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Old 06-19-2007, 08:19 PM   #1
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Traffic flow

I found this the other day and found it very interesting. I wish that they would teach this in Drivers ED or have repeated PSA about it.

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Old 06-19-2007, 09:32 PM   #2
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AMEN to that info. I've read that site before. now only if we could impregnate that info into the young minds of the current/future drivers. then it would only take about 60 years for traffic jams to be a thing of the past. Assuming the drivers that are currently set in their ways die off by that time, lol.


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Old 06-19-2007, 10:04 PM   #3
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This happens on where the 241 (toll) merges with the 91 east since there's an extra lane for ~14-1/2 mile so the 241 people can merge easily. The problem is, we also get people from the 91 jumping into that lane to leapfrog everyone else, and when they don't merge smoothly the entire freeway slows down. Even though there was a minimal change in the number of cars.
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I think if i could get that type of FE i would have no problem driving a dildo shaped car.
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Old 06-19-2007, 10:24 PM   #4
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zpiloto -

I think as a GasSaver, this is where slow freeway traffic can get good FE. I have heard that so long as the average speed of freeway traffic is about 35 MPH, then the freeway beats the streets, and I believe it. Also, if you are below 40 MPH, your engine doesn't have to fight aerodynamic friction.

While I haven't gotten my best FE in traffic jams, if the traffic is just fast enough for me to stay above the lug zone (above 20 MPH on the flat), then I can still get really good MPG.

I think DRW has had this experience, where driving slow and steady in bad traffic has boosted his FE.

I wonder what the Urban Transportation/Planners have to say about this?

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Old 06-20-2007, 02:10 AM   #5
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There are at least two factors that "real driving" has compared to the laws of physics: 1) Car Insurance and fear of premium hikes 2) Law Enforcement and fear of getting a ticket.

In the law of physics known as the "Bernoulli's Principle" that states "if the cross-sectional area of flow is reduced, then the speed of the fluid moving through the flow is increased and pressure decreases." It's the fundamental principle of how an airplane wing works to create lift because the air on top of the wing is moving faster than the air below the wing creating a relative lower pressure on top of the wing compared to the relatively higher pressure below the wing. What does aerodynamics have to do with traffic flows? I'll explain.

Let's say you've got a two lane highway, one lane coming and one lane going. Let's assume there's two cars going exactly at 65 mph and separated by enough space between them to not hit each other, yet not enough space for anyone to merge between them. Now, let's say the two lane highway becomes a four lane highway, two lanes coming, and two lanes going. Based on the Bernoulli's Principle, since the number of lanes increased, the speed of the fluid, or in this case two cars, should reduce. So let's say car #1 merges to the left to go to lane #1 and car #2 stays in lane #2. Let's also say they both slow down to 55 mph.

Now, later on, the four lane highway turns back to a two lane highway. So according to Bernoulli's Principle, both cars currently going at 55 mph should speed up to 65 mph. So car #1 in lane #1 accelerates from 55 mph to 65 mph. Car #2 in lane #2 also accelerates from 55 mph to 65 mph. Now car #1 and car #2 are neck and neck. Then, the transition from four lane to two lane occurs. Now, regardless of right of way rules, this is how "real driving" is different from the Bernoulli's Principle in that air molecules belongs to their streamline. However, cars are supposed to stay in lanes. So going back to this situation, since the cars are neck and neck, one car needs to decide to slow down since exceeding the speed limit may "attract" law enforcement. So let's say car #2 decides to slow down to let car #1 maintain 65 mph and lets car #1 merge right from the old lane #1 to the new lane #1. The driver of car #2 from a behavior standpoint decided to slow down not only to be "nice" but to avoid a car accident which would pretty much be guaranteed to be the driver of car #2's fault. The car accident would result in higher car insurance premiums, so it's in the driver of car #2's best interest to avoid the car accident. However, due to car #2 slowing down, bingo, contributes to the slowdown of the traffic flow behind it. So a traffic jam is starting to be formed because in real life, there's hardly only two cars driving on the highways like this example. The overall fear of the penalty of an accident has also created the oxymoronic phrase "fast lane" during "rush hour."

Now, the best thing to maintain an overall same flow rate through lane constrictions, such as four lane highway becoming a two lane highway, in accordance with the Bernoulli's Principle, is to let the cars accelerate and speed up during the traffic constriction section of the highway. Once cleared of the traffic constriction section of the highway, then the cars should reduce speed back down to 65 mph or whatever the speed limit is. However, this is where the behavior of "fear of law enforcement to get a speeding ticket" contradicts Bernoulli's Principle. Sometimes, the traffic flow constrictions are due to: 1) accident cleanup or 2) construction. In the case of construction, not only is there a speed limit, but sometimes there's an even further reduced speed limit during construction zones. That further restriction of speed limit during traffic constriction further contradicts the requirement of the Bernoulli's Principle that the fluid, in this case traffic flow, is required to INCREASE in order to maintain a steady flow before, during, and after the flow restriction. But once again, the penalty of not only obeying the non-construction speed limit is relatively lower than the penalty of not obeying the construction zone reduced speed limit further aggravates the overall violation of Bernoulli's Principle to help maintain an overall smooth traffic flow.

