If you have ever wondered how traffic jams work, like how cars can get backed up when there is no accident at all, there is a new simulator out there that will let you create your own traffic jams! These unexplainable clogs in traffic flow can be pretty frustrating to the daily commuter who needs to get to that next meeting. This circular traffic simulator was designed by Martin Treiber, from the Dresden University of Technology in Germany, according to Gizmodo. The point of the simulation was to help people understand how traffic jams can occur, and show the varying effects from things like a slow car in the middle lane or other traffic problems.
If you want to give the simulator a try, you can check it out here. It is actually a lot more scientific than you are probably thinking, as you can adjust tons of different variables, even up to the percentage of trucks on the road, and the effect isn't always obvious. Some of the most important variables for preventing and understanding traffic flows are the density of cars and the speed of the road. Increased speed decreases reaction time, and increased density means there is less freedom of places the drivers can go to avoid problems.
Besides being able to take out your frustration on virtual cars by forcing them to be stuck in a circular traffic jam, you can actually learn a lot about the math behind traffic, and the engineering that goes into road design. All of the formulas and algorithms for the project are available on the right side of the page here if you want to check them out.
You would think that having cars drive in a circle would create a perfect continuous flow, but when you do the experiment in real life, a traffic jam always occurs. This is because there is a maximum density of cars at which traffic can flow smoothly. Go above that, and you have headaches for all of the drivers.
Written by Trevor English