Cars on a highway
Photo/Myriam Thyes

Idea for solving traffic jams

Ease traffic congestion by getting rid of traffic waves.

We would have our cars tell us a specific speed to drive when doing so temporarily would clear out traffic waves and let us speed back up to normal for the road.

Let’s say that traffic waves are causing an average speed of 25mph on a highway where the speed limit is 65mph. If you can get most people to drive 15mph for a few minutes, it will clear out the traffic waves and you’ll be back up to 50+mph in no time.

There have been previous attempts to get at this problem, such as roads with variable speed limits directed by electronic signs. Such solutions have been only marginally effective; people find them confusing and the fixed locations of these roads associate them with speed traps.

What has changed? Timing, convenience, cost. Our devices and networks are now fast enough to put this in each vehicle. Location information is more precise. People are used to getting driving information from screens. Many already have a screen set up.

The only information this system would display onscreen for each vehicle is the ideal speed to drive, when useful and where available.

Enough participants would be needed to control the flow of traffic for people who are out of signal or who aren’t participating.

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