Traffic Jams

Anyone who lives with traffic and is somewhat scientifically minded will eventually take notice of the patterns and causes of traffic jams. Mr. Beaty does a good job at describing traffic and his attempts to erase traffic jams. I suggest this site to anyone who drives on congested roads and highways.

Here are some ways to help prevent and erase traffic jams:
1) Drive smoothly. Be aware of what’s coming up so that you don’t have to slam on the breaks when you reach a slowdown. By the same token, don’t slam on the breaks too early, you’ll catch the people behind you off guard and cause the same problem. Try to avoid using your breaks altogether if you can do it smoothly. If you can’t, try to just tap your breaks to burn off a little speed. Oh, and if you’re in heavy traffic, don’t punch it as soon as you’re out of a jam. Unless it’s really all clear ahead (usually it isn’t), you’ll just be slamming on the breaks in 30 seconds.

2) Change lanes early. By changing lanes ahead of time, you will have a better opportunity to find a nice big gap to fill and you won’t make anyone behind you have to slow down. Watch for people who aren’t paying attention. They’ll often leave extra large gaps in front of them before they realize that traffic is moving again.

3) Merge like a zipper. This applies both to entrance and exit ramps, and to lane closures. If two lanes of equal traffic are coming together, you should expect to let one car from the other lane in front of you. Of course, sometimes the people in front of you didn’t follow the rule, so it may be necessary to allow two or even three cars in just to prevent a major jam. If two lanes are closed, or if traffic is uneven in the lanes, you may need to let even more people in ahead of you. Just try to keep as many lanes moving as possible. Once traffic comes to a stop, it’s hard to get it moving again.

These rules aren’t some trick to get you to drive in a way that will make it easier for me to get ahead of you. They actually help all traffic move smoother, faster, and safer.