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(Washington Post)   The weird science behind traffic jams to the left. Perfect drivers telling the rest of us we are idiots to the right   (washingtonpost.com) divider line 157
    More: Interesting, optical illusions  
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11491 clicks; posted to Main » on 28 Sep 2013 at 8:40 PM (29 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-09-28 07:40:04 PM
Japanese physicists discovered this when they had people try to drive around in steady speeds on a circular road. Jams materialized out of nowhere. People braked erratically and started responding uncertainly to people ahead of them.

Compression waves. Get enough cars in one place and they begin to behave like gaseous particles.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-09-28 07:59:16 PM
Whenever a road shrinks from two lanes to one, it would actually be most efficient for everyone to stay in their lane right until the point where the lanes converge and then execute a "zipper merge."

We do zipper merges at permanent lane drops around here. In temporary construction zones we do the "merge early and mess up traffic" thing instead.

Do they know how to do zipper merges in Denver? I got honked at by the guy behind me who thought he had right of way. Not sure if he should be taken off the road or everybody in Denver should be taken off the road. I'm fairly sure everybody on I-25 north of Denver should be taken off the road.
 
2013-09-28 08:13:08 PM
- We're all basically idiots when it comes to merging.

As a New Yorker, I'd just like to say Fark You, you Farking Fark!

There is no more beautiful automotive ballet than watching 5 lanes merge into 2 going into The Lincoln Tunnel leaving Manhattan at 5:00 on a Friday afternoon.

Try that in Los Angeles and traffic would be backed up until Tuesday.
 
2013-09-28 08:15:07 PM
i.imgur.com
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-09-28 08:17:06 PM
Eddie Adams from Torrance: There is no more beautiful automotive ballet than watching 5 lanes merge into 2 going into The Lincoln Tunnel leaving Manhattan at 5:00 on a Friday afternoon.

I did that merge on December 24 one year, which counts as an honorary Friday. I remember my sister opening the passenger window to scream "Merry Christmas!" at the driver next to us who cut us off.

I think that was the last time I was on a city street in Manhattan.  I hope that was the last time I was on a city street in Manhattan.
 
2013-09-28 08:37:26 PM

ZAZ: I did that merge on December 24 one year


Oh no... do not attempt on holidays. Too many non-commuters.

You were lucky to get to NJ alive.

/Well, not exactly "lucky", after all, you were still in NJ
 
2013-09-28 08:38:45 PM

ZAZ: I think that was the last time I was on a city street in Manhattan. I hope that was the last time I was on a city street in Manhattan.


I drove to NYC and into Manhattan for the first time about 8 months ago. The last time, too. Taking the train (from DC) from now on.
 
2013-09-28 08:40:39 PM
Most people are hesitant to try to execute a zipper merge because most of the time you have jackasses in the lane who won't let anyone over because they have been waiting longer than the faster lane, so they feel like the other lane is "cheating" for not getting over earlier, slowing everyone down overall.
 
2013-09-28 08:41:47 PM
The key to not being an idiot driver is really quite simple

/get the f*ck out of my way
 
2013-09-28 08:46:09 PM
You're idiots.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-09-28 08:47:53 PM
Eddie Adams from Torrance: You were lucky to get to NJ alive.
/Well, not exactly "lucky", after all, you were still in NJ


The pond by the Turnpike was a lovely festive shade of green, that late December day. I'm not sure if it was glowing.
 
2013-09-28 08:49:49 PM
Driving can be a frustrating experience.  I signal my lane changes and turns.  I don't do anything crazy.  From my heart and from my hands why don't people understand my intentions?
 
2013-09-28 08:52:37 PM
Until the majority of drivers can respect that the passing lane is meant for passing, and that momentum is of critical importance (staying fast when road is clear, maintaining distance and pacing with congestion), the roads will always be a tremendous clusterfark.

