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Thread: Fix traffic jams yourself

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon

    Fix traffic jams yourself

    Short version leave a reasonably large gap in front of you so people can merge in and try to drive at a constant pace (leaving the gap makes that easier to do).

    Pretty interesting explanation and examples:

    Some more links on the theories.

    The better solution of course is to move where there is no traffic. Its pretty bad here if there are 5 cars before I can make a turn on my commute to work - man! look at all that traffic.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Many of the drivers here in Albuquerque infuriate me because they are apparently incapable of dealing with a zipper merge. They don't understand the fact that letting another car in front of them will speed things up for everyone. And if you signal that you're changing lanes here, the car you're pulling in front of will most likely try to close the gap to prevent you from moving over. I spent enough time driving in LA to have gotten pretty fearless when it comes to moving into a space that I've signaled I'm taking. More than one ABQ driver has had to hit their brakes hard because I ignored their attempt to close the gap.

    And don't get me started on self-appointed traffic regulators who refuse to move out of the left lane just because they are driving the speed limit. Or the people who have their cruise control set at 71 mph and spend 5 miles passing an 18-wheeler doing 70 mph.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    S E Washington State
    Got to say I agree 100%. I don't live where there is a whole lot of traffic, but I visit Portland, Ore. often, so I experience it. I always leave a big gap between me an the person ahead, but I do it as a defensive driving technique. Give me more room to react. I have noticed what this gentleman is talking about. It would sure cut down on a lot of unnecessary fender benders. Good video.
    "We the People ......"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    I have always thought that motorways should be designed with fundamentally different approach. Kirchhoff laws state that the sum of the currents flowing to a point should equal the sum of the currents flowing from that point.

    I was impressed when i first came across an on ramp in California that had a traffic light on the on ramp theoretically preventing people from entering the highway if the light was red thus controlling the number of vehicles getting onto the highway.

    Where i came from it always amused me that there was unrestricted access to onramps yet just about every offramp had a traffic light at the end of it. When the lights went red, they not only stopped flow off the highway they caused backup and congestion across the entire flow of traffic. Dumping an offramp into a downtown district as happens so often is a recipe for disaster. Yet happens universally.

    I dont have a clue what Caltrans was using to determine when it should be red or green but a move like this that would be incorporated in a total highway management system would make for better highway flow.

    Add that to what has been proven to work on the M25 ring road around London where they have large overhead gantries that have variable speed limit signs where the speed limit is altered to suit the conditions of the traffic in the "pipe" up ahead and essentially slow down the oncoming wave to alleviate congestion and events in dense areas could be very different. They also supplement this with active variable messaging signs providing drivers with transit times and information about how long an alternative route would take.

    On the M25 on the exit side of the gantry they have red light cameras and should you be travelling in excess of the front facing speed limit sign at the time you are ticket for speeding automatically. Only takes a few before you become compliant but in actual fact what makes you end up being compliant is really the fundamental improvement in your journey time and flow of traffic due to the effect the closed loop control has on the traffic and the excellent information the message boards provide about how long it will take to get to various off ramps along the way.
    Thats not to say they dont have snafus but when you consider the volume of traffic it handles they minimal compared to what it used to be like in prior times with even less traffic on the highway there.

    They also learnt as did many other traffic management authorities around the world, from Atlanta in 1996 when they hosted the Olympics and seriously significant dollars were put into a sophisticated traffic management center, that leaving an accident on the highway to be managed by the first police presence on the ground is a big mistake and that having a central traffic management center with fantastic live feeds showing entire highway but no communication between police on the ground and the central traffic management center is of no use. They watched in dismay at the time as the officer on the ground caused a bigger snafu by his actions than was taking place prior to his arrival.

    So on the M25 today due to sophisticated algorithms developed not only by the crown but also the US Fed Dept of Highways, they can predict an accident in the making simply based on real time traffic patterns at a point in time, the result is they actually insert a crash squad into the flow at this time in order to be on the scene and clear the jam under the control of the traffic management center asap.
    There are times and circumstances where clearing the jam simply means leaving it in place and setting up clear indication of the need to bypass until the flow eases to enable moving the wreckage out the way.

    Of course all this takes money to implement but it can provide an alternative to just continuously widening the road.

    I personally dont think enough has been done in the use of HOV as a strategy as well as the use of moving center lane Jersey barriers to alter road configuration to suit flow of traffic. Easier said than done in some places traffic density is just way in excess of any tangible or affordable solution.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    So the gist I got was to drive 5 miles under the speed limit all the time and no one will slow you down. Here in the midwest, not many folks use the zipper effect. When a lane ends, ten zillion folks get over 3 miles prior and that lane that ends is open for most of that. Most do have gaps in front of them, but mostly as they are looking at their cell phones, not that they are allowing folks in.

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Wright View Post
    So the gist I got was to drive 5 miles under the speed limit all the time and no one will slow you down.
    I juuust might be occasionally guilty of that

    The more interesting effect was that by "speed smoothing" he was able to dampen the traffic waves both in front and behind him. basically the difference between vrroom and slam on the brakes driving with a somewhat more civilized approach

    Rob: the california onramp lights are mixed. The main problem is that a lot of them are to close to the merge point so people have difficulty getting up so speed to merge and that ends up causing the same sort of "brake waves" that cause traffic to grind to a halt. Ironically if everyone wasn't doing 50 over there then they likely wouldn't have the problem either and the onramp metering would work as expected

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