As far as the "problem" of traffic light induced "waves," sounds a bit too simplistic for me. The author is talking about basically driving straight and only straight. Not about waiting at the STOP arrow/light to turn left and if you execute a right turn quickly enough, then his story seems to jive. The problem/solution seems to assume that there's only traffic lights involved and NO stop signs. So theoretically, even with infinite "antitraffic buffer" he's gonna have to come to a complete stop at some point. A complete stop means that at some point, you're gonna stop the traffic flow of those behind you so how do these techniques help them? What if you're the one who's stuck now?

Although I have to agree with some of his points. When I'm stuck in an extreme traffic jam situation, I merge over to the right, then just keep rolling on basic idle power. A lot of space opens up in front of me because the car in front of me was in a rush to get to push the brake pedal again. So I'd see the same behavior of the car in front of "go, then stop, go, then stop." Well, since I'm the one behind the car, it's quite annoying to do go, then stop driving for miles. I'd rather be actually moving for as long a distance as I can before pushing the brake pedal again. Since I prefer that, I'm imagining that all the cars behind me would appreciate my help in reducing their brake system costs like more frequent replacement of brake pads. So I just happily roll along at idle power. Then as the frequency of the go, then stop behavior of the car in front of me goes down, then that's when I nudge the RPMs a little higher than idle power by about 100~200 RPM. In the end, I feel that not only am I conserving my own brake pads but the brake pads of those behind me so I feel good about what I do.

So in summary, the insurance and legal system conflicts with the requirements of the law of physics known as the Bernoulli's Principle in order to achieve and maintain a consistant traffic flow on the highways. Since there's 50 states in the United States, there are 50 ways to earn your driver's license and therefore 50 ways of driver's education that needs to be changed to accomodate the instruction and testing of the knowledge of "traffic waves", "antitraffic", and other terms used in that link.


You asked "I wonder what the Urban Transportation/Planners have to say about this?" Remember that things like Urban Transportation/Planners work for the local government. Remember that local government adds a sales tax on top of federal taxes to gasoline sales. Remember that taxes is the main method of revenues for the local government. So by conserving their budget resources by NOT fixing the highway traffic jam problem, your car's fuel economy goes from highway FE to basically City FE or worse leads to more frequent trips to a gas station and pay the federal and local sales tax on gas. So from a "business decision" basis, by government not spending money to fix the highway traffic jam problem, it increases their tax collection income and makes them happier. It's good to know that there's websites like GasSavers that may be a more effective education program for drivers than expecting the government to start teaching and testing on "antitraffic" and other materials.

I hope I made sense and hoping I helped.
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:08 AM   #6
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The problem with getting people to avoid creating these sort of traffic jam waves is that the majority of drivers hardly look past the vehicle directly ahead of them. That and the mentality to not have other people get one over on them by cutting in propagates these silly things.

One of my favorite ones that happens within 1/4 mile of my house every morning is nearly 100% caused by this sillyness. There is a merge lane that is over 1/4 mile in length, but if traffic is moving slowly, people are routinely trying to wedge out into traffic at the earliest moment. If they oppened their eyes however toward the end of the merge lane, they would see that traffic is actually moving smoothly and be able to seemlessly blend in. When merging there, I watch them impatiently do their thing, then slowly advance up to the point where other drivers don't even have to adjust thier distance and I rarely have to touch the brakes.

The company I work for teaches The Smith Driving System. And while it is not the most exciting technique to get around town, it turns out it is one of the most efficient and stress free, teaching people to look well ahead and think about what's going to happen long before they get there. Most of the time it's also just as quick.

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Old 01-02-2009, 04:05 PM   #7
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i revived another one. this is not just for fun however, it is VERY interesting IMO. think of the fuel savings.

i know! i'm dreaming, it will never happen.
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Old 01-02-2009, 05:19 PM   #8
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Let it be done, then:

Anyway, I stumbled across that long before I ever got into the idea of saving gas. I've never been able to do it; I think it's a combination of my lack of patience and the type of traffic I get into not usually being such waves.
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Old 01-02-2009, 06:04 PM   #9
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ive noticed this before, i think ive done it once or twice without knowing it, when traffic i see is getting backed up on the interstate i slow way down way in advance so i dont get rearended. sometimes traffic will be creeping by the tim ei gte there.

now his virtual rolling blocks with the adjustable speedlimits wont work. heck all thw echicago interstates are already at 55mph. if you go that ur gonna get run over! slowerones are going 60-65 most are around 65-70
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Old 01-02-2009, 06:43 PM   #10
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IV read that too, and always try to do it. But I live in the burbs, where SUVs and mini-vans are the rule. People always competing for the top spot. Its of course worse in evening rush-hour traffic. I've had some get mad at me for a few mph. I sometimes find my self wanting to compete as well. My old driving habits want to kick in. Then I look at my SGII, and a i get a little clarity, and ease up, and get my but back in the slow lane.

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