Currently reading: Phantom jams 'can be predicted'
Traffic jams can be predicted - and research could lead to better road designs
Autocar
News
1 min read
14 July 2010

Traffic jams can be predicted by a new formula developed by mathematicians at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The research, that predicts the occurrence of “phantom” jams, could lead to better road designs in future.

“Phantom” jams are those not caused by accidents or roadworks, but due to small disturbances in high density traffic such as a driver braking too hard.

This then becomes amplified as the cars behind react more strongly, leading to a self-sustaining jam as cars are forced to stop to avoid slowing cars in front of them.

The formula developed, based on the equations that describe detonation waves caused by explosions, describes how and under what conditions such jams form.

The MIT team said: “Variables such as traffic speed and traffic density are used to calculate the conditions under which a [phantom jam] will form and how fast it will spread.”

The model will not help break up jams once they have formed, but it will allow planners to predict where jams are most likely to occur.

This knowledge could help them to determine safe speed limits, and identify potential accident hotspots where the traffic density is greatest.

Further down the line, it could allow engineers to design roads that prevent traffic from building up dangerously.

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beachland2 14 July 2010

Re: Phantom jams 'can be predicted'

So the solution if we want independent driving control is we need a quadrupling of lanes on all roads. that way there wont be a car infront to get too close to.

or for busy roads we must just let computers drive for us (in speed terms).

I dont think we will get more roads...

"Good morning Hal" "good morning Dave"

sportwagon 14 July 2010

Re: Phantom jams 'can be predicted'

Autocar wrote:
Traffic jams can be predicted by a new formula developed by mathematicians at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Hardly a new formula, it is just a straightforward application of standing wave theory. (Google it if you really want to know more) In fact a real phantom jam was created a couple of years ago in Japan:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13402

Tatraman 14 July 2010

Re: Phantom jams 'can be predicted'

These are a result of the stupid high-level brake lights we now have, causing people to "panic brake" when they see brake lights 6 cars agead. Get rid of this unnecessy rubbish from our cars.