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Rude Drivers Reduce Traffic Jams

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the earning-that-one-finger-salute dept.

Transportation 882

BuzzSkyline writes "Traffic jams are minimized if a significant fraction of drivers break the rules by doing things like passing on the wrong side or changing lanes too close to an intersection. The insight comes from a cellular automata study published this month in the journal Physical Review E. In effect, people who disregard the rules help to break up the groups that form as rule-followers clump together. The risk of jamming is lower if all people obey the rules than if they all disobey them, according to the analysis, but jamming risk is lowest when about 40 percent of people drive like jerks."

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882 comments

and yet NYC still has traffic jams (3, Interesting)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867471)

especially on the Belt Parkway where people seem to slow down to 30mph to go over a bridge

Re:and yet NYC still has traffic jams (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867559)

At least 30mph is moving. Have you ever driven near/in/around Washington DC?

Re:and yet NYC still has traffic jams (1)

KneelBeforeZod (1527235) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867687)

Hmmmmm, interesting point. So how would you scientifically calculate the asshole "saturation point" when their effectiveness plateaus off?

Re:and yet NYC still has traffic jams (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28868027)

The saturation point is a random variable unfortunately because the first "jerk" that causes or gets into a crash was one too many as that stops traffic completely. Unfortunately this could be the 1st jerk, the 10th jerk, or the 100th jerk. No way to tell in advance.

Re:and yet NYC still has traffic jams (4, Funny)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867849)

especially on the Belt Parkway where people seem to slow down to 30mph to go over a bridge

The rule only applies if SOME people break the rules, not every one of you hot-dog-eating-bastards.

Re:and yet NYC still has traffic jams (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867857)

Ditto on the D.C. beltway. I don't understand people who slowdown for bridges or curves. It's not going to kill you to take the curve at 65mph. That's why the sign says 65 - because it was designed for high-speed travel. (duh)

By slowing-down you impede the flow of traffic and create a chain of cars behind you. Show some consideration. (sigh). This is why I leave home at 5 a.m. Most of the idiots don't come-out until after 6:30. Leaving early helps me to beat them.

Aside-

Another cure for traffic jams is to make our highways 20-lanes wide (like in Asimov's novels). I guarantee that a nice, wide, open stretch of macadam won't jam up if you have that many lanes to serve the cars.

Yet another cure is to simply let your office workers stay at home. Do I really need to drive two hours a day to sit inside a Baltimore office and type code all day? I can do the exact-same work at home.

Re:and yet NYC still has traffic jams (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867989)

Another cure for traffic jams is to make our highways 20-lanes wide (like in Asimov's novels).

Two words, separated by a hyphen: rubber-neckers.

They are the cause of almost all traffic jams.

(I live in Sterling, couldn't fathom driving into or out of DC every day. I'd do what you do and leave at 5. My neighbor does that as well.)

Re: Assertive driving (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868083)

Welcome to Mexico City, where people offer "assertive driving" seminars and workshops

40%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867487)

So I guess if 100% drive like jerks it's even worse? This is a strange study. I'm not sure how you're gonna convince those 60% to not drive like jerks!

Re:40%? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867769)

That's what I'd like to know. This seems like one of those no duh studies where we discover that breaking the rules that everybody else is supposed to follow comes with benefits. What's next a study where we find out that pretending to be a war hero can get people chicks? Or how lying about how you conduct business gets you bailout dollars?

Re:40%? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867851)

No, the interesting thing is that the people breaking the rules make the entire situation better for everyone else, too; not just for themselves.

Re:40%? (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867961)

And this has always been obvious to me. "But officer, by resisting being stuck in the idiot parade, I'm doing my part to help everyone reach their destinations just a bit sooner!"

Re:40%? (3, Insightful)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867991)

While they make the situation better for everybody, the people breaking the rules benefit the most. This is sort of like the "tragedy of the commons," with a twist. In the tragedy of the commons, the people who don't break the rules don't derive any benefit. In this situation, they're at least a little bit better off than if nobody broke the rules. Everybody has an incentive to try to be in that 40%, though. (Some people, like me, follow the rules dogmatically and altruistically.) I guess what's called for is some sort of automagic lottery system by which 40% of drivers in high-traffic situations are notified in real-time that they are being encouraged to drive more aggressively. AI researchers, get on that.

