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-   -   Cancelling out traffic waves (

botsapper 01-22-2010 09:06 PM

Cancelling out traffic waves
Just about to dive into the usual commute home, when I found this interesting site. An engineer made an observation in his own commute home. He 'saw' the exact analogy of simple fluid dynamics with all the other cars around him. He experimented by being a 'lubricant' to the usual stop-&-go dynamics. Using best judgment & observation he kept his vehicle at a deliberately slower but 'steady' rate of speed to uniformly distribute the flow of his car lane. There maybe a large gap but he avoided the intermittent use of brakes, but he helped maintain a more efficient rate for his lane.

Might get some frustrated overtakers & tailgaters (LA traffic) but I'll give it a try tonite.

Frank Lee 01-22-2010 09:12 PM

I do that but it's nearly impossible to impact anything other than a really small "local" flow territory, as around here, as soon as you're not tailgating, recreational lane-switchers push into that space.... causing you to be tailgating. Oh well, my vehicle's movement is "fluid" anyway. :rolleyes:

Lazarus 01-22-2010 09:19 PM

This is before the video. It has lots of interesting stuff on it. I said it before I really think there should PSA announcements on this stuff. Or at least cover it in Drivers ED. The lane jumpers and brake stomper and not let you in will always kill the flow.

luvit 01-22-2010 09:44 PM

i'm absolutely amazed on my daily driving route how many people drive behind me. i think they know the light patterns too, that's why they patiently glide with me.

RobertSmalls 01-22-2010 10:56 PM

I try to save the guy behind me gas, whether he knows it or not. This includes not cutting people off, but also coasting up to red lights and smoothing out traffic waves. It also means accelerating quickly away from a light that just turned green if another driver is growing rapidly larger in your rear view mirror. If there's a bottleneck in the road, try to get as many cars through as quickly as possible. I feel this means driving quickly and following closely, but within the range of what is safe, of course.

I deliberately change into a lane when the distance between cars there is on the rise, and I never merge into contracting flow. So if you're cancelling out a wave, I will jump in front of you while the wave is expanding.

botsapper 01-22-2010 11:41 PM

Well the experiment took me out of my automatic 'lizard brain' as I drove home. I was more actively aware of the red rear lights at least 4 vehicles ahead. By studying these four 'rubberband' with each other, I adjusted accordingly. Aware of the LA driving style, my front gap was not wide enough at first but then I adjusted longer gaps that I no longer have to tap the brakes. Overtakers only appeared when we merge with more interchanges. Most interesting & fortunate, there was a Honda Accord driver behind me, conveniently stayed behind me with a comfortable distance, for about half our commute distance. We were at the #2 lane, yet we were comfortably moving along.
At the beginning it was slightly stressful, as I was accessing too much situational info but I settled down & the flow was much smoother.
My immediate observation is that I was really mimicking the maintained & lower speeds of long-haul trucks...plenty of spatial distances yet steady flow.
A new commuting style.

Piwoslaw 01-23-2010 03:59 AM


Originally Posted by RobertSmalls (Post 156112)
I try to save the guy behind me gas, whether he knows it or not.

This doesn't always work, as there are jerks who keep aggresively accelerating and braking, instead of driving smoothly, even though they have no chance of passing.

Maybe ecodrivers should have flashing lights and a sign in the back saying:

Traffic wave cancellation lead car.
Follow at safe distance. Do not pass.

NiHaoMike 01-23-2010 01:59 PM

What if there was a group of hypermilers doing "wave cancellation" in each lane such that they cannot be passed?

MadisonMPG 01-23-2010 02:16 PM


Originally Posted by NiHaoMike (Post 156182)
What if there was a group of hypermilers doing "wave cancellation" in each lane such that they cannot be passed?

A secondary wave would result. It only takes on person slowing down to start a huge wave.

Arragonis 01-25-2010 09:38 AM

I saw that video a few weeks ago (the first one about waves) and started to leave gaps to cancel out the waves - I was adjusting the nut behind the wheel anyway.

I have two spots on my daily grind to do this. One spot is where traffice from one motorway merges onto the road I'm already on. I tap "merge" but what of course I mean is that everyone joining the road seemingly has to IMMEDIATELY DART INTO THE OUTSIDE LANE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, whether or not there is anyone (e.g. me) there. :eek:

Although its frustrating to be stuck behind some muppet in a BMW 318, engine screaming as his "ultimate driving machine" fights the laws of physics to gather momentum, the satisfying payback for this comes about 1/2 a mile further up the road. At this point the road climbs quite steeply and the traffic all now congregated into the outside lane starts to back up in waves. And I just cruise past on the usually empty inside lane.

As well as not havign the frustration of stopping in a wave I also don't lose speed I have to make up later, so I save FE.

As for helping others save FE I've kind of given up. If I try to break the waves then I just end up with another muppet an inch or so from my tailgate. Pretty pointless as I now subscribe to the "sharp acceleration back to speed" principle so they end up being left behind a lot.

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