Jerk Drivers Reduce Traffic Jams, Study Shows

It’s hard to believe that driving like e jerk is helping the traffic flow, but a new study conducted by physicists at Sweden's Umea University is confirming it. So, the next time you see someone that cuts you off, you might want to thank him.

"The interesting finding is that if most of the people are law-abiding, and you have a certain amount of people who are breaking the rule, then you are actually getting the minimum chance of a [traffic] jam," said Petter Minnhagen, a physicist at Sweden's Umea University and an author of the paper published in the journal Physical Review E.

This phenomenon while constructing a computer model of how a crowd of people move across a confined space, such as a pedestrian-only street, Physics Buzz via Auto Blog reported. They divided the space into squares, like a chessboard, and randomly placed pedestrians in some of the squares.

The researchers then tossed a few mavericks into the mix, who didn't follow the rules the other pedestrians used. The simulation was run over and over, and as more and more rule-breakers joined the fray, the physicians discovered that traffic flowed best when only about 60 percent of pedestrians were obeying the rules.

However, there is one rule you shouldn't break. Cecile Appert-Rolland, a physicist at the University of Paris-Sud, looked at the tailing distances between cars traveling on a busy two-lane expressway in the suburbs of Paris.

"We can identify at least seven or eight cars where they have time headways of half a second. Considering that a driver's reaction time is about one second, these platoons are disastrous pileups waiting to happen. If the first one brakes, the second one has to brake harder, the third one even harder, and the last wouldn't be able to brake hard enough," Dr. Appert-Rolland said.
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