Shockwave traffic: It could be why you're just sitting in traffic

Shockwaves explainer

 Have you ever sat in traffic and then, suddenly, the congestion lessens.... but there was no crash or construction, so what happened?  There is a theory about the "Shockwave Traffic Jam".  Which at its most basic says that when a driver hits the brakes (from merging or distracted driving) the driver behind him hits the brakes too and so on, which grows into a traffic jam.

This theory has been recreated by having cars drive in a circle at the same speed and equal distance apart.  When one hits the brakes though, the car behind him slows and congestion begins. In time, there is a traffic jam for no specific reason (like a crash or construction). 

That is a a very simplistic explanation behind the theory of the "Shockwave Traffic Jam" and something for you to think on the next time you are in traffic!

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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