If you’re driving somewhere this Labor Day weekend, there’s a good chance you’ll run into a “phantom traffic jam” — a highway slowdown for no apparent reason.READ MORE: 2 Off-Duty Philadelphia Police Officers Robbed At Gunpoint In Oxford Circle
KYW’s Mike DeNardo reports a Temple University researcher has studied this phenomenon.
It’s no one’s fault, says Temple math professor Benjamin Seibold. At high traffic volumes, any small disturbance in traffic flow can trigger a ripple-effect of drivers hitting the brakes, creating what he calls a “phantom traffic jam”:
“There’s no outside reason for those traffic jams. There’s no obstacle on the road. There’s no car in the breakdown lane. They’re an instability in the traffic flow, so they can occur without any visible reasons.”READ MORE: Delaware Division Of Public Health Announces Vaccine Providers Can Start Administering COVID-19 Booster Shots
And the wave can travel backward for miles, and spawn successive waves.
Seibold says individual drivers can mitigate the effects by driving less aggressively and leaving a little more distance from the car in front — assuming another driver doesn’t cut into that space you just created.
MORE NEWS: Resource Center Opens In Bucks County For Residents, Businesses Affected By Ida
(File photo by KYW’s John Ostapkovich)