To prevent a traffic jam, just let everyone cut in front of you. Yes?
If drivers can effortlessly change lanes, then they have no need to slow down. Consequently, no one behind them has to hit the brakes:
As you will also see in this video from Seattle engineer/jam expert, William Beaty, the key is to maintain a steady speed and leave a large space between you and the car in front. If you keep moving then everyone else behind you can too:
Congestion Problems and Solutions
Moving from each of us to all of us, we should also look at congestion as a municipal responsibility. Since the Great Recession ended, we not only have had an economic recovery but also a traffic congestion recovery:
But it does depend on where you live:
And how local authorities manage traffic:
They could create HOV (high occupancy vehicles) lanes and HOT (high-occupancy toll) lane that are HOV. Or, ETLs (express toll lanes) that use variable pricing sensors that charge drivers for using faster moving lanes are a possibility. The details also can make a difference like managing traffic signal timing, expediting crash removal, and establishing incentives that nudge employers to vary the beginning of the work day.
Interestingly, new roads are not necessarily the answer because the extra supply attracts more drivers. One study concluded that in 10 years you wind up back where you started. Furthermore, those extra lanes cost dollars that could have been used elsewhere–maybe $10-$15 million a mile.
Our Bottom Line: Externalities
From lost sleep to late arrivals, aggravation and a missed breakfast, the externalities created by a traffic jam are endless. And they could all be created by one tailgater who stopped cars from switching lanes.
My sources and more: Perfect for more data than you could ever want about congestion, the “Urban Mobility Scorecard” for 2015 is a dream. Then, complementing the scorecard, WSJ focuses on how one person can make a difference. Please note that parts of traffic congestion solutions were previously published in a past econlife.