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TIL Phantom traffic jams (queues of traffic not caused by vehicle collisions or roadworks) are the result of a single driver braking suddenly, causing each successive car to break to a greater degree, creating a wave of stopped or slowed traffic.

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Just turn down politeness a bit and watch the constant lane changers make everything worse.

If you aren't passing anyone, or in traffic, don't just change lanes for no reason.

If you missed your exit, don't at the last second drive over three lanes to make it! Drive to the next place you can turn around and do it safely there.

These very simple rules would help us ALL get where we are going with less stress and faster.

2.7k points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

If you missed your exit, don't at the last second drive over three lanes to make it!

This infuriates me to no end, along with its cousin: seeing a bunch of cars backed up off an exit ramp, then new cars try to cut in the line at the last second, causing another entire lane to come to a stop.

Edit: Wow, my most liked comment is inducing road rage in stationary people. Stay awesome, Reddit. <3

Yeah, I fucking hate those people and they do it to me at a train station turn off in Boston every morning. They are commuters who come in every morning and they know the right lane is an exit only lane for the station, and they always stay in the middle and force their way over BY THE DOZENS every morning while I wait in the traffic they are creating.

The ironic part being that everyone would get there much faster if they just waited in line for a few seconds.

611 points·8 days ago

See, the problem is that they dont care about everyone, they care about themselves. Efficiency and politeness for everyone? Who cares about that when I need to wait an extra 1 minute in line?

I do think people who are letting them in are also partly to blame which is the point above about politeness I think. It's infuriating to be sat in miles of traffic and watch the car in front of u let 5,6,7 cars in who all felt they were too important to queue.

My policy is if I or the person in front of me have already merged, I don't let anybody else merge, and I try to avoid letting people merge until the lane is starting to end, so the zipper method can work its magic

The zipper is inapplicable to people just merging in from the wrong lane.

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I wish it was a fixable problem. It would involve teaching every driver to NOT be selfish just to save themselves a couple mins. But I can’t see that ever happening.

The only thing that would solve this is self driving cars controlled by a central traffic system. Take human error out of the equation. But I doubt we’ll see that in our lifetimes.

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Ironic and infuriating.

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On an exit this is true but I hate when people apply this thinking to a regular lane merge. Zipper merge for life.

113 points·8 days ago

I wish it were a mandatory part of testing to get a license. You must drive during peak traffic and complete a few zipper merges. Around here it's either:

A) People who don't understand how to match the speed of traffic, so they expect you to exit the lane to make room for them. I call this The Proxy Merge.

B) People who say fuck your zipper, and merge even over a solid white line, before the people ahead of them have merged. This same asshole usually cuts straight across the middle lane, directly over to the passing lane...where they stay the entire time until they get within 3 feet of their exit, where they then reverse the process.

People not matching the speed of traffic is irritating as fuck. They give you a runway for a reason! Speeeeeeeeed up!

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People need to collectively not let those shitheads in. I know i dont.

177 points·8 days ago·edited 6 days ago

Same. My girlfriend hates it too because she thinks it just makes everything worse for everyone behind us. But if everyone just collectively stops letting these people cut them off then they'll stop trying. They only do it because people let them. The vast majority of them aren't people who genuinely missed the exit, they're assholes who don't feel like waiting in line like everyone else.

I think the people that let them in are more infuriating then the ones that do it. Honestly, why wouldn't they take advantage of the giant window at the front of the line when someone isn't paying attention.

People who let people in front like that think they are being nice but they are actually being rude to everyone in line behind them - they are being nice to someone being rude and being rude to all of those being nice behind them.

Think of it this way - if you were standing in a queue for a ride or whatever and you allowed anyone who walked up to you in front of you, you would absolutely consider that rude to everyone behind you

When I'm in a situation like this I am as far to the left as I can possibly be and make it clear I'm not allowing you to butt in line.

88 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

It's not that they are always trying to be nice, it's sometimes because they are trying to avoid an accident. Someone pushing in usually is not paying attention and will clip your car if needed. Even worse, it means you have to tail gate the person in front of you which is not only stressful but can also cause an accident if they brake suddenly.

I get trying to prevent it the best you can, but at some point it's not worth the stress and risk to ensure they don't cut in front of you.

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115 points·8 days ago

I do my best to not let those people in, and when they force themselves in by almost hitting my car, I hold my horn as long as I can

Luckily I don't drive to work often, but when I do I experience that every time. I drove in yesterday and some guy in a truck was impatient and speed through the exit lane to cut in front of me almost hitting me. I didn't have a choice in letting him through because I had only inches between his truck and my car and he wasn't stopping. I'm glad I take the train the majority of the time.

46 points·8 days ago

At least you're okay. I hope that truck driver has terrible diarrhea the rest of this week.

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The only reason I would ever hope for a “Purge” situation is so that I can legally break the kneecaps of every driver that rides to the front, blissfully ignorant of the traffic that’s been crawling in the right lane for the last two miles, and then shoves their nose into the first millimeter-wide opening in stopped traffic, leaving their ass hanging 3/4 out in the other lane and causing semis to have to lock ‘em up to avoid plowing into them, causing a ripple effect of even shittier traffic for miles behind them.