Re:40%? (1)

bensode (203634) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867881)

I find that traffic jams and more accidents are caused by the chain reaction of events because of the assholes that do things like passing on the wrong side or changing lanes too close to an intersection. Add in the dolts that are texting, shaving, putting on makeup, etc and it's even worse. I-83 from PA to Baltimore blows ...

Re:40%? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867945)

If someone is passing on the wrong side, then someone else already being rude and breaking the rules by refusing to yield the passing lane.

atlanta (1)

tresstatus (260408) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867497)

apparently this study didn't take atlanta into consideration..... everyone there drives like jerks.

Re:atlanta (1)

Tono_Fyr (1280182) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867603)

Driving in Atlanta tends to be rather horrifying. WAY worse than Orlando.

Re:atlanta (3, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867609)

Funny. When I have driven there, I thought that ppl were actually pretty nice, though fast.
In fact, I normally speed at about 9 over, but was being passed all over in Atlanta.

Another nice place was Seattle, but they tend to be slow.

Denver Colorado has some horribly rude drivers (esp. Highlands Ranch), but these are the types that cause jams. They like to drive in left lane AND go slow. I do a lot of passing on the right because ppl here are so bad. Likewise, they like to jam up. I do my utmost to get pass idiots like that and be in the open where I do not have to worry about bad drivers. Drivers here will actually try to prevent you from passing them and will flip you off if you do. We have far too many Texans and Easterners.

Re:atlanta (2, Interesting)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868125)

You've pegged Atlanta. Here, people tend to be somewhat nice drivers. (As opposed to, for example, New York City, where they are horrible mean.) But very, very fast on the highways.

And, for some totally inexplicably reason, the Downtown Connector has a frickin speed limit of 55, so people are constantly going about 20 over, or about 10 over what it should be. (The greatest stunt ever [youtube.com] .)

For those of you who don't know what the Connector is, that's where I-75 and I-85, the main north-south roads, merge into one giant superroad. 16 lanes of traffic in some places, 300,000+ cars a day.

All going 80 miles an hour. Down a road that doesn't have a medium, or a shoulder half the time. (The road essentially goes underneath the city streets, straight through both Downtown and Midtown, with walls down the side and buildings on top of them looming over the road.)

OTOH, people will, in fact, let you into traffic on the surface streets, and not attempt to wedge their car up your ass or cut you off.

Re:atlanta (2, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867817)

I think they did.

The risk of jamming is lower if all people obey the rules than if they all disobey them, according to the analysis, but jamming risk is lowest when about 40 percent of people drive like jerks.

Re:atlanta (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867987)

OK, so how do we determine the 40% who should drive like jerks? Sell special "jerk driving licenses?"

Re:atlanta (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867931)

It did, and said the best percentage of jerks is 40. 100% of people being jerks causes jams too.

your welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867517)

That's why you always hear the little motor in my '06 Civic Coupe revving it's little brains out.

I'm just clearing the log-jam people. Move along...

Surprise! (1, Insightful)

unifyingtheory (1357069) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867525)

Drivers breaking the rules to get out of traffic jams reduces the number of cars in traffic jams.

In other news... passengers jumping out of airplanes leaves more room for other passengers.

Massholes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867529)

How do you explain the traffic jams in Mass? its about 89% massholes, and 10% jerks, 1 percent follow the rules. (probably due to outstanding warrents)

Doing their part to reduce traffic! (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867545)

Of course rude drivers ease congestion. When they kill someone because of their stupidity, not only will that person not drive again, but they'll probably lose their license, so they won't either!

Re:Doing their part to reduce traffic! (5, Insightful)

Calithulu (1487963) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867627)

No kidding. I have to wonder if they bothered to look at the number of accidents caused when someone did something stupid. TFA doesn't mention accidents at all.

Re:Doing their part to reduce traffic! (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867673)

Actually until they cause an accident then they cause even more congestion.

