Why do freeways come to a stop? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 9 Old Nov 12th, 2013, 12:48 pm Thread Starter
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Why do freeways come to a stop?

Those of us who can split lanes see this happening as we move through packs of dense traffic, to clear road, to more dense traffic.


Ken
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Some people see the gas tank as half empty. Some see it as half full. All I care is that I know where the next tankful is coming from...
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post #2 of 9 Old Nov 12th, 2013, 2:07 pm
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Re: Why do freeways come to a stop?

A couple other factors not mentioned that, from my observation, contribute are:

Major entrances and exits in close proximity to each other. This is my daily battle between where 3 freeways merge (where I enter the scene) and about 4 miles later where there is another freeway intersection. It has always seemed to me that if traffic came onto a freeway on the left and exited on the right (or vice versa) things would flow much smoother. That 4-mile stretch consumes roughly 50% of my 20-mile commute every day. From an observation point it is because everyone getting on is trying to move left (because their lanes they come in on are exit only or end) and about 1/2 of the people already on the freeway are trying to move right to get off on their exit or the freeway a few miles up. Most of the accidents I see in this stretch (nearly every day) are caused by this cross-movement of traffic.

The other goes along with the first - the ramp meters. Many people can't get their cars up to freeway speeds prior to merging (for one reason or another) - combine that with the fact that the lane they are in is also the exit lane the guy at freeway speeds is trying to get off on but the slow-poke is in the way. Again it is two or more vehicles trying to trade places with each other and no form of two-way communication to coordinate the event. I used to have a 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham (the mafia staff car with the fins and all), that pathetic mid-80's Detroit 5.0L just couldn't put enough power to the wheels to move that land-yacht up to freeway speeds in time to merge and I'm sure I was always screwing up traffic downstream but there really was nothing I could do.

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post #3 of 9 Old Nov 12th, 2013, 3:22 pm
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Re: Why do freeways come to a stop?

There is an algorithm that relates the optimum distance between vehicles based on their current speed. This distance allows a following car (#2) time to slow down gradually should the person in front (#1) suddenly decelerate. #1 resumes normal speed as does #2. Vehicles #3+ will probably never touch their brakes. However, as seems to be the norm here, cars tailgate which doesn't allow for a slow contraction and expansion of the flow. Instead we have people stabbing their brakes which equates to people near the end actually coming to a complete stop. It can then take quite a while for this particular flow of traffic to recover.

If you've ever been caught in one of these nightmares you know that keeping a good distance behind the vehicle in front of you can let you roll along in first gear slowing and accelerating without stopping and thereby saving your left hand. Unfortunately, leaving such a space invites two drawbacks, the idiot behind you who lays on the horn and the fecal cephalic in the left or right lane who will cut in front of you because you left such a large, inviting space.

I agree with the exit and entrance ramps being too close. You want to move left and allow and vehicle to merge, but you can't because your exit is coming right up. "C'est la vie."

My personal gripe is the construction zone when a lane is being closed. There are plenty of warnings that a lane is about to end and most people will move over accordingly, but there are those who will scream right up to the barrier and then try to force their way over. This results in hard braking and what should have been a continuously moving flow comes to a halt.

Is it any wonder so many of us take to the blue highways?

Here endeth the sermon.

Take care,
Chris

"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God" Kurt Vonnegut

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post #4 of 9 Old Nov 12th, 2013, 5:04 pm
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Re: Why do freeways come to a stop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tracus
...Unfortunately, leaving such a space invites two drawbacks, the idiot behind you who lays on the horn and the fecal cephalic in the left or right lane who will cut in front of you because you left such a large, inviting space...
I couldn't agree more, I try to leave myself a large buffer so I can give the idiot behind me texting a little more notice that I am slowing before I really have to get after it but inevitably someone slips into that space.

I used to ride the bus to work some years back and one morning we had a driver that was leaving about 2 bus lengths in between him and the cars in front; people kept cutting in and he would slow to open up the space. Over and over again this happened until the bus was at a complete stop to create the gap and cars just kept slipping in in front of him so there we sat for some time. During that pause while traffic moved around us the bus that ran the same route 10 minutes later pulled out from behind us and passed. We did finally get moving again but needless to say I was late to work that day as I missed my connection. Never saw that guy again for which I shed no tear.

-Steve

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post #5 of 9 Old Nov 13th, 2013, 1:41 pm
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Re: Why do freeways come to a stop?

Meese's graphic plainly illustrates the solution. Simply stay away from Cleveland!

Brian
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post #6 of 9 Old Nov 13th, 2013, 4:06 pm
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Re: Why do freeways come to a stop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hallzee
Meese's graphic plainly illustrates the solution. Simply stay away from Cleveland!
Why do you think car #1 caused all that mess, he realized he was heading into Cleveland and had a panic attack and got off at whatever exit he could - as fast as he could.

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post #7 of 9 Old Nov 14th, 2013, 3:43 am
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Re: Why do freeways come to a stop?

Autonomous Caravans to the rescue!


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post #8 of 9 Old Nov 14th, 2013, 1:08 pm
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Re: Why do freeways come to a stop?

I 77 came to a complete stop at noon today not because of the Obama visit but to remove a dead animal from the highway. Police had a slow 'rolling' barricade for a couple miles while the carcass was removed. But that actually caused traffic to stop. I think it was a deer, not Obama.

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post #9 of 9 Old Nov 14th, 2013, 3:28 pm
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Re: Why do freeways come to a stop?

The next ??

Why do we park on DRIVE WAY?
An drive on PARKWAY?
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