I have a very frustrated relationship with the M-59 W/I-75 S interchange.

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In general, if someone is trying to merge, I let them. I'm not gonna get where I'm going any slower by letting that one car in front of me.

This is the one exception. If you try to cut off the whole line, I'm not letting you in.

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It's not just lane changers. People don't know how to coast and keep adequate distance. Its all gas-break-gas-break morons who cause more traffic than necessary. It's things like this they don't teach in driving school.

102 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

My favorite part is when I am coming to a light the just turned red up the road, so I just start coasting, then some ass hat passes me in a hurry to get to that red light...

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Braking on the freeway for no GD reason needs to stop.

Related to your post, I moved to a southern city. Nothing pissed other drivers off more than when I wouldn't gas my way to a light where I'd have to slam on my brakes. At least winter forces people to coast a bit more.

To be fair the effect only happens if people don't repsect the two second rule and are basically tailgating the other car. If every car had enough buffer room this wouldn't happen.

I'm also referring to when the only other car insight keeps braking, accelerating, braking etc. for no GD reason for miles on end on the interstates. I do a lot of long distance driving.

I think some "people" have this mentality of (I haven't hit the brake in a while, better press it).

Also when your using cruise control. You begin to pass someone. They realize they could be going faster, so they do. And now your stuck next to them for rest of your life unless you now adjust your own speed on an empty road.

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Burning gas and wearing out pads.

The most infuriating thing for me is when people don’t accelerate when coming up to a hill and end up dropping 15-20km/h by the time they get to the top. You’re just making your engine work harder than it needs to and pissing off everyone behind you.

45 points·8 days ago

> It's things like this they don't teach in driving school.

They do, though. I distinctly remember being taught this. Maybe some people just forget.

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242 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

if you missed your exit, dont at the last second drive over three lanes to make it! Drive to the next place where you can turn around and do it safely.

I just wanted to comment on this part. Theres a traffic circle I go through almost daily. At least once a week I get into, or witness, a near collision.

One of my favorites was when someone was in the circle to my right; she was in the lane that HAD to exit, and I was in the lane that could exit or keep going, but I was exiting. Well she decided at the last second that she didn't want to exit which resulted in me slamming on my brakes and completely stopping in the circle. She cut me off completely so she could continue in the circle. Now it's times like this that EVEN THOUGH you are in the wrong lane, you still have to follow the fucking rules! It would've taken her a whole extra minute to just exit the circle and turn around. But she decided she was more important than everyone else driving.

Worse than that, they're basically saying that your life is meaningless because they dont even remotely care about how much danger they put you in by cutting you off and making you slam your brakes. Assholes. All of them.

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I’ve literally witnessed a car trying to do a 3 point turn and drive the wrong way because they missed their exit in a traffic circle instead of just going back around....

Now that's next level stupidity.

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It's just occurred to me that driving in traffic is almost exactly the prisoner's dilemma. If people cooperate it's pretty good for everyone, but we're all afraid that if we try to cooperate, we'll be betrayed (cut off), and end up getting screwed, and so we dont cooperate and it ends up bad for all of us.

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Couldn’t be more wrong... The procedure (here in LA anyway) when you miss your exit on the freeway is to come to a sudden stop completely, back the Range Rover up to the exit entrance and THEN proceed into your exit.

But then how am I gonna win the Grand Prix.

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1.2k points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

I'm bookmarking this. The next time there's a post talking about "Why can't I just drive in the fast lane all the time even if I'm not going that fast" (like this) I'll post it and tell them to adjust nothing but the "Right Bias Cars" slider down, and watch what happens.

Going 65 in the fast passing lane when everyone else is fucking going 75-80+. The worst.

It's especially bad in my state, because every driver in Massachusetts is THE most important driver in the state of Massachusetts.

412 points·8 days ago

Germany: Going 65 in the fast passing lane when everyone else is fucking going 130-150+. The worst.

Assuming u/Dahhhkness is in Mass, 65 mph is 104 kmph -- still shitty.

What gets me is that some tollroads in Pennsylvania have a speed limit of 70 mph/~113 kmph -- but people will do 55 mph/~88 kmph in the passing lane.

If you are a person that does this, FUCK YOU

166 points·8 days ago

This is a huge problem in the Denver area. At least half the time, the left lane is not the fastest lane. There's often some jackass just putzing along at or below the speed limit in the left lane when traffic is going +5 in the slow lane and when unobstructed, +15 or more in the left lane. On the highway (4-7 lanes wide), the right lane or the one next to it is often the fastest. So many people cram as far left as they can leaving the rightmost lanes open for fast traffic. It causes such a dangerous traffic pattern to have slow traffic merging to the left and fast traffic merging to the right.

We have that problem in El Paso, too. Yesterday I could see the rolling roadblock on I-10 where every driver in each lane was doing within 2-3 mph of the speed limit. Ahead of them was free and clear road for a good quarter mile.

By me it's raw dog no lube experience: hold on to the left lane as hard as you can for as long as you can and then hit the brakes when you're right across from your exit and triple lane change over with not a single fuck givin. On rare occasions they'll add a broken condom by putting on the turn signal as they swing over.

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Seriously...people on the turnpike can't drive.

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Then there's that one guy in the Porsche doing 200.

