and traffic jam and whathaveyou stuff is purely psychological. Aside from an empty highway at night in fair weather, although you think you'll be much faster if you constantly overtake everyone, in the end one single truck, closed line next to a railroad station, or red traffic light is enough to equalize it all again. At least here in Germany.

Let alone that your miles-per-gallon ratio goes shitty if you drive that madly, and all the stress you put yourself under... ;)

 

So, what if the average speed of the traffic around you is 0?

 

There's always a nice roadside place for a BBQ with those other drivers. If you're stuck where you are, you can just as well have a good time there, no? ;)

Lesson to learn here: Always have some BBQ stuff in your car! :HaHa:

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