Motorists spend six months of their lives in traffic jams

April 2nd, 2010 - 4:44 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Apr 2 (ANI): An average motorist spends six months of his or her life in traffic jams, a new UK study has found.

The research, which was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), claimed that many of the traffic jams are “phantom” bottlenecks which appear for no apparent reason and then disperse, reports The Telegraph.

Now, through his study, Eddie Wilson of Bristol University reckons that he has solved the riddle of stop-go waves of traffic.

It takes one road user to get to close to the car in front and hit the brakes. The driver behind does the same thing, as do hundreds of motorists in succession, and within few minutes there’s a ripple which can stretch miles.

“The stop-and-go waves are generated by very small events at the level of individual vehicles,” said Dr Wilson.

“It can just be bad lane changing, which increases to such an extent that the impact is much bigger than the original event which caused it.

“In certain situations a tipping point is reached that magnifies small effects to create large changes that can involve hundreds of vehicles and which may be a couple of miles long.

“We’ve seen individual phantom jams that have travelled over 50 miles down the motorway — and on Bank Holiday Fridays, the entire M6 from Birmingham to the Lake District is often stop-go the whole way,” he added.

The expert has developed what he calls “string stability analysis”, in order to devise a computer model to explain why traffic suddenly builds up and then dissipates just as quickly. (ANI)

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