Friday, December 21, 2007

And Here I Was Thinking That Green Hills Gridlock Was Due to Too Much Traffic and Too Little Road

According to the mathematicians, traffic jams can be reduced a single driver braking too hard. Sounds like an elegant "butterfly effect" theory, but does any Nashville driver who has ever been locked in Hillsboro Road traffic really believe that one person's braking habits brought everyone else to a standstill?

I could understand driving habits being one factor among several, but this mathematical model just sounds like an excuse to maintain the status quo on road upgrades and traffic control. And if we're going to attribute personal responsibility, let me suggest that single drivers who might otherwise be able to carpool are a larger cause of traffic jams than braking habits are.


  1. oh, I believe it. That is what stops up I-24 all the time...a couple of slower drivers who hit their brakes constantly, which causes a chain reaction for a half a mile back. The big problem on the interstates here is that there is no flow to the traffic. You have some people who drive 10 mph below the speed limit (many times in the left lane) and then those who drive like bats out of hell. It's ridiculous.

  2. While your points are good ones, I concur with the study findings (though I lack the chops to prove it). I'll take it a step further: an alert driver will simply let off the accelerator, rather than even touch the brake pedal, in many scenarios. The resulting lack of brake lights shining to the rear will avert even more standstills.