The politics of road design don't help. Speed is treated as the ultimate road evil, and the flow of traffic is destroyed by laws and speed limits designed to boost revenue (speed traps, etc.) I'd agree to laws in favor of the replacement of all stop signs and smaller road light intersections with roundabouts. That would be a step in the right direction.

The most potent road danger out there is distracted drivers, whether through intoxication, ignorance, or blatant recklessness...not speeds and road engineering which promote traffic efficiency.
 
2013-09-28 08:54:25 PM
Whenever a road shrinks from two lanes to one, it would actually be most efficient for everyone to stay in their lane right until the point where the lanes converge and then execute a zipper merge

EXACTLY. People who get over early screw everything up, because they sit in a huge traffic jam while the rest of us go to the merge point - by then they have no interest in alternating traffic, so we have to squeeze in where we can.
 
2013-09-28 08:55:06 PM
It would seem to me that the best way to force a proper zipper merge would be to not close one side, but force both sides to merge to the middle.  That way, the idiots who want to merge early won't be able to pick a lane too soon.  Once you get the cars in the middle of the road, you can direct them to the appropriate lane.
 
2013-09-28 08:56:40 PM
i.qkme.me
 
2013-09-28 08:57:13 PM

DarkVader: It would seem to me that the best way to force a proper zipper merge would be to not close one side, but force both sides to merge to the middle.  That way, the idiots who want to merge early won't be able to pick a lane too soon.  Once you get the cars in the middle of the road, you can direct them to the appropriate lane.


i40.tinypic.com
 
2013-09-28 08:58:41 PM

fusillade762: Japanese physicists discovered this when they had people try to drive around in steady speeds on a circular road. Jams materialized out of nowhere. People braked erratically and started responding uncertainly to people ahead of them.

Compression waves. Get enough cars in one place and they begin to behave like gaseous particles.


You can model a one lane road as a function of time and position pretty well using simple PDEs. I did it in my PDE course in college. The cars, as a group, behave like slinkys.
 
2013-09-28 08:59:20 PM

Eddie Adams from Torrance: Try that in Los Angeles and traffic would be backed up until Tuesday.


Traffic is usually backed up until Tuesday in LA.
 
2013-09-28 08:59:22 PM

blacksharpiemarker: Until the majority of drivers can respect that the passing lane is meant for passing, and that momentum is of critical importance (staying fast when road is clear, maintaining distance and pacing with congestion), the roads will always be a tremendous clusterfark.

The politics of road design don't help. Speed is treated as the ultimate road evil, and the flow of traffic is destroyed by laws and speed limits designed to boost revenue (speed traps, etc.) I'd agree to laws in favor of the replacement of all stop signs and smaller road light intersections with roundabouts. That would be a step in the right direction.

The most potent road danger out there is distracted drivers, whether through intoxication, ignorance, or blatant recklessness...not speeds and road engineering which promote traffic efficiency.


THIS
 
2013-09-28 09:00:13 PM

t3knomanser: [i.imgur.com image 816x460]


We have a similar bridge situation here in Portland:

blog.oregonlive.com

Inevitably everyone on the right wants to exit left and everyone on the left wants to go right.

/probably going to be on that later tonight
 
2013-09-28 09:00:26 PM

DarkVader: It would seem to me that the best way to force a proper zipper merge would be to not close one side, but force both sides to merge to the middle.  That way, the idiots who want to merge early won't be able to pick a lane too soon.  Once you get the cars in the middle of the road, you can direct them to the appropriate lane.


That's... a fantastic idea, actually.
 
2013-09-28 09:00:38 PM
How to be a good driver:

Actual technical skills: 2%
Predicting what the drivers around you are going to do: 18%
Driving in a way that the people around you can easily predict what you're going to do: 80%
 
2013-09-28 09:00:59 PM
blacksharpiemarker:

The politics of road design don't help. Speed is treated as the ultimate road evil, and the flow of traffic is destroyed by laws and speed limits designed to boost revenue (speed traps, etc.) I'd agree to laws in favor of the replacement of all stop signs and smaller road light intersections with roundabouts. That would be a step in the right direction.