  I used to see that all the time on 69 in Detroit. get jammed up, idiots start driving the shoulder and cause an accident, now we are jammed up further.

I love the morons on the motorcycles lane splitting and then getting creamed.

Re:Doing their part to reduce traffic! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867841)

And don't forget that the shoulders are supposed to be available for emergency workers should there be a serious accident. The emergency crews can use the shoulder to get to the problem and possibly to move some of the stuck cars to get at the problem point if need be.

Filling the shoulder with people driving or worse having an accident causes so many problems.

Re:Doing their part to reduce traffic! (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868105)

If you're talking about I-69, that's up around Flint and Lansing, and then down toward Fort Wayne. I assume you meant I-96, which is it's own disaster. I tend to find the people on I-69 are the idiots who either drive 5 mph under the speed limit in the left lane, or drive until they are next to someone else and then drive at the same speed as that person for extended periods. Both of which don't help the free flow of traffic. Fortunately, because of the death of Flint and Lansing, the traffic tends to be pretty light.

Re:Doing their part to reduce traffic! (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867837)

By the way, "rude drivers" != drivers who don't obey the law. The law usually doesn't take into account abnormal driving conditions, such as in heavy rush-hour traffic or when there's an accident. As a simple example, the minimum speed on an interstate might be 40 MPH. If someone is driving slower due to heavy rain, they're not being rude, they're being safe. Likewise, someone who is driving 55 MPH in heavy traffic volume during rush hour might be technically following the law, but being extremely dangerous.

I've had a few instances where I would be, for example, in a left turn lane and an emergency vehicle would come up behind me. They had no way to get through the intersection with me and other cars lined up waiting for a light to change. I would make sure that cars coming from the other directions were stopped and run the light to get out of the way. Does that make me "rude"? Does it make a difference that during and/or after running the light, I would pull somewhere to allow the emergency vehicle to safely get past me? I don't think so.

But yeah, in general, stupid people only thinking, "How can I get there quicker" cause a lot more traffic grief than they solve. One thing the study probably neglects is that around 90% of traffic problems (yes, I made that number up based on observation; that would probably make a good study) are caused by these people having accidents and doing stupid stuff like blocking intersections and such.

let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867549)

One guys who made the study live in OC and drive a monster truck?

Police Siren (1)

VnutZ (1314783) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867553)

Soooo ... if I'm blasting people that clump traffic with an airhorn, am I just part of the jerk population that's helping traffic flow or just a jerk?

Re:Police Siren (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867679)

You're probably helping irritate another jerk who then commits the actual jerk driving that leads to the congestion reduction.

Re:Police Siren (4, Funny)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867725)

That depends on the loudness of your horn. If it displaces enough air to actually move the cars forward, you might be a helpful jerk.

So does this mean (1)

Lunoria (1496339) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867569)

that we all have to take turns driving like jerks? Some of us aren't slowing down for anybody.

Correlation != causation (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867573)

The problem of cars "clumping" is due to the "rule abiding" drivers following each other too closely. This is in fact not rule abiding.

A reasonable space must be left between each car to provide enough extra slack to handle unexpected events like braking and slowing. When people follow too closely, this slack is all but eliminated thus causing each unexpected event's effect to become magnified. A quick tap of the brakes causes a chain reaction resulting in a traffic jam. Leaving enough space to handle an unexpected event provides each driver extra time to react.

In addition, since the additional slack allows for longer reaction times, a faster average speed can be achieved. Bob Dobbs would be so proud.

Re:Correlation != causation (0, Redundant)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867661)

The problem of cars "clumping" is due to the "rule abiding" drivers following each other too closely. This is in fact not rule abiding.

If they're "following too close", then they aren't "rule abiding." You can't have it both ways.

Re:Correlation != causation (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867707)

If they're "following too close", then they aren't "rule abiding." You can't have it both ways.

That's why I "use" quotation "marks" to emphasize the incongruity of "the" words I'm quoting.

Re:Correlation != causation (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867845)

So you're intentionally trying to confuse the discussion?

Re:Correlation != causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28868001)

Quotation marks are hard.

Re:Correlation != causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28868025)

I doubt it, since what he wrote made perfect sense to anyone with "half a brain".

