What causes traffic?
Presenter, The Weather Network
Friday, July 5, 2013, 9:45 AM - Traffic. It’s a phenomenon that is actually quite easy to understand and possible to fix! However, day in and day out drivers across the world are stuck in traffic delays. What’s the cause? Let’s go through the reasons.
Unfortunately drivers create traffic. Traffic needs a synchronized flow in order to endlessly move at the same pace. When one person decides to slow down to look at their GPS, change a lane or switch the radio station it forces all the cars behind to slow. People will hit the back of the jam before the cars in front can leave the slow stretch. Hence, traffic is created.
2. Visual distractions
Drivers are easily distracted. Throw a car fire on the highway or half a dump truck on a major road into the mix and everyone is slowing down to take a look. In the Travelers Network studio we see tons of visual distractions along the major routes, frequently being the cause for delays. Common visual distractions are car fires, crashes and pedestrians on the side of the highway.
3. Over capacity
A highway is designed to hold a specific number of cars in a given amount of time. The Don Valley Parkway in Toronto has an intended capacity of 60,000 cars per day with an even flow of cars oncoming and exiting the route. When this number is exceeded or there is a sudden burst of volume throughout a given time, there is physically not enough room to hold all the vehicles. Rush hour is a prime example of over capacity. The main culprit of the delays is the sheer amount of volume in a given area at the same time. Over capacity equals overtime in the car.
All we need is one driver to lose control, change lanes without looking or speed into the car in front of them and we have a real traffic mess. Collisions frequently block active lanes bringing traffic behind the scene to a halt. As drivers try to dive out of the closed lanes, secondary collisions can occur. If a collision is fatal or difficult to clean up, officials may need to close that stretch of the highway, intersection or street.
Construction is the heaviest in the summer with an average of 1450 lane closures from May to October. Lane restrictions sometimes call for rerouting a street or highway and detours can cause major delays. The majority of construction is kept to the overnight hours, since just one closed off ramp during rush hour can cause quite the jam.
We have a lovely variety of weather in Canada, however at times it has a negative impact on the drive. Whiteouts, thunderstorms, dense fog and strong winds all slow down commuters and create traffic. Poor weather conditions bring low visibility and slippery roads which can be hard for even experienced drivers to cope with.