Video Explains Why Traffic Happens and How We Can Fix It

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  • We’re big fans of informational YouTuber CGP Grey here at What’s Trending. He’s a pretty smart guy, having taught us what makes us angry, the differences between British and English, and more. We even wrote up a parody of his work. His latest video is lighting up the internet, in part because it’s awesome, and in part because it’s about something we can all relate to: traffic.

    When most of us are on a traffic-laden road, we assume that things are going slow because of 1. some kind of accident, or 2. because other drivers are idiots. As CGP Grey explains, though, that isn’t always the case. Traffic can persist long past the point of its original cause, because drivers are human and have imperfect reactions to the road ahead of them. They slow down too quickly, accelerate too slowly, and cause what CGP Grey calls “traffic snakes” — snarls that usually swallow cars up faster than they spit them out.

    Luckily, there’s a solution. CGP Grey starts by suggesting that we all share this video with our friends so they learn the best practice of staying right in the middle of the car ahead of them and the car behind them… but quickly pulls back. People aren’t going to just spontaneously change their behavior en masse because of a YouTube video, even a mega-popular one. (Especially not here in LA, where people tend to view the roads as their personal autobahns, and other cars as strange, intangible mirages.)

    No, the real solution is simpler, and doesn’t require you to do a damn thing. CGP Grey’s answer is self-driving cars. Completely safe, market-ready self-driving cars are years (maybe decades) away. But when they finally arrive, they’ll be able to sense the flow of traffic and automatically adjust to changing conditions. Once human drivers are eliminated (no, not in the Soylent Green sense), traffic will be optimized. CGP Grey even goes so far as to say that intersections may no longer be necessary, as they’re just signals for human drivers.

    Here’s hoping we’re all still alive when self-driving cars take over, and also that they don’t create Skynet.

    What do you think? Will you change your driving habits because of this video? Let us know in the comments below or @WhatsTrending on Twitter!