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Infographic Traffic

Why Traffic Jams Happen width=
Via: Car Insurance Guide

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011 at 5:22 am and is filed under Traffic Wonkery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 Responses to “Infographic Traffic”

  1. Jack Says:

    The I-80/94 area is constantly under reconstruction and usually jammed with semis. The best way to avoid the area is via the tollway.

  2. Glen Says:

    I used to drive I-94 all the time. the only time there wasn’t a traffic issue was at 3am. Incidentally I learned to drive on 94 roughly around 3am. Great image; props to carinsurance.org

  3. Peter Says:

    In the graphic, your “miles per hours” are “mhp.”

  4. Scott Says:

    They left out the easiest to implement and most obvious countermeasure to the “backward traveling wave” traffic jams — a safe following distance.

    If, instead of tailgating, drivers simply left a reasonable cushion between their vehicle and the one ahead of them we could significantly reduce this type of congestion.

  5. KMG365 Says:

    But Scott, wouldn’t those who want to maintain the safe distance also slow down? Eventually all that slowing down would still result in a crawl.

  6. fred_dot_u Says:

    I’ve felt that a large proportion of crashes are caused by tailgating. Drivers will not improve driving habits in that respect, as the penalties are so small as to be non-existent. When I first learned to drive, I was a regular offender in that respect. Now it appears that following too closely is a factor in many road-rage reports and certainly in many published traffic crashes. I’ve noted a large number of school bus drivers will have insufficient distance from the bus ahead, when departing the depot.

    The problem with traffic slowing down to maintain distance is that there are too many motor vehicles per given mile of roadway, the foundation of this article, but nothing seems to change that.

  7. aaron Says:

    Stay alert.
    Accelerate quickly.
    Don’t go faster than the vehicle in front of you, unless you can safely go around.
    Keep enough distance to slow down without braking (or braking little).
    Get up to speed, and do it quickly.

  8. gpsman Says:

    As per Scott, following too closely is a missing factor (according to Smith System, the most frequent driving error), but also speeding.

    Speeding is what often leads to saturation when otherwise there would be plenty of room. Oddly enough, many drivers who maintain the minimum “adequate” following distance and refrain from tailgating will take your bumper off after passing.

    In Montana, where they “sand” instead of salt the roads, this habit of many showers your windshield with gravel, and there may not be another vehicle in sight in either direction for 3 miles.

    I once had my windshield replaced and didn’t make it to 10th gear before one of those showers busted it again.

  9. Scott Says:

    KMG365 said, “But Scott, wouldn’t those who want to maintain the safe distance also slow down? Eventually all that slowing down would still result in a crawl.”

    There is no need to slow down unless the traffic in front of you slows for some reason. If everyone follows at a safe distance there should be no reason to slow down.

  10. gpsman Says:

    Scott said: There is no need to slow down unless the traffic in front of you slows for some reason. If everyone follows at a safe distance there should be no reason to slow down.

    That’s leaning toward the constant velocity fallacy.

    Many if not most motorists hit the road every time expecting traffic to flow at a constant velocity, but it never does for long, and they’re as guilty as anyone.

    Maintaining a constant velocity is not a skill many people practice once they are licensed. They tend to teach themselves to follow at a constant distance/close distance instead, which teaches them to not maintain a constant velocity, even though they still think they do, because they once ‘learned’ to.

    That said, a monster following distance can be attained 90% of the time by operating at the speed limit. That way you don’t have to immediately react to every tiny traffic speed fluctuation. Then, the trick is to adjust your velocity early, in tiny increments, in response to what traffic is doing as far in the distance as you can see.

  11. Scott Says:

    I don’t know about you, but when I get on the highway I set the cruise control and never change my speed until I get off the highway. My following distance is always several seconds (unless someone passes and then swerves back in in front of me).

    You can’t get much more constant than that.

  12. gpsman Says:

    Scott said: I don’t know about you, but when I get on the highway I set the cruise control and never change my speed until I get off the highway.

    The specifics of that technique would be fascinating. Do you set it at 45 mph and stay in the L lane?

  13. Scott Says:

    1. Merge onto highway.
    2. Set cruise control at any speed less than or equal to 65 mph.
    3. Drive.

  14. gpsman Says:

    How do you eliminate slower traffic/8 cars coming down the entrance ramp 1 car-length apart/maintain the lane to the L available for your use whenever you need it…?

    Or does your commute occur at 11pm and you only use the highway to travel 1 exit?

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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