That was the most surreal part of driving on the autobahn for me. I'm going around 170 kph in the center lane. Scarce traffic, life is good.

I see a car on the horizon so I prepare to get in the left lane and overtake it. I check my mirrors. There's a car just barely visible way back there. Are they going 150? Are they going 200? Should I hold off on passing so I don't slow them down, or will I have the time I need? No need to fret because they were going nearly 240 and have already passed me.

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You mean 260

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Italy: Going how the hell you want wherever you freaking want to. Benvenuti. (welcome)

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I feel for you. But I gotta tell you, come to Miami. So-Flo drivers are the absolute worst fucking drivers in the country. Every road trip I've ever done my first reaction is never, "wow this place is amazing" its "wow the drivers here actually know how to drive".

101 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

Miami itself is a nightmare especially if you don't live there. I mean I live near Tampa and people suck here, but Miami is a whole different animal.

It's not your normal everyday shitty driving. It's advanced shitty driving.

Edit: sp

I'm in the military, I moved around a lot. Every state has terrible drivers. And the closer you get to major metropolitan areas, the worst the get but also, the better they get. Example, in the DC area, people love to jump out of a slowing lane abruptly into what they perceive as a faster lane. This is shitty. But the better part is that everyone is so accustomed to it, they don't suddenly brake, they just flow with it because it's expected. Driving safely is all about predictability. In DC, shitty driving is predictable. Now, take that style and transplant it into a small city interstate area, you'll get accidents, panic braking, and horns tooting.

DC: predictably shitty.

As someone living in DC, sounds about right actually.

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The interesting thing about Florida is that there is no cliche Floridian driver.

Florida drivers are awful because they've migrated to Florida from everywhere in the country, bringing with them all their local driving habits and customs. None of these habits mesh together, and everyone refuses to adjust, making the whole traffic situation this inchoate mess of drivers that are all terrible in 50 different ways.

It's a catastrophe of traffic.

Ontop of that you have a huge tourist influx nearly all year, so you have a hodgepodge of weird drivers and habits. I did not enjoy driving in Florida.

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Living in Georgia, I feel like Floridians, Michiganders, Ohioans, and folks from Ontario are competing for who can make me swear the most while on I-75...

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Moved from MA to FL.

Can confirm nobody here knows how to drive

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I think my favorite part is that even if you put the slider back afterwards, its still fucked. Theres no saving it, it just turns to shit cause the passing lane got stuck.

That "stuck" thing is why it's so frustrating to try to talk to people about it in real life. They make one small mistake, and think nothing of it because they see maybe one or two cars behind them brake, and then they're gone. They've driven away without any traffic issues, without realizing that they just ruined the road for the next 45 minutes.

Some motherfucker today was in thr left lane, then suddenly switched to the second to right lane, slammed his brakes, and made everyone wait so he could get into the exit. Right at the last point he could possibly exit. Fuck that guy.

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45 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

Show them what happens when you do nothing but decrease "lane change politeness" too.

Also, it looks like increasing the density of the traffic increases traffic jams too, even if you don't touch any of the other settings. The right lane as a "passing lane" disappears very quickly. This is what I try to tell people who insist on tailgaiting and saying you're going too slow. I'm not going too slow, traffic just can't go at 70mph on the highway when it's densely packed. It can't. If it tries, nobody could possibly be following at a safe distance and everyone will be tailgating.

I think that's what they want. They're tailgating because they obviously don't care about following super uber close. If all it takes for traffic to go at 70 at rush hour is for everyone to follow with a distance of 0.05 seconds, they'd probably want everyone to tailgate with 0.05 seconds.

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wow this is fantastic. I turned politeness down to 0 for 10 seconds and then back up and i made a traffic jam that lasted 10 minutes

212 points·8 days ago

You can fix it by cutting the number of cars down by half.


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203.3k points·8 days ago

That article mentions three solutions, which all happen to be outside of a driver's control. As a driver, you can combat this by driving more smoothly and predictably:

  • Leave reasonable distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. This enables you to drive more smoothly by giving you more time to respond to things that are happening ahead.

  • Simply let off the accelerator for smaller needs to decelerate. This is one way to drive more smoothly, and is enabled by having reasonable distance. Touching your brakes for a minor change in speed may make drivers behind you overreact and brake harder.

  • Signal your lane changes. This improves predictability.

  • Try to maintain a constant speed. It might be slightly slower than you want to go, but the increased predictability by driving a constant speed will improve the flow of traffic for everyone. If your vehicle is equipped with cruise control, consider using it where appropriate.

2.2k points·8 days ago

I always do this, and then an angry driver gets very close behind me, not quite understanding what I’m doing, and right when they get the chance, they switch lane and then get in front of me, giving me an angry look. 2 seconds later, they’ve reached the car in front of me and they brake.

I don’t understand people.

1.4k points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago


This is basically driving in Massachusetts, with the added benefit of never signaling when they do this, because using the turn signal is telling the enemy your plans.

I’m in Philly and people expect me to drive fast (I drive a muscle car) but I coast at like 10 mph to red lights. They get really annoyed and then they swerve from behind me, rev up to like 30 mph and cut in front of me....all to land at the same exact red light.

