Drive like a sheep, and you get stuck. Break some rules here and there for the good of traffic flow, and everyone benefits. A new traffic study by physicists at Sweden's Umea University found that while we're all taught to obey the traffic rules no matter what, doing so just makes for bottlenecks. Mix in some maverick drivers, however, and suddenly, logjams begin to ease as the percentage of drivers willing to pass on the right or zip past a pack of trundling cars on a two-lane actually help to keep the traffic flowing smoothly.
While you might take the findings as an endorsement of behind-the-wheel jerkdom, chill out there for a second, Rat Fink. Tailgating, a behavior many impatient motorists exhibit, creates rolling platoons of cars without enough following distance to effectively brake if need be. In other words, while it's occasionally beneficial to sidestep the letter of the law, following too closely creates potential pile-ups. The ideal ratio seems to be 60-percent lemmings, 40-percent speed-addled free thinkers. That sounds like research we can put into practice pretty much immediately, though it's going to be a flimsy argument in traffic court.

[Source: PhysicsBuzz | Photo:biblicone (CC 2.0)]

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