Phantom Traffic Jams: An Urban Mystery Exposed

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Traffic is a common component of daily life for many Americans. And with traffic comes the traffic jam: an infuriating phenomenon in which traffic comes to a slow crawl or a dead stop.

Many times, a traffic jam has an obvious explanation: construction, an accident, or hazardous weather. But all too often, traffic jams occur with no evident explanation.

This type of congestion is referred to as a phantom traffic jam, an umbrella term covering a handful of theories. These theories range from simple economic explanations to more complex mathematical concepts.

We explore these theories, what you can do to help alleviate traffic, and what the future has in store for traffic management in our animated infographic.

 


 

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It’s very possible that in the near future traffic congestion will be a thing the millennials will gripe about to their grandchildren in an “I remember when” monologue. But until then, practicing defensive driving is the best thing you can do to help alleviate traffic around you.

Consider brushing up on your defensive driving by taking a course at your local driving school or online, and be sure to check that your insurance is up-to-date and your car has undergone all of its timely check-ups.

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Susan Meyer photo
Susan MeyerSenior Editorial Manager

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebra a year. She currently specializes in producing research-focused content for The Zebra's Resource Center on topics related to auto and home insurance, personal finance and smarter living in the 21st century.

Susan's work has been cited by the Insurance Information Institute, State Farm, BuzzfeedCBS, Yahoo, Entrepreneur and Business Insider.