People are really stupid. Then they wonder why their brakes are always shot.

215 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

I suspect the other drivers who ride my ass are thinking I can go faster than the cars in front of me. Someone needs to inform them that their being in a hurry doesn't turn on cheat code: idclip and give the ability to travel through other cars.

I live in the Northwest where we have the opposite problem. Everybody here drives slow as shit. There's a long four-lane street near my house where the speed limit is 35mph and it has a stoplight at every block. As long as you go between 30-35mph, you won't hit any red lights, but people routinely go 25mph in the left lane. So I pass them in the right and watch them get stuck at a stop light while I can travel the entire length of this miles-long road and won't get stopped before I reach my house.

But occasionally, other drivers think I'm being a dick and will actively try to cut me off by moving into the right lane as I'm about to pass them, so that I can't. I can never understand the logic of doing this.

75 points·8 days ago

will actively try to cut me off by moving into the right lane as I'm about to pass them

The ol "I like to drive miserably slow, so you have to be miserable too!" mentality

I get this all the time in Houston. There's a mile long stretch of road I have to take to get to work every day that has two lanes going north and two going south and the speed limit is 45 mph. No stop lights, no intersections, nothing but straight, empty road for a full mile.

Every fucking day, two cars will go 40 side by side the whole way and back the road up all the way back to I-10. I easily spend half of my 30 minute commute to work and back home on this one mile stretch of nothing just because these dumb fucks don't wanna ride behind someone who's doing the same speed they are anyway.

43 points·8 days ago

People going side by side at the same speed like this really need to understand that the left lane is for passing only

"But you shouldn't be going over speed limit anyway!" - left lane cruisers everywhere

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I live in Seattle and feel your pain. People around here seem to take personal offense to anyone who actually has somewhere to be. Tons of control freaks who think they need to police anyone going faster than they’re comfortable driving.

No one uses their turn signals, people will always take a turn as slow as they possibly can, and everyone will cut you off when switching lanes by not giving ample warning. Passing people is impossible because they’ll speed up when they notice you have your signal on because god forbid someone gets in the lane in front of them. Driving is fucking ass in the PNW.

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39 points·8 days ago

Yeah I drive similarly when approaching red lights, I usually try to time it so I can just roll through the light when it changes as opposed to stopping. I've had the same brakes for ~ 50k miles and they still work like a champ, I even did an autocross event with them.

Be careful doin that though, you never know when someones comin who really wants to make that light and yall collide in the middle.

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Rather have that than what we have in Georgia. People taking forever to accelerate after the light turns green, waiting 7ish car lengths before they even start moving forward, which causes the car sensor to change the light.

Or people never getting up to speed on the highway because they are taking the next exit which forces everyone to merge into 70 mph traffic going 45 mph. Or driving down the interstate going 45 mph making them a road hazard.

And people driving side by side going 15 mph below the posted limit making it impossible to over take. Which cause everyone behind them to hit every single red light on the road because all those lights are timed for people going the actual fucking speed limit.

So, I would rather have the aggressive drivers over the oblivious road hazard drivers any day. At least I know the aggressive drivers are paying attention and not just meandering aimlessly down the road without a thought to the world around them.

Omg, am in GA... the green light thing is no joke. It's almost always the people to the front that act like they have all day to make the light. Turn lights, especially... the first 3 or 4 cars take all damn day while the last 8 cars are squeezing through as tight as possible.

I admit, I've used this tendency to skip the line on a few occasions by moving into the giant gap they leave and making the turn. But fuck if I'm going to sit through another light cycle because Jimbo left a 3 second gap going through the light.

Moved to GA a few years ago. The left turns are the WORST! If you are 7 or more cars back, this is what you see; light changes to green... 4-5 seconds later... see first car in line enter your field of vision turning left... 5+ seconds later... see second car... light turns yellow. WHAT ARE THEY DOING UP THERE?

Exactly! I used to chalk it up to texting, and although that's often enough the case, I've seen it plenty where people just... sit there... and featherfoot it through the light.

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I'm with you. Too often where I live, there are long stretches of road and highway that are wide open... right in front of a wall of cars driving side-by-side below the speed limit and causing huge back-ups behind them.

Be safe, but be courteous. You're not the only one on the road, and if you can't feel safe while obeying the rules of the road, you shouldn't be on the road. Your safety is important, but so is the safety and schedules of the dozens (or hundreds, or thousands in my area) of people behind you.

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I've driven through Mississippi and Alabama four times now, and all four times I've experienced incredibly aggressive but incredibly safe drivers. They don't ass ride, they don't go 45 in the passing lane, and they don't ride side-by-side blocking traffic. However, they do go 90 along their entire stretch of 65 rated interstate. They will absolutely swerve around your slow ass if you're in the way. They want to get where they're going, but they're not gonna die to do it, and honestly it makes me want to move to 'Bama when I retire.

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I live in Texas and have driven a lot on our freeways my entire life. I used to have really bad road rage about the inconsiderate, ignorant bullshit brought to life by the mouthbreather general public in traffic. Like, "WHY ARE YOU SUCH AN ASSHOLE!? DO YOU KNOW WHAT A FUCKING BLINKER IS!? JUST GET IN THE FUCKING LANE YOU NEED TO BE IN AND BE A DECENT PERSON FOR FUCKS SAKE!" But I mean, all day. Everywhere.