The residents of the little town I live in have been fighting against roundabouts for some unknown reason. I love em. Keeps the car moving, saves gas, saves brakes, and is quicker and safer.

Cotati/Rohnert Park, Ca. They love speedbumps and cops and hate roundabouts.
 
2013-09-28 09:01:53 PM
images.amazon.com
 
2013-09-28 09:03:34 PM

fusillade762: t3knomanser: [i.imgur.com image 816x460]

We have a similar bridge situation here in Portland:

[blog.oregonlive.com image 685x1024]

Inevitably everyone on the right wants to exit left and everyone on the left wants to go right.

/probably going to be on that later tonight


You think that's bad?  The DC suburbs have a wonderful little clusterfark known as "The Springfield Interchange."
www.vivatysons.com

Can't find a more recent picture.  There are now "express lanes" in that mess, too.
 
2013-09-28 09:03:37 PM

Jim_Callahan: How to be a good driver:

Actual technical skills: 2%
Predicting what the drivers around you are going to do: 18%
Driving in a way that the people around you can easily predict what you're going to do: 80%


So much this.

/average driver at best
 
2013-09-28 09:04:14 PM
The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.
 
2013-09-28 09:05:55 PM

blacksharpiemarker: Until the majority of drivers can respect that the passing lane is meant for passing, and that momentum is of critical importance (staying fast when road is clear, maintaining distance and pacing with congestion), the roads will always be a tremendous clusterfark.

The politics of road design don't help. Speed is treated as the ultimate road evil, and the flow of traffic is destroyed by laws and speed limits designed to boost revenue (speed traps, etc.) I'd agree to laws in favor of the replacement of all stop signs and smaller road light intersections with roundabouts. That would be a step in the right direction.

The most potent road danger out there is distracted drivers, whether through intoxication, ignorance, or blatant recklessness...not speeds and road engineering which promote traffic efficiency.


I agree 100% with everything in your post.
You only missed out on all drivers are idjits.

If you've ever tried them and got comfortable with them, roundabouts are great.
Distracted drivers will be distracted in their car with something, anything. It does NOT have to be a phone.

Faster speeds, and I'm talking making higher speeds legal, actually clear up the passing lane and help traffic flow. Otherwise you have people going the legal speed on all lanes and then any kind of 'event' will slow all the lanes down. Even if 6 lane highways.
Compare that to where speeds are higher so people stick to the right hand lanes, less dispersion, so traffic flows.
 
2013-09-28 09:06:50 PM

Rhino_man: DarkVader: It would seem to me that the best way to force a proper zipper merge would be to not close one side, but force both sides to merge to the middle.  That way, the idiots who want to merge early won't be able to pick a lane too soon.  Once you get the cars in the middle of the road, you can direct them to the appropriate lane.

That's... a fantastic idea, actually.


Horrible idea.

imagine 2 outside lanes trying to merge into the middle lane at the same time.  Talk about a lack of situational awareness. "that car wasn't there 2 seconds ago"
 
2013-09-28 09:07:03 PM

JasonOfOrillia: Driving can be a frustrating experience.  I signal my lane changes and turns.  I don't do anything crazy.  From my heart and from my hands why don't people understand my intentions?


Many do. And they want to punish you for them.
 
2013-09-28 09:08:01 PM

mrlewish: Rhino_man: DarkVader: It would seem to me that the best way to force a proper zipper merge would be to not close one side, but force both sides to merge to the middle.  That way, the idiots who want to merge early won't be able to pick a lane too soon.  Once you get the cars in the middle of the road, you can direct them to the appropriate lane.

That's... a fantastic idea, actually.

Horrible idea.

imagine 2 outside lanes trying to merge into the middle lane at the same time.  Talk about a lack of situational awareness. "that car wasn't there 2 seconds ago"


That's different.  You're imagining three lanes.  This is a 2-lane merge.  The same number of cars as normal, merging into the same amount of space as normal, but without the incentive for people to "do the right thing" and merge early.
 
