What Causes Traffic to Occur?

What Causes Traffic to Occur?

Is there anything more frustrating than sitting in a line of traffic that seems to have no end? The minutes start to feel like hours, and you wonder why the cars in front of you don’t just drive! Though it may seem simple, the causes of traffic can often be a little more in-depth.

While traffic jams are annoying, they can also become dangerous, so it’s important to understand why traffic build-up happens, and how they can be avoided. Below, we will provide some insights into the most common and potentially lesser-known causes of traffic build-up. 

Daily congestion

One of the most common reasons why traffic builds up is the daily flow of vehicles, like during rush hour, when a large volume of vehicles hit the roads as people head to and from work, or venture out on the weekends. 

Simply put, in these instances, there are more cars on the road than what it can handle. Even though this type of traffic build-up is highly predictable and common, it’s not easy to avoid while participating in your everyday life. 

Temporary disruptions

On the other hand, there are plenty of disruptions that can back up traffic that aren’t predictable. Temporary disruptions can be caused by accidents, construction, or inclement weather conditions, among others, but regardless of the reason, these types of events frequently cause traffic build-ups. 

Oftentimes in dense traffic, one driver making small changes miles ahead can cause a chain reaction of slowing down and slamming on the breaks for the dozens or hundreds of drivers behind them. This is often referred to as a traffic wave and is a highly complex traffic issue that’s common in major metropolitan areas. 

How to avoid traffic jams

So while it may seem like you don’t have a lot of control over traffic jams and the conditions that cause them, there are a few things you can do as a driver that can help keep the roadways clear and safe. 

For example, car crashes cause nearly 25% of surprise traffic jams. So, being a precautious driver and following the speed limit, staying off your phone, and keeping an appropriate distance between your car and the car in front of you can help you avoid accidents, which can prevent a lengthy traffic jam. 

Even when there is traffic, you can do your best to avoid contributing to these build-ups by learning alternate routes to your daily commute or using apps that provide real-time updates on traffic and road conditions so you can reroute if needed. 

All in all, while there is no simple answer to what causes traffic, there isn’t a simple solution either. So as a driver, the best you can do to prevent traffic build-ups is to avoid accidents by being alert to your surroundings and patient enough to give space between you and other vehicles. This type of driving behavior keeps everyone safe, and traffic more at bay. 

Bailey Schramm is a writer in partnership with Checkworks personal and business checks

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