But I have reached kind of a weird zen place right now. I just laugh at the basically insane shit people do, like, every morning. It just comes down to primates operating giant moving metal contraptions. Dumb, often angry, mouthbreathing primates.

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Also, when you learn from drivers training (and common sense) to leave yourself at least 1-2 car lengths ahead of you for those drivers that brake suddenly and such, another driver sees that space like "oooh, room for me to change lanes right in front of you cuz the car in front of me is too slow".

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Very big city driver mentality. I drive like this too. Whenever people zoom by me I often think "See you in 5 seconds."

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People (as a collective) are stupid and selfish/ego-centric. That’s about all you need to know. Trying to understand it beyond that really isn’t worth it.

Yep, traffic is like water. It will always follow the path of least resistance because people are selfish, impatient assholes, and the anonymity of being in a car brings that out in full.

I’ve always said that traffic abhors a vacuum. You can have two lines of solid bumper-to-bumper traffic but, if you leave two or more car lengths of space in your lane, someone will always slide over to fill it - even though they gain nothing from it.

The anonymity of being in a car also allows me to sing along with the radio as loud as I can.

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UGH I hate when I'm leaving a buffer (or even just a safe follow distance - does anyone but me remember the four second rule from driver's ed??) and someone cuts in front of me and makes me slam on my brakes. You are the traffic, bro. It's you.

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I live in So Cal. People who brake for no reason on the freeway should have their licenses revoked. It is the root of all evil. The worst is going south on the 405 in the Sepulveda pass. People break like they’re suddenly in a bobsled race, but the downhill grade is so slight that if you take your foot off the accelerator, you start slowing down. It’s maddening.

It’s sad really. These tips are so painfully obvious, but most people flip their idgaf switch when they get in their cars.

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Trying to leave space between vehicles is nearly impossible. Any time i create space in traffic, an idiot thinks its an opening so they pull in. A lot of these tips i learned on my own years ago driving in LA traffic. One thing i recommend is "dont change lanes if you dont have to." Unnecessary lanes changes slow everyone down. It make suck to see the other lane move ahead of you but your lane WILL be next to move ahead of them.

2064 points·8 days ago

Drivers who think they're more important, are in a bigger hurry, are more entitled, or just don't plan as much as everyone else are the bane to assured clear distance. It creates this mindset of "defending your territory", which I think would contribute to road rage incidents.

Along with not changing lanes unnecessarily, there's also making sure you're in the correct lane before you need to be, so as to avoid sudden lane changes. Also, keep right unless passing.

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4.3k points·8 days ago

In normal traffic you should almost never have to touch your brakes on the highway. I get irratated as hell when youre driving down the road and the guy in front of you keeps tapping thier brakes and there's nothing in front of them. People need to learn to drive with thier gas not the brake.

2.1k points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

You’re telling me I can control my speed by simply letting off the accelerator? Get out of here with that crazy talk

He's a dirty liar. The correct way to drive is to ride your gas then brake hard in alternating fashion. This ensures minimum consistency and keeps other drivers alert.

One foot on each pedal.

I alternate the pedals to the beat of "eye of the tiger"

If you arent doing it to Through the fire and flames, then you arent trying hard enough.

I don't think the car would go anywhere with that song

It would go through fire and flames

We carry on.

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My most famous road rage line, my friends will make fun of me cause I yell it so much, is “WHY ARE YOU BRAKING?!”

I always yell that too but between each word I insert a variety of swear words.

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Also keeps the auto mechanic busy with brake work!

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Also, tailgate the person in front of you so closely that when they slow down, you have to hard brake

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So true. I lasted over 90k miles on my brake pads by anticipating stops and leaving enough space. Coasting saves lots of gas too.

Why do people not coast more?! It's like their foot always has to be on the gas or the break and it never occurrs to them that it's an option to just hover your foot above the pedals.

Because people are impatient and would rather ride the guys bumper in front of them than just sit back and relax.

It’s because it’s a personal attack to their person if someone changes lanes in front of them. And it’s also a hate crime when no one lets them in when they need to change lanes.

Only reason I may get close to someone is if I'm trying to get around these 2 cars in 2 separate lanes both driving the same speed with almost enough space to change lanes in between them and get out of there.

People don't realize you're not supposed to be driving the same speed as the people next to you. It's even against the law in some places (not like it's enforced... so it never gets corrected). You have to be moving forward/backward to maintain the flow. Can't be a wall that prohibits drivers going past you.

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18 points·8 days ago

Because they want to go there fast, so they go faster even though there is a car up front, they speed up, then they brake, speed up, brake again, meanwhile if he just stayed behind, another car would be doing this and he would stay at constant speed.

Its a result of automatic transmissions. People have never learned or forgotten about engine braking.

This, you can tell who has or actively drives a manual trans by the way they drive to keep the car in gear.

