# Thread: Fascinating Amateur Traffic Experiments

1. ## Fascinating Amateur Traffic Experiments

http://amasci.com/amateur/traffic/trafexp.html

What in interesting subject. I do this too, when in a traffic jam I try to maintain a constant pace rather than start and stop.

2. Cool!

3. Fight traffic with anti-traffic!

4. I too have envisioned this same theory and have, on a limited basis, effectively executed it.

The average nut job driver is their own worst enemy. It is obvious that if every driver tried to maintain a significant gap ahead of them, say a hundred feet at 55 on the freeway, then traffic would flow at a much greater rate without the insane "come to a complete stop and then go a car length" scene that always happens.

Somebody has called it "Darwin's Rule" or something like that. The average Bozo is actively trying to extinct themself.

5. This is awesome! I've had this stuff on my mind since some author used traffic jams as an example of an emergent phenomenon in a book I read. While the "wave" effect and bottlenecks have crossed my mind, there's another theoretical source of jams that this guy doesn't mention: the medium speed people.

Let's say (arbitrarily) that our model highway has two lanes (in the same direction). The people on the right are doing an average of, say, 55. The people on the left are doing an average of 75. We assume the following:

1. every driver has an "optimal" speed at which they wish to travel;
2. a driver in the right lane will change lanes if and only if the person directly in front of em is travelling at a speed less than their optimal speed with a margin greater than an aribitrary percentage of their speed ("tolerance margin") AND if there is sufficient room in the left lane;
3. A driver in the left lane will change lanes if and only if there is sufficient room in the right lane AND there are no cars in the right lane immediately ahead that are travelling at less than the driver's optimal speed by said margin.

No evidence, but I think these are realistic for the traffic densities we'll be concerned with. Of course, "sufficient room" is dependent on both speed and driver, but let's avoid math for now. Now let's say, using the assumptions and parameters above, that there is a group of cars ahead travelling at 55 (or slightly under, because the cars are limited by the slowest, but not by so much as their tolerance margin). The group of cars acts as a rolling bottleneck, and everyone with an optimal speed greater than 55 plus tolerance margin (for argument's sake, let's say 75 > optimal speed >= 65) will attempt to pass them. However, this starts a rolling wave in the left lane because the faster drivers must slow down and wait for the intermediate speed driver(s) to pass. The rolling wave creates a sharp increase in traffic density in the left lane, which limits the ability of drivers in the right lane to change lanes. Consequently, the train of slow cars in the right lane increases in length, thus it takes longer and longer for said intermediate speed drivers to cross the bottleneck and get back in the right lane. And so on and so forth.

6. I learned this technique from my cousin - lots of people do it around Los Angeles.

Yeah, Los Angeles - that's where I'm from.

7. I mentioned this in another thread (too lazy to look for it). but I would "erase" the "wave" from construction.

frankly, if you were surprised by this, then you are the cause of traffic problems. (sorry raven). its like the old saying, everyone works with a weird person. if you don't, then its you.

8. I wasn't surprised by this working, I was impressed to see others (as in other than myself) making an effort to stop such stupidity.
I have tried leaving larger gaps as he mentions, but that never works where I live (Northern New Jersey).
People just swerve around you, jump in front of and do other stupid things that risk traffic accidents.
I do it on a smaller scale, and I always leave plenty of room in front of me.

I've also been known to be a bit more beligerent and aggressive - my girlfriend calls me a vigilante.
For example, if there is nasty traffic and I spot some asshole who thinks (s)he is too special or his/her business is more important than everyone else's, coming up the shoulder lane, I will pull halfway out into the shoulder and force them to get behind me.
It usually works, if I can act in time (and they aren't going too fast).
I get some nasty looks, but they generally stay behind me once I get back into the lane (I think they assume I'm a cop).
Or they pull up along the other side of me and give me the finger.
Either way I accomplish what I set out to do.

Also, with the zipper (one car at a time merge), I will always block people and force them to wait their turn, if I can.

One of these days I'm going to be shot.
The sad thing about that, is that they will probably report that I was acting out of road rage.

9. This gets rid of jams, but does it actually speed traffic up?

10. I use that technique most days. It calms you down and feels like a challenge.
Probably more economical, too.

I can be very aggressive, too. If somebody is being an arsehole or doing something dodgy, I'll do my very best to cut them up or hold them up. There's a very annoying bit of road on the way to uni every day - where the M8 and the M80 merge, westbound into Glasgow.

Every decent person pulls into the huge queue of traffic as soon as they can, whilst others keep going in the empty lanes and look for gaps to shoot into further up. If they time it right they can save about 4 minutes and make up half a mile. It always stresses me out, but I do everything in my power to keep those bastards out of my lane. I get extremely pissed off at people in front of me who let people in.

Trucks that force their way into your lane, or taxis that try to make my blood boil. I refused at some roadworks last week. The outside lane was closing and signs had been pretty clear for about 800yds saying that. The bastard got closer and closer. Our wingmirrors would have been touching if I slowed or he sped up. I was about 2 inches off the kerb and I think he knocked a couple of cones down on his side. Held the horn down and gave him the finger.

/rant

Driving stresses me out, if you hadn't noticed.

Nice experiments though

11. Originally Posted by spidergoat
What in interesting subject. I do this too, when in a traffic jam I try to maintain a constant pace rather than start and stop.
It's a great idea, principle, but it ain't worth a shit if no one else abides by the same rules. If you try to maintain a distance from the guy in front of you, and people keep cutting into the space, you're fucked! You'll either have to stop or you'll run right over them.

Like most idealistic plans .....they don't work in reality.

Baron Max

12. Originally Posted by Baron Max
It's a great idea, principle, but it ain't worth a shit if no one else abides by the same rules. If you try to maintain a distance from the guy in front of you, and people keep cutting into the space, you're fucked! You'll either have to stop or you'll run right over them.

Like most idealistic plans .....they don't work in reality.

Baron Max
Legally, you have a better case if you get rear ended than if you ram the idiot who cut you off.

13. Originally Posted by CANGAS
Legally, you have a better case if you get rear ended than if you ram the idiot who cut you off.
What, exactly, does that have to do with the topic??

Baron Max

14. This gets rid of jams, but does it actually speed traffic up?
good point. I was going to bring that up, but was short of time. often (in my experience) traffic lights are used to clump up traffic so that people on side streets can get out, instead of sitting there for 5 minutes waiting for a break in traffic. I think the ideal way to drive in urban/suburban areas is to stay with the group of cars. however, on expressways, waves of stoppage due to a accident or construction should be "erased."

15. Originally Posted by Baron Max
What, exactly, does that have to do with the topic??

Baron Max
For the understandingly challenged: if I am trying to maintain a legal and functional, within the parameter of the thread, distance between the vehicle ahead of me, and nutjob Baron Max slams into my rear bumper, it is much easier to convince a jury that nutjob Baron Max failed to avoid following me too close than for me to be in the wrong.

Do you also have trouble with "1+1=2"?

16. Baron is the type who tailgates. Which isn't surprising, given his personality.

There are those of the type of Baron Max who cut people off in front, but that happens only occasionally, and not enough to

1) Close the gap; people merge out and the overall volume of the freeway does not change, given equilibrium of cars; nor to
2) Slow you down significantly. It's true that you do go slightly slower on average - but very slightly so because of the fact stated above (conservation of volume). In general opinion, if performed right, you save more gas and you waste very little time, no matter if the traffic speeds up again or maintains a sluggish pace.

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