The Simple Solution to Traffic

The Simple Solution to Traffic

Stuck at an intersection, you always watch unfold
the Fundamental Problem of Traffic. On green, the first car accelerates, and then the next, and then the next, and then the next, and then you, only to catch the red. Had the cars accelerated simultaneously you would have made it through. Coordination – not cars – is the problem, because we are
monkey drivers with slow reaction times and short attention spans. Even if we tried getting everyone to
press the pedal on 3-2-1-now would be challenging. This dis-coordination limits
how many cars can get through an intersection and when one backs up to the next, that’s when city-sized gridlock cascades
happen, taking forever to clear. In general, more intersections equals more
dis-coordination which equals more traffic. This is the motive behind big highways:
no intersections. Splits and merges, yes. Intersections, no. No stopping, no coordination problems, no traffic Well that’s the theory anyway. Intersections outside of a highway
will back up onto it. Again, because human reaction times
limit how many cars can escape the off-ramp when the light changes. But, even without intersections,
there would still be traffic on the highway. Traffic can just appear. Take a one lane highway with happy cars flowing until a chicken crosses the road. The driver who sees it brakes a little, the driver behind him doesn’t notice immediately
and brakes a little harder than necessary, the driver behind him does the same
until someone comes to a complete stop and, oh look, cars approaching at highway
speeds must now stop as well. Though the chicken is long gone,
it left a phantom intersection on the highway. This is what’s happened when
you’re stuck in traffic for hours thinking, “There must be a deadly pile up ahead”
and then suddenly, the traffic’s over with no wreckage in sight,
to your relief if you’re a good person and mild annoyance if you aren’t. You just pass through a
phantom intersection, the cause of which is long gone. And this phantom intersection moves. It’s really a traffic snake slithering down the road eating oncoming cars at one end
and pooping them out the other. On a ring road, a single car slowing down will start an Ouroboros of traffic that will last forever, even though there’s no problem with the road. If the drivers could coordinate to
accelerate and separate simultaneously, easy driving would return. But they can’t, so traffic eternal. On highways, traffic snakes grow
if cars are eaten faster than excreted, and they shrink if excreted faster than eaten, dying when the last car accelerates away
before the next car must stop. Now, in multi-lane highways,
there needs be no chicken to start gridlock. A driver crossing lanes quickly
with cars too close behind is enough to birth a traffic snake that lives for
hours and leagues. It’s this quick crossing that causes
drivers behind to over-brake and begin a chain reaction. But we *can* make traffic
snakes less likely by changing the way we drive. Your goal as a driver is to
stay the same distance from the car ahead as from the car behind at all times. Tailgating is trouble. Not just because
it makes accidents more likely but because you as the tailgater can start a
traffic snake if the driver ahead brakes. Always in the middle! This gives you the most time
to prevent over-braking but also gives the driver
behind you the most time as well. And when stuck in traffic, this rule would get all cars to pull apart the snake faster. That’s the simple solution to traffic:
getting humans to change their behavior, perhaps by sharing this video to show
how and why traffic happens, why tailgaters are trouble, and how we can work together to make the roads better for all. The End. Except, yeah… wishing upon a star that people are
better than they are is a terrible solution. Every time. Instead, what works is a
structurally systematized solution which is exactly what self-driving cars are. Self-driving cars can just be programmed to stay in the middle and accelerate simultaneously. They’ll just do it. The more self-driving cars at an intersection,
the more efficient the intersection gets. A solid lane of self-driving cars
vastly increases throughput. Hmm, actually! If you ban humans from the road
(which we should totally do anyway) you can get rid of the intersection entirely. After all, a traffic light is just a tool for drivers
on one road to communicate with drivers on another, poorly and coarsely. Red equals “Don’t go now,
we are coming through the intersection.” Green equals “good to go.” But self-driving cars can talk
to each other at the speed of light. with that kind of coordination, no traffic light necessary. Just as with the highway, the best
intersection is no intersection. Humans will never drive this precisely. At the intersection, the fundamental problem with traffic that you watch unfold, as well as everything, is people. So the real simple solution to traffic: is no more monkeys driving cars. This video has been brought to you
in part by, with over 180,000 audiobooks
and spoken audio products. Get a free trial today by going to If you like thinking about how the future can be better, why not read the Elon Musk biography: “Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future”
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100 Replies to “The Simple Solution to Traffic”

  1. So the answer is less freedom. And I shouldn’t be able to operate my 30,000 purchase. That’s reasonable. Traffic sucks but like being allowed to drive.