Bingo. Both my parents drove stick shifts my whole childhood, and I picked up this habit from them. Now I make a game out of it in stop-and-go freeway traffic, even when driving an automatic, seeing how well I can smooth out the waves without coming to an actual stop. (20 mph seems to be the magic speed around here.)

rush hour is pretty bad where I’m at, to keep myself occupied I try to eat those waves as much as possible. it sucks when the guy behind me renders all my work null, though

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100 points·8 days ago

I've read that your MPG is impacted more by braking than by acceleration. The concept is that when you brake, you're wasting kinetic energy. You spent gas to accelerate and you're throwing those gains away. You can make the most of that expenditure by letting the car slow naturally by simply letting off the gas.

For example, if you're going 40mph and coast down to 30 as you approach a light to give it time to change, you only have to accelerate 10mph to get back to 40. Contrasted with making a full stop, you must accelerate from 0 to 40mph, which uses more gas than a delta of 10mph.

"You're throwing those gains away"

Instructions unclear. Left my car at the gym with a protein shake in the gas tank.


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87k on my SUV, orginal breaks. Was told two years ago I might have another year on them. This year he told me that he realized that the car had the OEM break pads on it, he said 'I wanted to tell you that you had less than a year but I realized that you have almost 90k on them so I am guessing you have a few left'.

I'm over 100,000 on my original Yukon's pads.

A shame the dash and other items didn't make it past 30k.


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I dont know about everyone else, but I only recently started looking at the cars ahead of the cars in front of me through their windshields and from the side if possible. its amazing what you can anticipate when you see the gap between those cars get smaller. I hardly ever have to brake. it kinda seems like not many people do this but Im not really sure

Extending your awareness beyond what’s near you. Training to do this in all areas is what is best in life.

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I drive a car in a sea of SUVs and trucks. I can't see shit.

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Tell me about it. I work night shift and drive when the highway is almost empty. Despite this, I see people hitting the breaks on the highway for NO REASON. No cars ahead of them, they’re not taking an exit, there’s no curve ahead, etc. I’m convinced people just like to be morons sometimes.

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28 points·8 days ago

I have an aunt who lives in Dallas. She NEVER uses cruise control, and doesn't seem to understand how to hold the accelerator steady. I've been on trips with her in which we drove over 200 miles with her constantly alternating between the gas and brake pedals.

welcome to I-35 between Dallas and Austin. 3 hours of everyone braking/accelerating in both lanes all the time. you cant use your cruise control if you try becuase of all the morons who speed up/slow down all the time

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The constant breaking annoys the hell out of me. This could easily be avoided if you left ample space between bumpers so you could let your foot off the pedal instead of braking. Drivers in AZ seem to prefer tailgating and constant smashing of their brakes rather than doing that.

I think he's talking about the people who, with no one in front of them, will start tapping their brake to maintain speed (often lower than the limit it seems). Guessing two foot drivers because I'm pretty sure using your right foot to deal with both the accelerator and brake pedal is a racing technique, and these people are definitely not looking to get somewhere quickly. Same people that will slow down on the freeway in a turn.

People drive with two feet?!? That seems so wrong.

It is. My friends mom never learned how to drive and that's how she does it. Hell the only reason she has a license is because she went in to the DMV to get a state ID and they accidentally gave her a license instead.

I feel like that's highly illegal

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When I got my car in highschool the dash had a current mpg display, I got so good at using minimal gas and braking as little as possible.

I swear that thing makes me increase my mpg’s by 10-20, compared to when I don’t look at it.

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1.9k points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

Traffic jams are the perfect example of how humans fail to see how working in the best interest of everyone actually yields the best results for themselves. Individualistic thinking may yield advantages once in awhile, but acting to benefit the group, on average, yields better individual results over the long run.

Edit: spelling

788 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

It's the classic prisoners dillema. Leaving a good gap to the car in front of me will be the best for everyone, but if people in the other lane just see it as an opportunity to jump two cars ahead by merging into that gap, then the benefit is gone and I'm now an extra car back in the jam.

It only works if everyone does it, and everyone pretty consistently DOES NOT do it.

Edit: To clear up a little of the misunderstanding, I am talking about an already jammed scenario. Trying to help it has just caused me to get cut off by other drivers as infinitum. When traffic is flowing? I absolutely keep a safe distance that will allow me to absorb any irregularities in flow without braking.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is literally impossible because of the impact of even small negative actions. Also sure there are people that are always horrible drivers, but most people are only horrible some of the time.

So say you have 100 drivers and at any given time 3 of them are being assholes, the whole system is fucked. The only way to combat this will be with autonomous vehicles.

On a side note, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills when we just accept roadside fatalities in bulk as a cost of doing business.


Every time you decide to be a cunt on the road, imagine you have a brand new 16 year old driver as a child and someone is doing the exact same thing to them. Pretty fucked no?

Upvote for ‘fuckstick.’ It’s one of my favorite words.

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Exactly, it's a numbers issue. If we can't get a quorum of people to start engaging in this behavior simultaneously, it won't work.

Best to just remove people from the equation all together...

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90 points·8 days ago

I used to sit on a parking structure and watch the 60 freeway. It truly is an amazing sight to witness this. The best way I can describe it is like watching a creek flow around a small shallow stone. You can see the same ripple effects in the water and the cars on the freeway.

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As a motorcyclist in a country that allows lane splitting, these kind of jams confuse the fuck out of me.

I'll be cruising along between loads of traffic, people honking, switching lanes without indicating or using mirrors, and all of a sudden ... nothing ... Empty highway.