Re:Correlation != causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867877)

Did you misread OP's first paragraph and skip the rest of his post? His use of scare quotes signified (and it looks like you agree) that the "rule-abiding" drivers were not truly abiding by the rules, and he expands on this at relative length.

Re:Correlation != causation (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867709)

The problem of cars "clumping" is due to the "rule abiding" drivers following each other too closely. This is in fact not rule abiding.

And in fact that behavior is largely caused by the people who break the rules as defined by this study. So, the 40% who break the rules to make traffic flow better cause the other people to drive in such a manner so as to make the traffic problem worse in such a way as that behavior by the 40% fixes.

Re:Correlation != causation (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868049)

The problem of cars "clumping" is due to the "rule abiding" drivers following each other too closely. This is in fact not rule abiding.

I didn't see anywhere in the study that said the rule abiding drivers were following too closely. Given that the simulation had most following the rules, I'd say that they were in fact NOT following too close... but because they all drive similarly they are "grouped" together. You can see this after a light... if everyone more or less accelerates at the same rate and then goes the same speed, they all tend to stay clumped together. If one person is following the rules but going lower than the posted limit, other CAN be following in a group without following too closely.

Re:Correlation != causation (1)

IsoRashi (556454) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868061)

Further, the study was designed to simulate people walking and had built-in pauses where entities would stop (to tie a shoelace or talk or whatever). How often do you see that sort of behavior on the highway?

Re:Correlation != causation (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868079)

That whole "don't follow so close" thing works great, until you have a significant amount of merging going on. When merges occur drivers either need to slow down to maintain distance or start driving closer (or, oftentimes both...). It'd be nice if our roads actually allowed us to drive like that. Certainly in DC they don't, maybe other places arn't as bad.

Riiiight. (0)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867595)

Except for the part where people who don't follow the rules (Follow to closely, cross entire lanes of traffic to catch an exit, drive excessively fast (90+) cause accidents thus resulting in traffic.

Or what about people who fail to get over when a sign says "Right lane ends 1/4 mile" Rather than get over now so traffic can move along smoothly (Because if you notice, once the lane ends, things pick up) they wait till the last damn second and hold everyone else up. Yeah sure that may not be against the law, but it still increases traffic (And road rage for that matter)

Re:Riiiight. (4, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867799)

Well, in Germany it would be against the law to change early. It has been shown that driving till the end, and then merging as "one from the left lane, one from the right lane" is the most efficient way to handle ending lanes. Therefore the law demands that. It's called "Reissverschlussverfahren" ("zipper procedure").

Re:Riiiight. (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868095)

This is what I noticed in the U.S. as well. People would line up very early on a lane merge, to the point where there is an entire empty lane for one mile which could have been used for traffic movement.

Re:Riiiight. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28868133)

Of course the Germans would have a law for this, and a word to no less.
Damn I wish I lived in Germany... :-)

Not Rude in My Book! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867613)

"Breaking the rules" is not rude behavior on the road, as far as I'm concerned. Most of the problems on our highways are caused by people driving 'below' the rules. Some examples are failing to accelerate to highway speed on the onramp, driving in the 'passing' lane when you aren't passing anyone, and my personal least favorite, not being ready to go when the light turns green at a crowded rush hour intersection. If no-one made these key mistakes our highways would probably be able to accomodate 20% more traffic without any physical upgrades in capacity. yet somehow, I'm the bad guy for flashing my lights at some jerk driving 55 right next to someone else going 55 when there are 15 cars stacked up behind him!

Re:Not Rude in My Book! (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867745)

Oh, You must like in Colorado. You just described MANY of the drivers here. The one that you missed is when they drive fast to get to the front of the line AND THEN slow down to the same speed.

I really think that all states should require (and ENFORCE) that the left lane be used ONLY for passing. When I was growing up Wisc did that and enforced it and it made driving enjoyable. OTH, Illinois did not and they allways had issues.

