Monday, August 6, 2012

Phantom traffic jams - why you shouldn't use your brakes

Both in my blog and on my site I've long complained about the inappropriate use of car controls - people driving with a foot on the brake, unnecessary braking, lack of use of indicators etc. And for the longest time I've known about phantom traffic jams - where traffic comes to a stop for (seemingly) no reason. I've written about this elsewhere on my site but it's never for no reason - it's because of someone being inattentive, or not understanding that taking your foot off the accelerator causes your car to slow down without using the brakes. The explanation is simple, but I recently came across the youtube video below that demonstrates it perfectly. One person - just one - uses their brakes, and that's all it takes to turn a smooth-flowing road into a jammed-up nightmare. The person behind the initiator has to brake, and they do so just a little harder than the person in front. That effect ripples backwards through the traffic until finally, someone ends up coming to a complete stop, and from there, the phantom traffic jam appears. The M25 around London is a classic example of this, and the idiotic variable speed limits they put don't help traffic flow, they hinder it because now people have a proper reason to brake - speed cameras - and the rest is self-explanatory. Enjoy the video and think about it next time you're on the motorway. Can you moderate your distance simply by paying more attention and taking your foot off the accelerator instead of knee-jerk reacting and hitting the brake? (I know they can't do this here in Utah :-) )

Also : the competition is still running to win a BlueDriver wireless OBD2 scanner.Win a BlueDriver