Here's something we wish every highway planner was required to use any time they had a bright idea (like those darned roundabouts they're so fond of calling "rotarys" here in Massachusetts!). This neat little Java-powered (much like us AutoBloggers!) website allows you to adjust and model traffic flows on a variety of road conditions. The Dresden University Institute for Economics and Traffic has made quite a study of traffic dynamics, and this website is just part of a larger study of where those pointless standstills for nothing come from. The microsimulation of traffic flow appears to treat traffic as a "fluid" and working the variables allows you to see how you could use traffic density to control speed limits, passing and light cycling.
It'd be great if more attention could be paid to maximizing the efficiency of the infrastructure we've already got. Sure, we need a new infrastructure to go along with the massive volume in some areas, but some thought and calculations would go a long way in smoothing out the flow on existing roads. There's lots of information and different simulations at your fingertips here. We don't pretend to understand all of it, but it looks like just a little bit of this deeper thinking would go a long way to alleviating the pressure on our backsides every morning. Very cool little toy, bring your slide rule!
Thanks for the tip, mfridman!