  2. I’m still trying to understand why people beep when the lights are red and there are a bunch of car in front of me

  3. Man, I love cars but they still are the biggest problem in traffic there is. If 40 people have almost the same route to work every day, they could take the bus and it would take 39 cars of the road (and pollute 40 times less). Or even better, take the train or subway! A carpool would also help…
    I hate to admit it but a perfect transportation for our society would be no cars, except when you're going in a very specific route.
    I mean, autonomous cars would reduce traffic, but not pollution, and for me the fact that various people will be sitting in their cars not doing anything instead of doing the exact same thing in a bus doesn't make much sense. And if you maybe have to walk a little to work, that's excellent! Your health will thank you later.

  4. Potential solution, Min speed sign, so no one should drop below certain speed, if needed, use emergency lane for stopping, or slowing… Would it work?

  5. Para todos los que aún no tenemos 1,000 subs no nos demos por vencidos y seamos constantes, pronto llegaremos. Saludos 🙂

  6. 1980s – we will have fly cars in future cuz then they will have traffic

    2019 – traffic

    Also 2019 – Still not understood

    why? Cuz we are *HUMANS!*

  7. A major flaw in your theory about self driving cars are the solution…
    ALL computer systems have repairs. Maintenance and crash, or God forbid, get hacked.

    What happens then? Your thoughts are of a utopian society.

  8. Nothing will work in Kansas, people here drive 5 miles under the speed limit, the slowest drivers in the USA, and the world.

  9. The same way they are trying to take away our guns, if they are not already taken, they will take away our right to drive. We are strugling to keep our rights, people around the world, the americans still have the second amendment to protect them at least, the rest of the world is completely doomed. No one seems to notice it, the cars are in danger.

  10. Топ, все понятно, только бо водилы это посмотрели и что то поняли, было бы хорошо

  11. The start of this video misses the point and just blames drivers. Drivers are actually allowing for a buffer between vehicles before moving again. The safe buffer between cars collapses before each red light. We typically don't drive that close together all the time because it's not safe, we have to let the cars in front gain some distance from the ones behind.

  12. Why can't we have a system that beeps annoyingly when there is not enough safety distance? Make it law and install it in every car. We have the technology.

  13. this was not a solution we cannot change people perspective of looking the better way to avoid traffic is bar Gage with suppose we are on the road where the road is going straight and intersection comes and even signal is there there would be misguide traffic bar gage can solve problem of it or another is the intersection should have speakers to monitor the road always or best option is travel by public less bikes less cars less traffic

  14. This shit gets me to peak rage nothing like leaving for work a few mins early thinking your going to get to work early but somehow end up being 15 mins late

  15. "If you ban humans entirely (…)" – yes, what a nice idea – autonomous vehicles driven by the central computer. No speeding, no not-approved destinations. Order. Efficiency. Tax farm.

  16. Traffic – By Human Being
    Solution – Discipline of Human Being
    Is it work – Not Maintened by Human Being
    Reason – No Fear of Rule/Challan and Lack of Will Power

  17. Not applicable in India bcz

    Indian driver- I'm the fucking tax pair now the whole countries road is my . I drive in my way .

  18. people saying this needs to be taught clearly did not pay attention in driving school……… the first thing taught is to always maintain safe following distance: '2-5 seconds' depending on speed as rule of thumb. idiots.

  19. Why do they make so many cars with 4 to 6 seats and almost everyone you see while your stuck in traffic has only one person in it including the one your in 20.000 dollars to get stuck in traffic every day so you can get to work to pay for the car your sitting in to get stuck in traffic sounds like fun

  20. If there is no car behind me on road, i need to stop until i see one and rapidly accelerate to get in middle. Sorry this method doesnt work

  21. You are wrong. All cars should have perfectly same specification like acceleration and decceleration. Just self-driving is not a solution

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