Traffic jams - what does it mean to 'spread the jam?'

Written by Rina Capila

Spread the jam

What does it mean? And how can you help?

Most drivers have, at some point, found themselves stuck in a traffic jam. Whether you are driving to work in the morning, going on a weekend holiday, or heading to the local shopping mall, you may suddenly end up in a line of cars crawling to reach your destination.

No one likes to be stuck in traffic, but what exactly causes a traffic jam?

Traffic jams usually happen due to the ripple effect from drivers braking too much. When one driver has has to brake suddenly, the driver behind them has too as well, and the driver behind them, and so on. This causes a sticky situation where at least 5 cars behind the first driver have come to a sudden stop causing traffic to back up further.

But you can help spread the jam!

Every driver learns how to spread the jam, or in other words, learns how to keep traffic moving safely and smoothly. However, many drivers may not fully understand how it helps so keep reading to find out more.

Keep a safe following distance!

Every driver has heard this saying over and over again, from when you started learning to drive to the signs on the motorway when it’s raining. But how does this help spread the jam?

A safe following distance of 2-4 seconds means you have time to slow down safely instead of braking suddenly. If you don’t brake suddenly, the driver behind you won’t, and the driver behind them too, and you can stop the ripple effect from happening.

Keep your eyes on the road!

When you are behind the wheel, you should always focus on the driving and the road ahead. This means not checking your phone, looking in your bag, or staring at something else like a crash.

When you are distracted, you are likely to cause traffic jams by braking suddenly or causing a crash. This can lead to costly repairs. Also, if you are caught on your phone while driving, you face a large fine and lose demerit points.

Indicate and merge like a zip!

When changing lanes or turning, it is always important to indicate you intentions. This will help other drivers know when to slow down to allow you to merge or turn in safely.

If you do not indicate and simply merge into a gap, the driver behind you will have to brake suddenly to increase their following distance again. This will cause the ripple effect, making the traffic jam worse.

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