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Pretty much anyone of us that lives in a big city anywhere in the world has come across a phantom traffic jam. Basically a traffic jam that just appeared out of nowhere with no accident, lane closure, road construction to cause the traffic jam. You wait and wait to see what caused the traffic jam then all of a sudden everything clears up. Some ridiculously smart guys have come up with an actual equation on how and why this happens. Their equation and explanation are in the link below.



Equation: Factors for Predicting Phantom Traffic Jams | Magazine
 

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It probably doesn't even have to be that much. Maybe just someone cutting in front of someone else, who has to jam on the brakes which starts the whole thing. All it probably needs to sustain the backup is a merge lane or something.
 

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It probably doesn't even have to be that much. Maybe just someone cutting in front of someone else, who has to jam on the brakes which starts the whole thing. All it probably needs to sustain the backup is a merge lane or something.
youre right. i always see pretty bad backup near merge lanes. it always seems to bottle neck there. then right after it speeds up a bit past the merge lane.
 
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