Here’s another helpful infographic for all to ponder. Ever been hightailing it on the freeway when all of a sudden brake lights start lighting up like the Griswold house around Christmastime and you wonder why in the heck everyone has decided to slow down? It’s called a shockwave by traffic planners and it affects just about everyone at some point in time.

It starts off when one driver takes a bit too long to get into their lane or when something in the road catches their eye and they slow down to see if they should swerve or run over it. That minor change in one driver’s pattern begins a ripple effect that affects everyone behind them. All of a sudden, that driver is going 5mph slower than they were, making the person behind them slow down by 10mph to keep a safe driving distance. The more cars involved in this effect, the slower they have to drive to adjust to the change in flow. By the time everyone reaches the point where the original driver slowed down just a bit, there is no evidence as to why the change occurred and angry drivers chaulk it up to rubbernecking or bad driving.

It’s comparable to water flowing through a funnel. A slow drip flows smoothly down and exits freely; add a sudden rush of water and that funnel is now filling up and spilling over. Just something to think about next time you’re out on the freeway and are convinced some idiot just ruined your day.

Check back with us to find more interesting tidbits as part of our Car Infographics series.


Source: BuzzFeed

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  (453) posted on 06.29.2011

Well, that’s really a good reason why you should always familiarize yourself with alternative routes for your destinations. That way, you will be able to avoid these bottlenecks when they happen.

  (379) posted on 06.16.2011

For me, this one is perfect for national roads or free highways. These are the roads where most of the cars in. Its a good strategy because as I see it, this really works for all.

  (592) posted on 05.27.2011

But that one is actually easier said than done. If you think of it, there are actually a lot of things that we need to consider when trying to control traffic.

  (427) posted on 05.26.2011

Well, let’s face it, this one clearly shows how inefficient our current traffic system really is. Maybe in the future, they will be able to come up with something that will make traffic flow more smoothly.

  (1211) posted on 05.26.2011

However, I think that this one won’t easily be solved by simply putting in speed limits, since there will always something that could cause this one.

  (619) posted on 05.25.2011

Yeah, you’re right. Indeed that’s the reason why there are minimum speed limits on the freeways. But let’s face it, this sort of thing would still happen from time to time.

  (412) posted on 05.25.2011

Indeed, this one is probably one of the most irritating things to happen when driving in the freeway. And what’s even more irritating is when you find out that there is actually no need to slow down.

  (142) posted on 05.24.2011

This opened my eyes. This is why people shouldn’t drive like turtles on the highway and have some compassion for the ones behind them. If speed is maintained at least at the speed limit then there would probably be less pollution and less accidents.

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