Why Traffic Jams Happen

In: Science Source: Ritholtz

7 Mar 2011

I hate traffic. Nothing makes me hate humanity more (except perhaps watching commercials – thank god for DVRs).  If you want to know more about why we drive the way we do, read Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic (which, somewhat strangely, includes no diagrams). (via Ritholtz)


Here’s a life-scale experiment that illustrates the shockwave effect:

4 Responses to Why Traffic Jams Happen



March 8th, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I always wondered if random braking was the cause of traffic jams…


DIY mom

March 8th, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I thought I remember in Driver’s Ed class they told us to make sure to break so others behind us would also know that a danger is coming up and so no one would rear end you. But it looks like it’s also contributing to traffic jams.

I saw this theory yesterday and thought about it as I was heading towards Chicago. Luckily I wasn’t on the road during rush hour.



March 9th, 2011 at 11:06 am

I always hate traffic!



July 4th, 2011 at 12:20 am

Glad to see SF over there; but I’m surprised LA is nowhere in the top 10.

Comment Form

What is Chart Porn?

An addictive collection of beautiful charts, graphs, maps, and interactive data visualization toys -- on topics from around the world.

  • Harde Schijf Recovery: Pizza! :D I never would have guessed that a smaller pizza is THAT MUCH smaller! So: great for wat [...]
  • Clyde: Those f'ing AdviceAnimals. Oneliner jokes superimposed onto an unnecessary picture. Whenever I do a [...]
  • Will Reinhardt: I had no idea that China was all in one timezone, that’s crazy to me. If you walk from China to Pa [...]
  • Coffey: Not to mean but the theory that Christianity is the one and only true religion is questionable. I s [...]
  • Drumwaster: Good thing we have these snapshots, otherwise I'd have to rely on NASA for such data, and what do th [...]