Re:Not Rude in My Book! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28868071)

I forgot another less common, but still frustrating habit. For some reason, on two lane mountain roads (one lane each direction) the people who drive slowly 99% of the time suddently speed up to 65 when they reach the short stretch with a 2 lane passing zone (going up a hill etc.) so that only a few of the 20 cars stacked up behin them can actually get around them. Then, as soon as the extra lane goes away, they apparently feel more constricted and slow back down again. I just want to smack these jerks up-side the head!

Re:Not Rude in My Book! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867999)

I tend to agree with you. Ultimately the problem is that there really isn't a nice or polite way to ask somebody to pay more attention to their surroundings. All methods of communication (honking, lights, waving, etc) with other drivers have a (real or perceived) negative connotation.

I think this is BS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867615)

My #1 example as to why this is BS...

I am on a 3 lane highway where the right hand lanes are merging so that there will be only 2 lanes. There are plenty of signs. So people start merging when they are told. However, some people feel the need to use the 100 feet or so remaining to gain an advantage of 3 to 4 cars in line so they speed around the right side and then merge in farther up. This causes even further delays. A merge of two lanes should work like a zipper. Its more efficient that way. Its the idiots that think that they are saving some extra time by getting that extra 3 to 4 car lengths in line, when really, they are contributing to even more congestion.

The three second rule (2, Insightful)

drdrgivemethenews (1525877) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867631)

Article also says to always obey the 3 second rule. This doesn't make sense. In heavy traffic most folks are 1/2 to one second apart. If you spread them 3 seconds apart, throughput goes down by a factor of between three and six. Too bad, the original research is impressive and spot on.

Re:The three second rule (1)

muyla (1429487) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867831)

Doesn't the 3 second rule apply only to food that was dropped on the floor? How does that help with traffic jams?

Re:The three second rule (3, Informative)

dbet (1607261) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867913)

It's not that throughput is cut down, it's that if you leave that much space, someone will move into it. In rush hour, it's IMPOSSIBLE to maintain more than a 2-3 car distance at any speed, because someone will immediately occupy a 5-8 car distance the moment it is created.

Re:The three second rule (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868011)

In the St. Louis area, asshats typically refuse to let you keep even a 2-3 car distance.

Re:The three second rule (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868097)

If you leave enough room, there's buffer space between you and the other cars. You can brake a little if you need to, and get back up to speed without affecting the car behind you. If everyone is packed together, any unexpected move you make will make the guy behind you brake, which will cause the guy behind him to brake, etc., etc..

In fact, you can prevent and even stop traffic jams by leaving enough space between you and the people in front of you. If you're in stop and go traffic, leave enough room that you can just coast instead of hitting the brakes when the guy in front of you does. Then you've broken the feedback loop described above, restored order to traffic, and saved everyone time and wear on their brakes and engine.

Surprising? (1)

ohmage (164610) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867667)

If this was the case, with most drivers being who they are, then we should never experience any traffic jams. I never understood how people you know who are intelligent, polite, and reasonable, get behind a steering wheel and suddenly become "savages"?

Finally (2, Funny)

VorpalRodent (964940) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867677)

Vindication at last! I can now provide proof to my wife that my driving style has a purpose, and that purpose is for the greater good of mankind.

Respect rules of the road, not just the official 1 (5, Insightful)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867681)

IMO, a lot of problems could be avoided if people respected all the rules of the road, and not just the official ones. For example, I respect anyone's right to drive at whatever speed they feel comfortable with. If that's at, above or below the speed limit I don't care. However, no matter how fast you're going, if there's someone behind you who wishes to go faster, move over to the right. It's not your job to set speed limits, the cops do that, and they exercise discretion too depending on the traffic and time of the day.

What gets me really frustrated is people in the left lane, going at or slightly below the speed limit, with a LONG line behind them. It's situations like these that cause problems, as people who wish to go faster try to get around the slowpokes.

In my opinion, if people simply moved over for a faster car, kept the left lane open for passing/faster traffic, then the vast majority of weaving cars and "jerks" on the highways would disappear.

It's a big peeve of mine. I drive faster than the speed limit, I'll admit it. If I'm in the wrong, the cops will pull me over. However, get out of the left lane if you're going slow and there's 10 cars tailgating behind you!

