Traffic physics

I once had a boss whose area of expertise was traffic physics, but he was working in a medical center.  How you ask? Because he applied the equations relating to cars in traffic to medical problems that are very similar, such as red blood cells in capillaries.  I am not making this up (my imagination is not that good).  It is well known that once someone gets behind the wheel of a car their personality changes.  It is because they can’t help it, they are now subject to the laws of physics, its beyond their control.  If I could summarize his findings for you I would describe them like this.

Cars abhor a vacuum.  If there is a space ahead of them cars race in to fill that space.  Actually its the drivers who abhor allowing any space ahead of them, they have a need to fill that space, and so they speed into any space that opens up.  This is known as the driver inadequacy principle (think about it).

Cars are attracted to each other.  Cars, or rather drivers, because they are usually alone, feel the need for intimate contact, so they try to put their cars so close that they could actually touch, and sometimes they do.  In this case the equations of magnetism apply.  Of course when both are going at high speed cars look to each other as if they are stationary, and drivers tend to forget that they are not.  This is called the driver intimacy principle.

The other lanes are always going faster than mine.  When cars are in different lanes, there is a psychological effect that makes every driver think that the other lanes are going faster than his own.  This is not actually true, but drivers are only human.  As a result cars switch lanes in order to get ahead of their neighbors.    Drivers who have this problem badly are known as suicidal.  This is called the driver ambition principle.

Drivers have extraordinary capabilities once they are behind the wheel, such as the ability to multi-task.  It is not unknown for drivers to be able to drive, read the paper, make a phone call and swear at his neighbor all at the same time.  This usually happens just before a crash.  It is known as the driver enhancement principle.

Parking is a special skill and drivers who drive well are not necessarily able to park.  It has been statistically proven that female drivers show a distinct inability to park.  It is thought that this is due to their inability to comprehend the reflection in the car’s mirrors.  This is known as the reflection disability effect.

Not all driver’s are equal.  Finally, we must face this fact.   The equations must be modified to take account of this fact. Some drivers are naturally wimps and actually allow their neighbor driver to get ahead of them or pass them.   Unfortunately the equations of physics break down in face of such an unpredictable factor.  This is known as the female driver effect or the driver wimp factor.

Now that you are equipped with a scientific understanding of traffic behavior, go out there and drive safely, otherwise known as the give them hell principle.




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