2013-09-28 09:09:11 PM

Rhino_man: fusillade762: t3knomanser: [i.imgur.com image 816x460]

We have a similar bridge situation here in Portland:

[blog.oregonlive.com image 685x1024]

Inevitably everyone on the right wants to exit left and everyone on the left wants to go right.

/probably going to be on that later tonight

You think that's bad?  The DC suburbs have a wonderful little clusterfark known as "The Springfield Interchange."
[www.vivatysons.com image 570x284]

Can't find a more recent picture.  There are now "express lanes" in that mess, too.


I used to drive through that every day, it wasn't confusing at all.
 
2013-09-28 09:10:26 PM

Rhino_man: Can't find a more recent picture. There are now "express lanes" in that mess, too.


It's referred to as "The Mixing Bowl" and that picture does include the express lane entrance/exit ramps. I negotiate it regularly.
 
2013-09-28 09:11:36 PM
Cue the "zipper merge" moron brigade!
 
2013-09-28 09:20:37 PM

CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.


Except that it does work... if people wouldn't fark it up with their "he's not gonna cut in front of me!!!" mentality and deliberately logjam the zipper by refusing to let people over. That's the point.

It would appear that you're one of the people who has a religious belief in the importance of "getting over early."

Do you also coast along for miles and miles in the passing lane, married to the car beside you, and shake your fist at all the people who (in a shocking turn of events) wind up tailgating you?
 
2013-09-28 09:21:24 PM

CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.


Shhh. The people who drool over the zipper merge like to ignore something that will never happen: that all drivers behave the same way.
 
2013-09-28 09:21:41 PM

Rhino_man: That's different.  You're imagining three lanes.  This is a 2-lane merge.  The same number of cars as normal, merging into the same amount of space as normal, but without the incentive for people to "do the right thing" and merge early.


There are a number of these around my town (where they just pull the division line and merge the lanes before the actual narrowing).  They produce about eight to ten major wrecks with traffic stoppage a year, and every road that has them comes to a complete stop twice daily.

So... no.
 
2013-09-28 09:22:36 PM

technicolor-misfit: CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.

Except that it does work... if people wouldn't fark it up with their "he's not gonna cut in front of me!!!" mentality and deliberately logjam the zipper by refusing to let people over. That's the point.

It would appear that you're one of the people who has a religious belief in the importance of "getting over early."

Do you also coast along for miles and miles in the passing lane, married to the car beside you, and shake your fist at all the people who (in a shocking turn of events) wind up tailgating you?


See. IT DOES WORK IF. I mean, it doesn't work. But it would work. If.
 
2013-09-28 09:26:40 PM

kwame: technicolor-misfit: CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.

Except that it does work... if people wouldn't fark it up with their "he's not gonna cut in front of me!!!" mentality and deliberately logjam the zipper by refusing to let people over. That's the point.

It would appear that you're one of the people who has a religious belief in the importance of "getting over early."

Do you also coast along for miles and miles in the passing lane, married to the car beside you, and shake your fist at all the people who (in a shocking turn of events) wind up tailgating you?

See. IT DOES WORK IF. I mean, it doesn't work. But it would work. If.



The implication is that the maneuver doesn't work... The maneuver does work. It's the people who are too stupid and selfish to cooperate with others that are dysfunctional.

This is like morons on amazon giving an item one star because they can't figure out how the fark to use it.
 
2013-09-28 09:29:05 PM

technicolor-misfit: CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.

Except that it does work... if people wouldn't fark it up with their "he's not gonna cut in front of me!!!" mentality and deliberately logjam the zipper by refusing to let people over. That's the point.

It would appear that you're one of the people who has a religious belief in the importance of "getting over early."

Do you also coast along for miles and miles in the passing lane, married to the car beside you, and shake your fist at all the people who (in a shocking turn of events) wind up tailgating you?