Re:Respect rules of the road, not just the officia (2, Informative)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867855)

On a related note, my other biggest pet peeve is the slow people who speed up when they see you trying to pass them so that you can't, and then slow down again.

Re:Respect rules of the road, not just the officia (5, Interesting)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868033)

I know I slow down when people tailgate me very badly (within a meter), and speed up again when they change lanes. It's a guilty pleasure.

Honestly, it's the only safe thing to me do. If I have someone driving that close behind me I'll need more time to brake if something happens up ahead, to prevent the person behind me ramming into me.

Give me space, and we'll go a nice fast speed. I'll be happy to let you pass me and will move to the right. Ride my ass and expect to go under the limit.

Re:Respect rules of the road, not just the officia (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868121)

Yes, those people find me suddenly cutting in front of them. Enought with driving in the left lane; its ALSO illegal in many states.

Re:Respect rules of the road, not just the officia (1)

sirket (60694) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867869)

This is actually a law in a lot of states. The actual wording varies from "Left lane is for passing only" to "you can be in the left lane but must not impede faster traffic" to "you can be in the left lane, but must be driving at the speed limit and should not impede faster traffic."

Re:Respect rules of the road, not just the officia (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868115)

This does not, of course, excuse the reckless driving of the "angered" guy trying to get around the slowpoke.

(but you're right, driving in the "slow lane" when "going slow[ly]" makes sense and helps mitigate people getting angry...)

On the other hand, what about the annoying guys that just whizz past you in the lane you're trying to get over into while you are trying to get OUT of the fast lane? And they sometimes get really upset, because you just moved into HIS LANE and he had to use his brakes. Ugh! Awful brakes.

Seriously. If people just ... lightened up and were in slightly less of a hurry and did not think that the road, highway, lane, etc., belonged to them... and at the same time realized that the hulk of plastic they are sitting in really doesn't protect them a whole lot in the grand scheme of things...

Compression Waves in Traffic (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867685)

The risk of jamming is lower if all people obey the rules than if they all disobey them

I beg to differ, compression waves in traffic form even when everyone obeys traffic http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2008/03/shockwave-traff.html

Once in traffic if you drive slowly avoiding the urge to speed up when a gap forms you can actually help everyone behind you have a more pleasant cruise.

40% or 40oz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867691)

I read that 40% of the people need to drive like jerks. My mind tells me to go drive like a jerk with a .40.

License plate (1)

space_jake (687452) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867695)

Excellent, now what should my novelty license plate say to convey that I am driving like an ass for everyone's benefit?

Re:License plate (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867779)

IMNASS4U

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867701)

so many assumptions.. to little time

bottom line - people that cut in line create the traffic jams

Four words (1, Insightful)

consonant (896763) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867715)

Tragedy of the commons [wikipedia.org] . Seriously, what's the deal with 'studies' like this even being done?

In any system that requires order, a certain amount of entropy is desirable. But when the factors contributing to this entropy are 'given permission' to increase, then the system breaks down into complete chaos.

Isn't that just great? Now jerkwad drivers can justify themselves quoting this study: "But I was just trying to be the 40% of helpful guys!"

Changing lanes in an intersection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867717)

.. or changing lanes too close to an intersection ..

Changing lanes in or near an intersection by itself is not against the law, at least in California, according to a CHP officer who was teaching a driver safety class that I attended (I need to take it yearly for work) - as long as the person who changes lanes does so with reasonable safety. Of course in the context of driving in traffic then it is best not to change lanes in an intersection because there is a probable chance that one will get a ticket if a cop is there to see it.

Re:Changing lanes in an intersection (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868085)

You're not supposed to change lanes within 100 feet of an intersection. There is a chance that another car accelerates into you as they attempt to clear a caution light. Or, one may turn into the lane you're changing into. This is much more likely on two-lane roads.

Tailgating (1)

juancnuno (946732) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867719)

Or people can just stop tailgating

Obvious next question is (1)

foo fighter (151863) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867721)

What do these jerks do to the incidence of accidents?

I'd rather continue to wait than significantly increase my chances of being involved in a collision.

(No, I haven't read the article yet.)

