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Science has spoken: We are creating needless traffic jams

(File, Associated Press)

Research shows that there is a right way to drive, and a wrong way to drive. Guess which way most of us choose that results in traffic jams.

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One of the worst rush-hour driving habits is that everybody wants to go as fast as they can until they have to mash the brake. That forces the tailgating driver behind to overreact, creating a chain reaction of overreaction, bringing everyone to a dead stop – even though nothing’s physically blocking the freeway.

So, Professor Gabor Orosz at the University of Michigan ran an experiment where he positioned a single self-driving car in a line of human-driven cars. The self-driving car was equipped to receive speed data from the six cars ahead of it so that it would automatically slow down before getting too close to the car in front so that it could brake more gently without ever coming to a stop.

The professor found that having just that one well-behaved car in the mix prevented the traffic from bunching up, and everyone kept moving.

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Well, it occurs to me that we humans can also typically see several cars ahead – if we actually pay attention. So, what if we all decided to proactively slow down instead of mashing the brake and causing needless traffic jams?

Science has spoken, and it’s telling us that the only way to handle a bad guy with a car is a good guy with a car.

Thank you, Science.

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