You're another person who confuses "zipper merging" when two lanes merge into one, versus a merge to exit when traffic is backed up.

One lane exiting, line up to exit, do not drive down the open lane (where traffic is continuing straight, and not exiting) and push in at the front.  Also, do not leave the line of traffic drive to the front of the line, and push in.  Neither of these help the situation at all.

Zipper merging, and it's benefits you tout ONLY WORK WHEN TWO LANES ARE MERGING INTO ONE.  Even then it is debatable but whatever.
 
2013-09-28 09:29:22 PM

Jim_Callahan: Driving in a way that the people around you can easily predict what you're going to do: 80%


A-farking-men. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Don't try to be polite, be predictable. Yielding when you have the right of way just confuses everyone, and makes things less safe when people get confused as to what everybody else is trying to do.
 
2013-09-28 09:32:20 PM

t3knomanser: [i.imgur.com image 816x460]


But yet these are the same people who are deathly afraid of the tunnels.

Not sure how they manage both.
 
2013-09-28 09:33:00 PM
In a nutshell, People don't know how to drive!  A license gives you the right to drive not the skills to drive!
 
2013-09-28 09:33:18 PM

technicolor-misfit: kwame: technicolor-misfit: CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.

Except that it does work... if people wouldn't fark it up with their "he's not gonna cut in front of me!!!" mentality and deliberately logjam the zipper by refusing to let people over. That's the point.

It would appear that you're one of the people who has a religious belief in the importance of "getting over early."

Do you also coast along for miles and miles in the passing lane, married to the car beside you, and shake your fist at all the people who (in a shocking turn of events) wind up tailgating you?

See. IT DOES WORK IF. I mean, it doesn't work. But it would work. If.


The implication is that the maneuver doesn't work... The maneuver does work. It's the people who are too stupid and selfish to cooperate with others that are dysfunctional.

This is like morons on amazon giving an item one star because they can't figure out how the fark to use it.


In order to say it works, you need proof. Let's look for some. How about a giant flashing sign that says "merge now." Oh, people don't always do that? Then it doesn't work.
 
2013-09-28 09:35:55 PM

blacksharpiemarker: Until the majority of drivers can respect that the passing lane is meant for passing, and that momentum is of critical importance (staying fast when road is clear, maintaining distance and pacing with congestion), the roads will always be a tremendous clusterfark.

The politics of road design don't help. Speed is treated as the ultimate road evil, and the flow of traffic is destroyed by laws and speed limits designed to boost revenue (speed traps, etc.) I'd agree to laws in favor of the replacement of all stop signs and smaller road light intersections with roundabouts. That would be a step in the right direction.

The most potent road danger out there is distracted drivers, whether through intoxication, ignorance, or blatant recklessness...not speeds and road engineering which promote traffic efficiency.


I've considered how a "crowdsourced" speed limit might work. You already see variable speed limit signs in some construction areas. What's to prevent that from being combined with radar and implemented on open highways? Consider, the average speed of cars traveling in a given area would be measured over, say a 5 or 10 minute rolling interval, then anyone traveling 10mph over or under that speed could be ticketed. That way, if drivers "agreed" that 80mph was a safe speed to travel, then the speed limit would become that.

With the rapidly arriving robotic cars, I'm not sure this would be worth the expense, but it's definitely something to consider.

 
2013-09-28 09:37:30 PM

technicolor-misfit: kwame: technicolor-misfit: CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.

Except that it does work... if people wouldn't fark it up with their "he's not gonna cut in front of me!!!" mentality and deliberately logjam the zipper by refusing to let people over. That's the point.

It would appear that you're one of the people who has a religious belief in the importance of "getting over early."

Do you also coast along for miles and miles in the passing lane, married to the car beside you, and shake your fist at all the people who (in a shocking turn of events) wind up tailgating you?

See. IT DOES WORK IF. I mean, it doesn't work. But it would work. If.