Empirical Evidence (2, Insightful)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867751)

I live in Boston, so I have empirical evidence that if 40% people drive like assholes, you still get plenty of traffic jams. Sorry, your model must be broken.

Bad review or bad study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867763)

I didn't see anything in the review about what happens when an accident occurs due to the 'rude' driver. The study was using people walking, I doubt it would apply to cars since a car bumping into another car is not likely to just generate an 'Excuse me' and off we go. One accident and your chance of traffic jam goes to 100%.

Mostly applicable to pedestrian traffic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867801)

From TFA: "Jamming in vehicular traffics has natures different from that in pedestrian traffics... This study is mainly focused on this pedestrian case."

Not "easing congestion" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867803)

From TFAbstract: "The risk for jamming at a fixed density, when starting from a disordered situation, is smaller when every agent abides by a traffic rule than when all agents ignore the rule."

Doesn't say rude drivers clear up jams, just that they reduce the risk of a jam occurring in the first place.

Additionally, the risk for jamming almost certainly increases to 1 as density goes up; whether the risk goes up more slowly with a few rude drivers in the mix won't make much difference to your average rush hour gridlock.

Rude Drivers (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867823)

The first thing that came to mind for me was, "what makes a hardware driver rude?" This is Slashdot, afterall...

Re:Rude Drivers (2, Funny)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868111)

Being Slashdot, the answer would be one that doesn't run on Linux :)

Eating asshole in traffic reduces jams (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867843)

Jamming it in your butthole, that is!

Gives me a sense of purpose.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867859)

to know that for years, I have been doing my part to reduce traffic jams. Now I cant look at those middle fingers and hear those blaring horns as affirmations of my good deeds.

Seriously Flawed Study (1)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867865)

I have a problem with making assumptions for automobile traffic based on a computer simulation that used pedestrian traffic. For one thing, pedestrians don't have speed limits. If everyone on the road drove 60 miles per hour, there would be no "traffic clumps." It's the variations in speed that cause these. Also, previous studies have shown it's the jerks who force the rule-abiders to hit their breaks unexpectedly, which causes additional clumps in the system, waves of traffic jams that can last hours after a close-call occurs.

Unrealistic model of academic interest. (3, Interesting)

pawsa (92107) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867873)

As somebody has already mentioned in the comment on PhysicsCentral, a realistic model should take into account the dependence between the probability of causing an accident resulting in a traffic jam and the driving style. I could read only the abstract. If the parameter q is the only parameter used, it is not entirely surprising that they got the results they got. In such a model, the rule-obeying drivers driving in the same direction stick together. Rule non-obedience makes the fluid more compressible. Shock waves in compressible fluids appears at higher velocities. It is surely nice their model agrees with the intuition. I would not call such a simplified model realistic, though.

Traffic Jams vs Traffic Flow (1)

Iberian (533067) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867897)

Normally I don't do this but I was curious. I RTFA and it seems that the studies were all about preventing pooling/jamming. It may be true that by creating disruptions one can reduce jamming but how does that affect the overall traffic flow. I would suspect in a perfect system each car abiding by the rules would have the greatest flow. What is hard to determine is that in the real world what would be the best.

Actually I don't think it really matters. Even if the study shows that driving 65 and leaving 5 second gaps can prevent 50% of traffic jams the social change necessary probably wouldn't happen.

Depends (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867903)

I've found this depends very much on the type of "illegal" behavior. In general, it seems to depend if the type of illegal behavior is sensible or stupid. Passing on the shoulder to make a right turn isn't rude; it's an indication that a turn lane should be present. Passing on the right, while dangerous, helps get around somebody else who was rude (and probably illegal) in parking in the passing lane. Those all make sense.

There's a lot of other behavior that is rude and doesn't help congestion. For instance, in a jam where both lanes are clogged, and you have some asshole who's constantly changing lanes because one looks faster for 10 seconds. He doesn't get anywhere, just slows everything down. Or the people who use the merge lane as a passing lane. They clog up everything by forcing the whole right lane to come to a stop to let them in when the merge ends. Or the "oh, my exit's over there!" people who wait until the last second to change lanes for their turn, invariably forcing everyone else to stop.

