"Jerks" Keep Traffic Flowing
Physics Central’s Buzz Blog reports on a study which shows that breaking the rules can be the best way to help keep traffic flowing. The study by Sweden’s Umea University modeled traffic composed of “normal” pedestrians and “rule breakers,” finding that when over 60 percent of traffic consists of “rule breakers” things actually move more efficiently. “The interesting finding is that if most of the people are law-abiding, and you have a certain amount of people who are breaking the rule, then you are actually getting the minimum chance of a [traffic] jam,” says one of the study’s authors. Exactly following the rules of the road can cause traffic to build up behind a single negligent driver (who hasn’t seen that happen), and often the jam is only relieved by a driver breaking the speed limit to pass. Of course, there are other studies coming out which indicate that higher speed limits lead to higher death rates, but death only hurts for a few seconds. The pain of being stuck in a jam of mindless motorists can feel like an eternity.
More by Edward Niedermeyer