3 minutes of pure bliss until I get to the next jam, which is there for the exact same reason.

192 points·8 days ago

I would be scared as fuck splitting lanes with how many idiot drivers are out there.

Idiot drivers are a major issue. I only do this during my commute (NEVER in a weekend!) and on roads I know where most people expect it. The E40 from Gent to Brussel for example, 99% of drivers will make plenty room between second and third lane, because they know someone will be revving an engine at them otherwise. Several hundred bikers will pass you by anyway, so might as well make an extra bike-lane.

You'll meet the occasional spaz weaving in and out of traffic without indicators, but you learn to spot those a mile away fairly easily.

As for safety, it's apparently been 12 years since the last deadly accident happened while legally lane-splitting, so there's that.

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I'm mad jelly that you get to do that

Mad jelly at his no jam. Troof

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Someone must do this in Houston at least once an hour.

Happens in Toronto indefinitely. There are constant a variables. There's always a car, always a stupid fucking driver slowing down for zero reason other than their stupidity.

  • Old people that brake hard when they start to catch up a bit to the person twelve car lengths ahead of them?

  • People who think they should always be in the middle lane when the right lane is clear.

  • People who think they should always be in the left lane when the middle lane is clear.

  • People who get passed on the right by several cars and don't realize they're going too damned slow.

  • People who think 150 isn't fast enough.

The 401's got it all!

Fuck the 401.

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835 points·8 days ago

The motherfucking zipper, people. How many asshats either don't anticipate the 1:1 merge or just say "fuck every body" try to squeeze in one fucking space ahead, because that will make a difference. I hate driving because people. I can't wait for driverless cars; it will really help my blood pressure.

Had this happen yesterday. There was an accident and a lane was blocked. Everyone was zippering nicely... Except for the guy next to me. He refused to let me in front of him, so I had to stop and get in behind him. I figured he was just another asshole who was in a big hurry and had to be 1 car ahead. But after the accident and the traffic opened up, he drove about 5 MPH under the speed limit. So he wasn't in a hurry at all. Apparently he was just being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole.

Yeah those type of dicks who won't let anyone in or pull out right in front of you dangerously, always go slow. I don't get it. Perhaps they are just completely oblivious and barely able to drive in a straight line? Usually when I pass them they are furiously gripping the wheel and staring straight ahead.

These are probably the same people that stop 30 feet away from the car in front of them at a light. They also usually move forward a foot every few seconds for maximum obnoxiousness. Drives me nuts when I'm behind them, especially when I'm driving my manual car. But if I don't move, then it looks like I'm the asshole who can't stop at an appropriate distance.

Thissssss. It's especially bad when they are the lead car at a red light and they stop so far away you aren't even sure they triggered to light sensor... I am pretty sure the majority of these types have their face buried in their phone and can't be bothered to come to a proper stop.

People who can't regulate their speed are likely the same. Distracted selfish assholes.

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You would love the Midwest then. The zipper doesn't exist here. It's "I got over 3 miles ago and I'm not going to let anyone cut in front of me at the last second".


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Any time I bring up driverless cars around my older relatives, they always tell me they'd never trust one. "But what if it makes a mistake?"

Motherfucker, have you not been on the road? Half the assholes out there are just chaining mistakes from point A to point B.

This is my argument as well. Even if self driving cars were just 50% safer than humans, I would still jump in one.

I think people don't like not having control over the situation.

A group of engineers put 10s of thousands of hours into analysing traffic and driving and then put that knowledge into computers that react way fucking faster than you.

But no, your 30 years experience driving makes you so much safer...

I read in a book that asked, would you legalize teleportation if it meant a million people die randomly by using it. Then they pointed out that's how many die from car accidents.

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12 points·8 days ago

You know what's even sadder? Driverless cars will be seldom useful for a while, because pretty much the only reason they make mistakes is due to an overwhelming amount of humans making chains of unpredictable mistakes!

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Agreed. The zipper is part of the "predictable behavior" that the article explains is so key to mitigating slowdowns. If people know what is about to happen, they are less likely to brake suddenly.

Now that makes me wonder why the hell nothing has been invented yet that gives other drivers advance warning of any changes you're about to make to your driving behavior. Maybe that's how I get rich.

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Similarly, Vigilante Jim who decides it's his duty to "punish" the people "cutting in line" because they're trying to zipper merge instead of jamming all the traffic into one lane two miles before the merge. Then people in the merging lane have to come to a complete stop, which forces people in the continuing lane to also come to a complete stop to get the zipper started again.

This is the real reason. Traffic should never stop in a merge. Merging earlier than the lane requires ensures that at least one lane will have to stop. Predictability matters above all.

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Original Poster29 points·8 days ago

I completely agree.

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Or people are rubber necking and drive slow by a wreck that is on the opposite side of the interstate.

I almost got in a wreck once because traffic came to a sudden slow down when there was a wreck across the 20 foot median on the other side of the road and people were rubbernecking it.

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My city just installed tall enough Jersey barriers that you can't see the opposing traffic on the parkway. I'd say the biggest benefit for me was no longer being blinded by HIDs/LEDs on trucks.

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I've always heard it stated as "you aren't in traffic, you are traffic."

