Polite drivers ‘make traffic jams worse’

Traffic jams. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Traffic jams. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Drivers who are too polite are the cause of lengthy traffic jams, particularly when faced with roadworks or lane closures.

Research by one of the Capital scientist, Dr Guy Walker, found traffic jams can be up to 20 per cent worse because drivers are overly polite.

Dr Walker, the Associate Professor in Human Factors with Heriot-Watt University’s Institute for Infrastructure and Environment, has been working with the Scottish Road Research Board and SIAS Transport Planners Ltd, to analyse drivers’ behaviour and find novel solutions to major traffic jams.

He said, “The majority of drivers, when confronted with roadworks ahead, quickly move into the nearside lane as early as possible rather than merge at the forefront of the queue. No-one wants to be seen by fellow drivers as the type of person who pushes in. This behaviour, however, leads to the loss of a further lane of capacity.”