Why Freeways Come to a Stop (Infographic)

It happens to most drivers a few times a year. You’re sailing along on the freeway when you’re forced to come to a stop, or at least a crawl. You can’t see why things are slowing around the bend – and when you get there, traffic is moving better.

Traffic planners call this a “shockwave.”

Here’s how it happens:

  1. Traffic is rolling along at 60 mph when someone slows to 50 mph. In this example, the driver in Car B does so to avoid hitting Car A, whose driver swerves at the last second to exit.
  2. The next driver slows to 45 mph to maintain a safe distance from cars A and B.
  3. Drivers farther back see the brake lights and begin slowing down.
  4. The pattern continues, and more drivers apply their brakes until traffic comes to a crawl. By the time the rear of the jam catches up to where the shockwave began, the offending parties are long gone and there is no sign of what caused the problem.

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The moral of the story – pay attention and get into the exit lane well ahead of time. Those who wait until the last moment can cause slowdowns and even accidents.

(via Infographicsworld)

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