There are four billion hours of travel delays in America each year, contributing to pollution, fossil fuel waste, and costing us all money—an estimated 87.2 billion dollars. Not to mention traffic is just plain annoying! But is there a solution to your traffic woes?
Traffic is often due to construction, an accident, or bottlenecks created by on-ramps and tunnels. But do you ever feel like congestion just seems to appear for no reason? You aren't imagining it. In a 2008 experiment, drivers were instructed to drive along a circular road, following the car in front of them while trying to maintain a constant speed. As the participants drove, they started to have fluctuations in the speed. These fluctuations increased, eventually causing cars to stop completely, which broke the free flow and led to traffic jams without any added factors.
塞車常是因為施工、事故，或匝道和隧道造成的狹窄路段。但你是否曾覺得塞車好像沒來由地就出現了？那不是你的想像。在一項 2008 年的實驗中，駕駛們被指示沿著一條環狀道路行駛，跟隨前方車輛同時試著保持固定速度。參與者行駛時，他們的速度開始有變動。這些變動增加，最終造成車輛完全停止，那破壞順暢交通，並在沒有任何額外因素加入的狀況下導致塞車。
Researchers compare traffic jams to the particles in a liquid and a solid. Moving cars are like the free-flowing particles in a liquid but can undergo a phase transition to that of a compacted solid. Once the particles, or cars, reach a critical density, gridlock happens. One of the key reasons gridlock happens is our inability to maintain a constant speed. When a traffic break happens, most accelerate to catch up to the vehicle ahead, resulting in eventual braking that forces the drivers behind to slow down, only causing the jam to grow.
When you're in a traffic jam, you're a part of the problem. Studies show that 80 to 90 percent of drivers think they're better than the average driver, which is...impossible. Additionally, as humans, our attention is selective, and we tend to forget that other drivers are people too—kind of like commenting online, we can dehumanize other drivers in ways we wouldn't face to face. This leads to jerks on the road—following too closely or constantly changing lanes—which contributes directly to the congestion that creates traffic jams.
Thankfully, as the good driver you are, you can make a difference. Pay attention to the car ahead and behind you to keep a buffer of space around you. This way, if the driver in front of you brakes, you have room to slow down and won't pass the braking tension along the chain of traffic.
Drive slower. Set your car to cruise control to try driving at a consistent speed. In Belgium and the Netherlands, there's a technique implemented at times of high volume known as "block driving," where a chain of cars drive at a consistent speed to help others keep pace. Police have also used this strategy for 15 years, driving at an appropriate pace in groups to keep the flow of traffic moving.
Of course, the advent of autonomous self-driving cars will see automobiles that are able to connect and communicate with one another, vehicle to vehicle, and is expected to reduce traffic jams significantly. Additionally, researchers are using biologically inspired algorithms to reduce travel times. In one study, researchers applied a model based on ant travel behavior as a way to route traffic. Changes in infrastructure work, too. Recently, Los Angeles became the first city to synchronize every street light, causing lights to make automatic adjustments based on flow, which has reduced travel time by 14 percent. Traffic aside, another solution is taking public transit when possible. An MIT study of Boston traffic found that if one percent of current drivers took transit, everyone's commute will be reduced by 18 percent.
Of course, companies like Toyota, who supported this episode, are finding new ways to address mobility challenges, developing future technologies to interconnect drivers and vehicles with road infrastructure. Toyota is launching their new Corolla iM Hatchback with the Toyota Safety Sense technologies like pre-collision systems, automatic high beams, and lane departure alert, all of which will be standard and launching across Canada this September. They also have a goal to produce vehicles with zero emissions by 2050, which is something we really support.
當然，一些像 Toyota 這樣的公司，Toyota 贊助本集節目，都正在尋找解決移動困難的新方法，研發未來科技來讓駕駛與車輛和道路基礎建設互相連結。Toyota 目前推出搭載 Toyota 主動式安全防護系統科技的全新 Corolla iM 斜背型汽車，配備像是撞擊預警系統、自動遠光燈以及車道偏離警示，這全會是標準配備，而且今年九月會在加拿大全面推出。Toyota 還有一個在 2050 年前生產零排放汽車的願景，那是件我們樂見其成的事。
So, special thanks to Toyota for supporting our channel and being a leader in the science and technology space. And subscribe for more weekly science videos!
那麼，特別感謝 Toyota 支持我們的頻道，並在科技界作為一位領導者。訂閱以收看更多每週科學影片!
- 「促成、導致」- Contribute To
There are four billion hours of travel delays in America each year, contributing to pollution, fossil fuel waste, and costing us all money...
- 「更不必說」- Not To Mention
Not to mention traffic is just plain annoying!
- 「因為、由於」- Due To
Traffic is often due to construction, an accident, or bottlenecks created by on-ramps and tunnels.
- 「趕上」- Catch Up
When a traffic break happens, most accelerate to catch up to the vehicle ahead...