You can claim that certain illegal behaviors benefit traffic as a whole, but my guess is that these are a small subset of the many stupid, dangerous, rude, and illegal things that drivers do.

I hate people (5, Interesting)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#28867949)

The other day, a person was changing their tire on the shoulder of the road facing the opposite direction (was a 4-lane road, 2 lanes in each direction, separated by a 20 foot or so median) and traffic on my side of the road came to a halt. Once I made it to the front of the line of traffic, in the lane (going the opposite direction) nearest the tire-changer, a car in the lane next to me and slightly ahead of me was gawking at the scene so hard they started drifting HARD into my lane. They were completely mesmerized by someone changing a frigging tire. To the point that they weren't even conscious that they were still driving a car.

I swear I don't get it. I had to blare my horn at them to get them to get back over into their lane, and they had the temerity to flip me off! Luckily for me, I drive a large truck and was able to pull in front of them at the next light where I stopped, put on my hazards, drug them from their car and threw them into traffic. No, of course I didn't. However, it's interesting how rage-filled we people get in traffic. I am trying to get it under control, but cannot abide selfish, stupid unaware drivers. I hate them with a burning passion.

Hey, Kids: Learn To Drive Like Dad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28867955)

Then watch this driving class [youtube.com] .

Please be considerate of other drivers.

Variety is the key (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868053)

I wrote a traffic simulaton in college, and it only worked (i.e. didn't jam up) when there was a wide variety of driver behaviours - preferred separaton distance, preferred speed, and slow-down-or-change-lane factor I think were the main attributes that I used. It wasn't sophisticated enough to take laws or highway code into account, but it was just a bunch of Pascal code running on a rickety old Pr1me.

Count me as part of the 40%! (2, Funny)

dmitrybrant (1219820) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868067)

Nothing frustrates me more than incompetence on the road. I deal with it swiftly, and with great justice!

Californians and their "log jams" (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868073)

The biggest thing I've noticed since I moved out here is that Californians (the Bay Area, to be specific, I understand LA is another world) have awful lane discipline.

I wish I had a dime for everytime I've been on 101 and there are 4 cars in front of me all going 65 (the limit) with nothing in front of them. Nobody seems to understand that the passing lane is for passing. As a result, you get trapped behind these rolling roadblocks of cars going at or below the limit. This is not only more jam-prone, it's more dangerous. Don't drive side-by-side people! Leave an opening so that other people have a chance to pass, thus getting a longer following distance. Slowing down behind a rolling roadblock isn't practical either, because you have to drop well below the limit and become a hazard yourself. People will just pass you and get stuck behind the same idiots.

It's not rocket science, people: 1. Pull left. 2. Pass. 3. Get right.

This is in stark contrast to my home town: the Washington DC metro area.

On the Beltway, everybody is in a contest to pass the other guy. The thing is a f'n racetrack and it's so dangerous I think the cops are afraid to pull people over; but at least you don't get stuck behind idiots all driving side-by-side. They'd be T-boned off the highway, or some guy in a Porsch would slide between them like slalom skiiing and they'd get the message. I may have been scared a bit more often on the Beltway, but I was never as frustrated.

Rules followers cause clumps? (1)

wile_e8 (958263) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868075)

In effect, people who disregard the rules help to break up the groups that form as rule-followers clump together.

I understand that breaking the rules would clear up a clump faster than following the rules, but wouldn't this clump form at first due to someone who disregards the rules? Unless someone else can think of a more common reasons a clump might form due to rule-following instead of slow drivers in the passing lane or people slamming on the brakes to avoid someone veering through traffic.

You're welcome! (1)

lunchm3at (262427) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868087)

Just doing my small part to make the world better!

Cellular Autonima don't get into accidents. (2, Insightful)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868123)

And they don't rubber-neck. They don't break down. They don't get pulled over for speeding tickets,

I wonder.. (1)

InShadows (103008) | more than 4 years ago | (#28868131)

if I can get out of tickets using this excuse. "But officer, I was being a jerk so I wouldn't create a traffic jam. Here's the study. Read it yourself!"

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