Earlier this week we talked about the fact that going too slow on the left lane and changing lanes is more dangerous than speeding. Now we have another hot driving topic to discuss with you – traffic.

Most of you probably know how traffic patterns work and what causes the traffic jams. But what’s the fundamental problem of traffic on intersections? On green light, the first car accelerates, and then the next, and then the next… you get the idea. If all cars accelerate simultaneously, more vehicless will pass on green light than normal. Or, in other words, coordination, not number of cars is the problem. Yes, it’s that simple.

How autonomous cars can make traffic obsolete

As the attached short video shows, more intersections equals to more discoordination, which equals to more traffic. And that’s why big cities have more big roads with no intersections – merges yes, but no intersections and stopping.

But why we get into traffic jams on highways, too? It’s because of the so-called “accordion effect” – a car slows down, because a chicken crosses the road, for example, and then the car behind that slows down too, which makes all vehicles behind do the same. Some even call it the “traffic snake” that eats the oncoming cars at one end and poops them out of the other.

Generally speaking, to prevent this phenomenon, our goal as drivers is to stay the same distance from the car ahead as from the car behind at all time – no tailgating, always in the middle. Why? This gives us enough time to prevent overbraking, but also gives the driver behind enough time as well.

But here comes another problem – human reaction. We are generally slow in our reactions, we do mistakes, and waste time on the road. The solution of all these problems could be autonomous cars. They have better communication than we have and faster reactions. The more self-driving cars at an intersection, the more efficient the intersection gets.

How autonomous cars can make traffic obsolete

The guys from CGP Grey even say that if we ban humans from the road, we can get rid of the intersections entirely. Well, we’ll have to wait at least a couple of decades to see if it works.

Source: CGP Grey

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