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CAR WAVE-CONGESTION AVOIDED BY WATCHING YOUR "SIX"

Historians traditionally tell us that to ignore history is to repeat its pitfalls. So how can history help us improve the flow of car traffic? Did you know that many aspects of the world’s legal systems come from biblical origins using tried and true fundamental laws originating from the Ten Commandments? The concept of “watching your six” borrows from these universally accepted laws, whose credo stipulates guidelines for human interaction as well as interaction with god. Your "six" refers to the driver behind you whom you should treat as you would yourself. With this in mind, we have a new credo for today’s need to interact with each other by driving your car responsibly through high density traffic to avoid “wave congestion". This term is used to describe isolated packs of cars suddenly causing a local slow-down in traffic flow, while both upstream and downstream traffic continues to still move well, and so our rule states:

 

“Drivers are responsible for the immediate driver behind them, keeping him safe and avoiding unnecessary braking”

 

 How This Rule Works In traffic:

1)            The Rule is Expansive, All Inclusive and Saves Us Money

If we followed this general rule, we would become responsible for leaving the proper space/time ahead of the car in front of us. Space clearly gives us reasonable reaction time to perhaps "brake by simply coasting" and not force the driver behind us to suddenly brake hard. It will help us to recognize that the proper spacing between cars is not an open invitation to dart between lanes just to get ahead by one car length. This causes “wave congestion” and the possibility of accidents during heavy traffic situations. It assures that braking is something one does as a "last resort" and only when no other circumstance for safety and/or avoiding a collision is available. It holds the “rubber-necker” responsible for maintaining good traffic flow or get ticketed. The rule encourages a driver to adapt the techniques of defensive driving so as to avoid accidents, and to embrace the proper social skills of driver etiquette to mitigate road rage and its associated erratic driving behavior. Ultimately, the rule will financially help us to reduce our car insurance costs by promoting fewer negligence accidents.

2)            Eliminate Reactive Braking … Trust the Driver In Front of You

Keep in mind what normally happens in heavy traffic when the first driver uses their brakes either in idle thoughtlessness or in protective response to traffic congestion ahead. Under these circumstances, we reactively use our brakes for two reasons:

 a)   Reduced Reaction Time  - The first car’s brake lights go on, giving us less time to react so we over compensate by braking harder than him. This affect gets compounded, causing each subsequent upstream driver to brake still harder, until the reactive braking time becomes impossible to respond to and a collision or multiple collisions occur.

 b)   We Don’t Trust Other Drivers  -  We are conditioned not to trust our fellow drivers because they haven’t yet been educated to abide by our Rule. This lack of trust causes us to drive "overly" cautious and results in the over use of our brakes to defend ourselves. Our driving habits have created a psychological situation just waiting for an accident.

3)            Implies Driving Etiquette that Must Become Required Driver’s Education

The rule and its derivatives must be taught as part of our driver’s education program, and their concepts definitely reviewed during the licensing exam. The Rule also includes adherence to a driver’s code of etiquette which goes beyond just obeying our basic traffic laws of vehicle safety as is currently done. Highways are becoming too congested to allow rouge drivers to ignore their “social” driving responsibilities and the etiquette of the road.  Traffic tickets for abusing social driving etiquette should be as prolific and costly as our traffic laws for speeding and/or not stopping at a stop sign, etc.

4)            Compliments Our Near Term Use of Self-Controlled Vehicles

Our Rule intrinsically implies the responsibility for social driving etiquette and takes us forward with steps that avoid future traffic congestion.  Improvements will come from technological automation which will eventually take the erratic human factor out of our equation to produce the smooth flow of traffic even during congested periods. Something as simple as today’s cruise control helps us to avoid “wave congestion” by maintaining a constant highway speed plus reducing inadvertent “brake riding” which sends the wrong message to the driver behind us.  Our ultimate step towards smooth traffic flow involves using near-term technology that completely eliminates drivers and relies on self-controlled vehicles taking over within regions of high density traffic. Ideally this will eliminate traffic accidents due to the unpredictability of driver shortcomings, making technological glitches our only possible area of concern in the near future. Google, in cooperation with the state of California, is currently in the process of introducing such vehicles onto the state’s roadways.


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