As any driver will tell you, there is nothing worse than being stuck in a traffic jam. But a road expert thinks he may have a solution that could end them forever.
Japanese professor Katsuhiro Nishinari, who studies the mathematics of traffic jams, a discipline he calls "jamology," says that an anti-intuitive rule could end bottlenecks forever.
The average Sydney driver spends 156 hours stuck in traffic every year, but traffic would move faster if people slow down, said Mr Nishinari, who is in Melbourne for a Transportation and Tourism Summit.
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The average driver in Sydney spends 156 hours in traffic every year
Traffic expert Katsuhiro Nishinari (pictured) says he has a simple rule to eliminate congestion
Nishinari said that Australian drivers could learn a lot from ants, telling news.com.au that "ants never have traffic jams."
The reason is because the ants usually do not stop moving.
If people allowed only an extra second of distance between the cars, the extra six-meter gap between them would eliminate the need to tread roughly, Nishinari said.
He says that if drivers only put an extra space of a second between them and the car in front of them, the traffic jams could be completely eliminated.
"It's counterintuitive, but if we reduce speed, it makes the flow faster, slower is faster, that's the big point of the jamologist," he said.
He put his theory to the test on the busiest highway in Tokyo, asking eight cars to slow down and keep the same speed along the Shuto Highway.
With a slower but steady speed, a traffic jam did not appear for 40 minutes, he said.
Recent surveys indicate that Australian drivers believe that accelerating is a bit beyond the limit. Pictured: rush hour traffic on the Sydney Harbor Bridge, with some closed lanes
But Australians like to go fast, he said.
Australian drivers accelerate and constantly change lanes when someone in front of them brakes, causing traffic to build up.
A recent survey by NSW Roads and Maritime Services revealed that most drivers think speeding is acceptable.
Men justify speeding because they believe they are safe drivers, while women accelerate because others around them are traveling over the limit.