I try to always remember that whenever I start to get heated that I'm stuck going 2 miles per decade.

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It's mostly caused by cunts who cannot or will not drive properly.

Appropriate gaps and following the rules of the road would eliminate the problem and significantly increase throughput.

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This video explains it better since that gif is stolen from it with zero credits given.

Didn't know it was from a CGP Grey video. Thanks for the clarification! Edited my original comment.

13 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

Didn't know it was from a CGP Grey video

Which makes my point perfectly. Wish that gif had a source in the corner or at the end... If you didn't make the gif (which I presume you didn't) my issue was never with anything you did and also; thanks for adding the source :)

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I25 everyday.

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26 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

The amount of people misspelling brakes/braking as breaks/breaking is impressive

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Looking at you entire Northern Virginia community that slows down when crossing the American Legion Bridge every. single. morning. FOR NO REASON.

Only reasoning I've come up with is that there's troll under the bridge that collects tax out of your soul. He slows down everyone to make sure everyone suffers.

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Comment deleted8 days ago(7 children)

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Yup. People just getting on the freeway from an on ramp going 40mph who cut all the way across to the left lane are the biggest culprits here.

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Friend of my father does this, brakes just before the exit to a highway restaurant, goes in and eats his steak while watching the traffic jam evolve

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For fucks sake don't break on a simple curve, and don't cut someone off just because you missed your exit : Inconvenience yourself for stupidity, not someone else.

I get so upset when people aren't paying attention and end up in a turn-only lane or miss their exit or whatever else, and then they swerve over or sit there with their signal on blocking the lane. You messed up, take your medicine and go where the lane is taking you. You will be able to correct it afterwards. You aren't accidentally turning into the Thunderdome.

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306 points·8 days ago

And the biggest cause of sudden breaking is assholes changing lanes in an attempt to get somewhere 10 seconds faster.

238 points·8 days ago

Or merging onto highway well below average traffic flow speed. Accelerate people, you know what that roads speed limit/common speed is.

Or not holding a consistent speed. Cars behind you have to brake if you wander down to 55 mph, then road-rage when they try to pass and you accelerate back to 80mph. Pick a number and drive it.

157 points·8 days ago

Are you trying to tell me the on-ramp is for accelerating to highway speeds and not choosing what radio station I listen to while picking my nose?

I hate the opposite problem, you're accelerating up to speed and the dude cruising in the right lane decides he should brake.

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There's an on-ramp on my daily commute that has a stop sign at the end of it. Never fails to piss me off. Who in the fuck thought that was a good idea.

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What? You mean you don’t merge 25 miles an hour below the speed limit while simultaneously having your foot on the brake?

Or merging onto highway well below average traffic flow speed. Accelerate people, you know what that roads speed limit/common speed is.

This is going to get me killed one day.

I almost hit someone doing this. I was going the appropriate speed and glancing over to look for traffic and for some reason the fuckhead in front of me thought the end of the ramp was a stop sign. I had to sharply go around him, glaring and honking at him.

Best part was there was NO traffic whatsoever.

I did rear end some once doing exactly this :(

I looked over my shoulder had my gap picked out, and made sure there was another gal ahead for guy in front of me. I look forward to make sure he’s going to shoot the gap, turn to look over my shoulder once more to confirm my opening. And that’s when this guy decided not only to stop but to lock his brakes up and slide to a stop at the end of the ramp....I of course noticed and slammed the brakes but not until it was too late and I slid into him at about 5mph.

This stupid fucker gets out of his car holding his neck like, “ah I’m so injured, I think I might need lifelong reconstructive surgery”. This kid is a greasy 20-something who literally had weed smoke pouring out of his car. I responded kindly by saying, “oh that’s a bummer let me call you an ambulance, double check our insurance papers, and have an officer come out to document this.

The kid immediately freaked out hopped in his car and drove off. So whether or not he was a scammer or an opportunist is really irrelevant. I kind of hope he was intentionally trying to get me to hit him, because at least that would mean he wasn’t so fucking oblivious.

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dude this shit happens non-stop in Michigan. It's terrible. People don't understand taking your foot off the gas.

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Original Poster56 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

TIL Phantom traffic jams (queues of traffic not caused by vehicle collisions or roadworks) are often the result of a single driver braking suddenly, causing each successive car to brake...

What it should have said. Dammit to dammity. Edit: Spelling.

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13 points·8 days ago·edited 8 days ago

Yep, I see them happen all the time. You get one dumbass in the left lane that just kicks their brakes for no reason and it's all fucked.

I call them retard parades. One retard in the lead turns the whole thing into a shitshow.

The perfect storm is a few cars with drivers who schizophrenically kick their brakes followed by a few drivers who accelerate really slow.

I wish there were PSAs about how to drive better on tv. Like don’t ride your brake or allow at least 4 or 5 car lengths in front of you at all times. Try not to jackrabbit and ride everyone’s ass the whole way home and then slam on your brakes. Quit driving like idiots.

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Or some ass hole in the passing lane traveling under the speed limit and leaving football fields of following distance from the cars that are not in front of them.

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And i fucking hate those people. Be smart and don't ride someone's ass and then you won't have to tap your damn brakes every 5 seconds.

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