Stuck in a jam? The science behind traffic

?  So a recent story in the Washington Post about the science of traffic piqued my interest.  It turns out (of course!) there’s an entire field of study around alleviating traffic problems that spans city planning, human behavior and health topics.

There are mathematical models that explain why traffic slows for seemingly no reason at all.  (It turns out these traffic jams are self-sustaining waves, similar to the detonation waves produced by explosions.

Another study has found that it’s actually the rate of merging that contributions to slow-downs on freeways, instead of the capacity of the road.

While there’s much evidence on the causes of traffic congestion, research has pointed to proven solution to solve the problem. But it’s good to know that scientists are working on it.

On a related note, there  is plenty of evidence available on the topic of preventing traffic accidents that lead to injury or death. The Cochrane Collaboration has put together a list of systematic review on various methods to reduce injuries and deaths caused by cars and trucks.  Among them:

Solving issues related to traffic congestion and accidents is just another area where it pays to consult the research.


  1. Very interesting, I have always wondered if there are anyone thinking about the traffic issues we are facing. It looks like there are people working, to make our lives better.

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