Traffic Jam Physics
Sometimes, when you get caught in a traffic jam in Texas, the jam seems to suddenly clear up out of nowhere and there doesn't seem to be any reason for the jam anywhere in sight. This happens because when an incident occurs where a car has to stop abruptly, whether it's just momentarily to avoid a collision or a major accident, once the obstruction is moved and traffic can move again. Also, consider that not everyone in the traffic jam can move all at once.
Each person who had to stop, or slow down, for the incident that caused the traffic jam has to wait until there's a safe distance between them and the car ahead of them before accelerating. This is an example of the physics of driving.
There are times when a traffic jam occurs because two lanes merge into a single lane and drivers in both lanes are driving too close together. For instance, on a two-lane road where the left lane is ending and traffic must merge into the right lane, if drivers are driving too close together then drivers in the left lane aren't able to merge until the lane actually ends. This becomes an issue for the drivers in the right lane who are essentially forced to let the oncoming traffic into the right lane. Now drivers in the right lane must slow down to the same speed or slower than the drivers in the left lane. If drivers in both lanes were driving with the appropriate distances apart, the left lane could merge into the right lane without any of the drivers having to slow down, thus avoiding the traffic jam entirely.
When it comes to having to stop a vehicle, a vehicle's weight affects how long it takes for it to come to a complete stop. The heavier the vehicle, the greater the distance it takes for it to stop. In instances of 18-wheeler trucks carrying loads, the inertia can cause the load to continue moving forward and wrap around to the side of the truck, blocking multiple lanes, and possibly causing the load and truck to flip and/or rollover.
If you have to change lanes and you're going to be in front of a large vehicle, be sure to give the vehicle plenty of room just in case you have to stop suddenly. The extra space between you and the large vehicle gives both drivers time to stop if necessary.
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