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A Traffic Jam For No Reason At All A Traffic Jam For No Reason At All

A Traffic Jam For No Reason At All

by Andrew Price
June 19, 2008
Researchers from the Japanese "Mathematical Society of traffic flow" have shown how a traffic jam can develop for no apparent reason. They had 22 drivers circle a track and asked them all to keep a constant speed of 30 kph. Small fluctuations in people's speeds caused little disruptions that snowballed into full-fledged jams. The traffic jams propagate around the track like a wave through a spring.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Suugn-p5C1M[/youtube] We wonder how many day-to-day traffic slowdowns are due to this phenomenon, as opposed to a real capacity problem on streets.
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