Saturday 3 April 2010

Just one bad driver causes tailbacks

They appear from out of nowhere, cause chaos for hours on end then disappear without a trace. They are the 'phantom traffic jams' and they have the power to completely ruin a bank holiday. Yesterday it was revealed that phantom traffic jams - queues of stationary cars that develop for no apparent reason - can be caused by the actions of just one driver.

Dr Eddie Wilson, from the University of Bristol, unveiled research showing that, under the right conditions, one individual's bad driving can create 'a traffic tsunami which can affect traffic up to 50 miles away'. 'The record phantom jam was about 50 miles long - the entire M6 from Birmingham to the Lake District was stop-go the whole way.'

The findings did not surprise Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, who suggested that drivers may be able arrive at their destination faster if they travel slower.

He said:
'There is a real benefit if you can get people going at a constant 50mph rather than stopping and starting at 70mph. We are finding that if you slow cars down you get better fuel economy and faster journey times.'