Traffic jam mystery solved by mathematical model

“When you tap your brake, the traffic may come to a full stand-still several miles behind you..."

clipped from www.physorg.com

Traffic jam mystery solved by mathematicians

Car traffic
The team developed a mathematical model to show the impact of unexpected events such as a lorry pulling out of its lane on a dual carriageway. Their model revealed that slowing down below a critical speed when reacting to such an event, a driver would force the car behind to slow down further and the next car back to reduce its speed further still.
The result of this is that several miles back, cars would finally grind to a halt, with drivers oblivious to the reason for their delay. The model predicts that this is a very typical scenario on a busy highway (above 15 vehicles per km). The jam moves backwards through the traffic creating a so-called ‘backward travelling wave’, which drivers may encounter many miles upstream, several minutes after it was triggered.
The research team now plans to develop a model for cars equipped with new electronic devices, which could cut down on over-braking as a result of slow reactions.

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Traffic Jam Mystery Solved By Mathematicians
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