[NetBehaviour] Shockwave traffic jam recreated for first time.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Mar 5 17:00:20 CET 2008

Shockwave traffic jam recreated for first time.

NewScientist - Max Glaskin.

Traffic that grinds to a halt and then restarts for no apparent reason 
is one of the biggest causes of frustration for drivers. Now a team of 
Japanese researchers has recreated the phenomenon on a test-track for 
the first time.

The mathematical theory behind these so-called "shockwave" jams was 
developed more than 15 years ago using models that show jams appear from 
nowhere on roads carrying their maximum capacity of free-flowing traffic 
– typically triggered by a single driver slowing down.

After that first vehicle brakes, the driver behind must also slow, and a 
shockwave jam of bunching cars appears, travelling backwards through the 

The theory has frequently been modelled in computer simulations, and 
seems to fit with observations of real traffic, but has never been 
recreated experimentally until now.


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