Why Freeway Traffic Occurs [Infographic]

It happens to most drivers a few times a year. You’re sailing along on the freeway when you’re forced to come to a stop, or at least a crawl. You can’t see why things are slowing around the bend – and when you get there, traffic is moving better.

Traffic planners call this a “shockwave.”

Here’s how it happens:

  1. Traffic is rolling along at 60 mph when someone slows to 50 mph. In this example, the driver in Car B does so to avoid hitting Car A, whose driver swerves at the last second to exit.
  2. The next driver slows to 45 mph to maintain a safe distance from cars A and B.
  3. Drivers farther back see the brake lights and begin slowing down.
  4. The pattern continues, and more drivers apply their brakes until traffic comes to a crawl. By the time the rear of the jam catches up to where the shockwave began, the offending parties are long gone and there is no sign of what caused the problem.

(via Infographicsworld)

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About Jeff Cryder Jr.