Transit Trends

#TransitTrends Episode 8: Traffic sucks, so why do we sit in it?

It’s a known fact that bad habits are hard to break. If it was simple, we would never procrastinate, be in incredible shape and accomplish all of the goals we ever set.

The same part of the brain that decides whether or not you’re going to quit smoking also decides whether or not you plan to drive to work or school alone every day in traffic. It’s truly fascinating to be on a crowded street or highway and notice just how many people are driving alone. It’s even more interesting to think about how many of those people could have done something different like hopping on the bus, carpooling, riding a bike or even walking.

The million dollar question in cities across America revolves around why more people neglect to try different transportation options. Perhaps today’s commuters didn’t even consider the numerous options or take the time to research them.

Dr. Bob Duke and Dr. Art Markman sat down with Transit Trends host, Erica Brennes, to take a deeper dive into the brains behind traffic. The duo are professors at The University Of Texas at Austin, and recently wrote the book Brain Briefs.

What is your commuting behavior like? Do you ever break the single occupancy vehicle habit? If so, let us know by leaving a comment on this video.

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Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.


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Traffic jams often come from shock waves that start when someone hits their brakes. The faster the traffic, the bigger the gaps, and the more abrupt the braking. The effect of breaking works its way back down through the traffic, and the many stops have a reinforcing negative effect on the queue, which ultimately causes even more congestion.