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Math Says You're Driving Wrong

And it is slowing us all down

Ah, the phantom traffic jam. You know, that thing where the flow suddenly slows to a halt and you inch forward for a half hour and then things pick up again and you look around for an accident or construction or anything at all for Pete’s sake that might justify the time you just wasted. But no, nothing. It's as if the fates chose this particular time and place to screw with you.

The question is, why? People tailgating and bunching up, maybe. But a new study in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems mathematically models the implications of the larger problem: You’re not keeping the right distance from the car behind you.

That may seem counter-intuitive, since you don't have much control over how far you are from the car behind you—especially when that person is a tailgater. But the math says that if everyone kept an equal distance between the cars ahead and behind, all spaced out in a more orderly fashion, traffic would move almost twice as quickly. Now sure, you're probably not going to convince everyone on the road to do that. Still, the finding could be a simple yet powerful way to optimize semi-autonomous cars long before the fully self-driving car of tomorrow arrives.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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