The Kid Should See This

Why, Traffic, Why?

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Traffic during rush hour or when an accident has happened on the road ahead are both expected, but there are a lot of avoidable reasons for traffic in cities all over the globe: Slowing down to see something on the side of the road, messy merging, and challenges within a city’s infrastructure. From Vox in 2016:

“If there are enough cars on a highway, any minor disruptions to the flow of traffic can cause a self-reinforcing chain reaction: one car brakes slightly, and the ones behind it brake just a bit more to avoid hitting it, with the braking eventually amplifying until it produces a wave of stopped or slowed traffic.”

the start of a traffic wave

“‘These traffic waves arise from small perturbations in a uniform traffic flow, like a bump in the road, or a driver braking after a moment of inattention,’ says Benjamin Seibold, a mathematician at Temple University who’s worked with colleagues on understanding the phenomenon.

“Even when cars leave this traffic wave, though, the wave itself doesn’t disappear: it gradually drifts backward, against the direction of traffic. “It’s typically 100 to 1000 meters long, and it usually begins with vehicles running into a sudden increase in density at the start, and a drop in velocity,’ Seibold says. ‘Then, after that, they slowly accelerate again.'”

Media company ATTN and motion graphics studio Down the Street created this sponsored video to help spread the word about what causes traffic and how we might mitigate it: Why, Traffic, Why?

signal issues
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