The implication is that the maneuver doesn't work... The maneuver does work. It's the people who are too stupid and selfish to cooperate with others that are dysfunctional.

This is like morons on amazon giving an item one star because they can't figure out how the fark to use it.



It's just like economic theory!  The maneuver works if everyone behaves perfectly rationally with perfect information and if we ignore human nature.

/what are you a bloody tank commander?
 
2013-09-28 09:38:23 PM

tripleseven: technicolor-misfit: CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.

Except that it does work... if people wouldn't fark it up with their "he's not gonna cut in front of me!!!" mentality and deliberately logjam the zipper by refusing to let people over. That's the point.

It would appear that you're one of the people who has a religious belief in the importance of "getting over early."

Do you also coast along for miles and miles in the passing lane, married to the car beside you, and shake your fist at all the people who (in a shocking turn of events) wind up tailgating you?

You're another person who confuses "zipper merging" when two lanes merge into one, versus a merge to exit when traffic is backed up.

One lane exiting, line up to exit, do not drive down the open lane (where traffic is continuing straight, and not exiting) and push in at the front.  Also, do not leave the line of traffic drive to the front of the line, and push in.  Neither of these help the situation at all.

Zipper merging, and it's benefits you tout ONLY WORK WHEN TWO LANES ARE MERGING INTO ONE.  Even then it is debatable but whatever.



But, that's not what was being discussed...


CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.



This is exactly why the article says things would work better with self-driving automated cars. Robots don't turn it into a moral issue and get all bent out of shape at the idea that "someone jumped the line" and get all hellbent on making sure they can't merge in.
 
2013-09-28 09:42:01 PM

kwame: technicolor-misfit: kwame: technicolor-misfit: CipollinaFan: The zipper merge does not really work in rush hour where there is a 10-1 ratio of the cars trying to get on the highway to cars trying to get off of it.
Mergeing early when there is room does not fark with traffic nearly as bad as 20 cars trying to merge at the same spot when their lane ends.

Except that it does work... if people wouldn't fark it up with their "he's not gonna cut in front of me!!!" mentality and deliberately logjam the zipper by refusing to let people over. That's the point.

It would appear that you're one of the people who has a religious belief in the importance of "getting over early."

Do you also coast along for miles and miles in the passing lane, married to the car beside you, and shake your fist at all the people who (in a shocking turn of events) wind up tailgating you?

See. IT DOES WORK IF. I mean, it doesn't work. But it would work. If.


The implication is that the maneuver doesn't work... The maneuver does work. It's the people who are too stupid and selfish to cooperate with others that are dysfunctional.

This is like morons on amazon giving an item one star because they can't figure out how the fark to use it.

In order to say it works, you need proof. Let's look for some. How about a giant flashing sign that says "merge now." Oh, people don't always do that? Then it doesn't work.



That's the farking point...


FTASelf-driving cars steered by robots could do a lot to reduce traffic jams.


It's not the maneuver that doesn't work. It's the people.

biatching about how the maneuver doesn't work is like some old bastard biatching about "stupid computers!!!"

It's not an issue with the maneuver. It's user error.
 
2013-09-28 09:42:41 PM

fusillade762: Japanese physicists discovered this when they had people try to drive around in steady speeds on a circular road. Jams materialized out of nowhere. People braked erratically and started responding uncertainly to people ahead of them.

Compression waves. Get enough cars in one place and they begin to behave like gaseous particles.


This is where places like LA do the most stupid thing. To join their freeways they have lots of slip roads that are very short and have traffic lights that make you stop and only let one car at a time go. So by the time you have accelerated from stop to reach the traffic you are doing forty tops and the lane, if traffic is moving, is doing seventy. Of course you can't merge! You're going so slow that they have to break to let you in and that causes a compression wave as everyone behind them brakes. In the UK most junctions are roundabouts, where you're moving quickly, and the slip roads are long so you are easily doing seventy by the time you reach the traffic, which is also doing seventy. Easy.
 
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