How to Fix Traffic Forever

This video was made possible by Blue Apron. The first 100 people to sign up using the
link in the description get three free delicious, fresh meals from Blue Apron. In 2004 the American Highway Users Alliance
published an article claiming that the Katy freeway in Houston, Texas was the second most
congested road in America. Drivers spent a combined 25.4 million hours
every year sitting in traffic on that road. That’s 36 lifetimes worth. It was an absolute embarrassment of a road
for Texas so they decided to spend $2.8 billion to expand it to 28 lanes making it the widest
highway in the world. All this extra capacity would surely fix the
problem—more lanes means more room for more cars which means shorter travel times… right? Unfortunately not. Between 2011 and 2014 alone, travel times
on the Katy freeway increased by up to 55%. It now takes an average of 64 minutes to drive
the 28 miles between downtown Houston and Katyland during the afternoon rush hour. That’s up from 41 minutes in 2011. The problem with this project was that the
solution violated the fundamental law of road congestion—more lanes mean more traffic. This probably seems counterintuitive. The more lanes there are the higher the capacity
a road has so cars should be able to drive faster… but that’s a very narrow analysis
of the problem. You can’t just think about how this would
work on one road, you have to think about it in the context of a whole city. Many people choose not to drive places because
of how long it takes. If the traffic is bad, they can take public
transit or wait until a less busy time, or just not travel at all. When a road is expanded, travel times initially
decrease so all those people who chose not to drive or to take an alternate route or
whatever decide to switch to using that newly expanded road. What’s fascinating about roads is that this
happens at a perfect 1 to 1 ratio. If the capacity of a road doubles, the amount
of people using that road will also double. If it doubles again, the amount will again
double. Of course if you kept doing this over and
over again you would eventually build a big enough road that there wouldn’t be any more
cars to fill the road, but in the real world where demand for roads far outstrips supply,
drivers will adjust to any change in road capacity. So does that mean that it’s hopeless? Is there no way to solve traffic? No way to make our roads better and safer
and more efficient? Well… no. There’s plenty we can do. Here’s the thing about traffic—it slows
down exponentially. The 20,000 car on the road slows down traffic
overall significantly more than the 5,000 car. This is a major driver for a lot of jams—a
small addition of cars leads to a large addition in congestion—but it also makes solving
traffic a bit easier since you only need to remove a small amount of cars from the road
and that’s just what ramp meters do. Ramp meters are set up on the on-ramps of
highways to restrict the amount of people getting on the highway. They usually let one car on every five or
six seconds. Since the amount of cars actually on the highway
is kept down, the highway stays at its most efficient speed. Minnesota did an experiment where they shut
down their long-used ramp meters for eight weeks in order to see if they actually worked
and they found that the highway capacity decreased by 9%, travel times increased by 22%, speeds
dropped by 7%, and crashes increased by 26%. Stockholm, Sweden used that exponential nature
of traffic to decrease travel times by up to 40% in 2006. Stockholm as a city lies across 14 islands
which means that all the bridges act as huge chokepoints. Traffic, therefore, was historically horrible
for the relatively small city. On January 3rd, 2006, Stockholm started to
charge drivers who entered this central perimeter—the busiest area. The charge wasn’t much—between 10 and
20 krona, the equivalent of 1 and 2 US dollars— but it was enough to persuade 20% of drivers
to not enter the central perimeter. They either went downtown on public transport
or walked or didn’t go at all. These are the amounts of daily drivers in
the perimeter in the years leading up to the charge. As soon as the charge was implemented in 2006,
the daily amount dropped down to here. It wasn’t a fluke. After the 6 month initial trial period driving
in the central core became free again and the amount of daily drivers increased to nearly
the level it was before. When the charge became permanent in 2007,
daily numbers once again plummeted. Even though the charge was minuscule, it was
enough to dissuade 10s of thousands of people from using those roads. There are really two costs of driving—the
money and the time. When the time it takes to drive isn’t enough
of a cost to prevent people from driving, these charges increase the overall cost to
a level where some people will decide not to drive. But what about safety? Roads are still unbelievably dangerous. In any given year, 1 out of every 10,000 people
in the US die in a car accident. Just think about how high of a proportion
that is. If you go to a Redskins game at FedEx field
near Washington, DC, eight of the people sitting in the stands with you will die in the next
year in a car accident. It turns out one of the best ways to prevent
accidents is with something you’ve almost certainly already seen or used—the roundabout. There’s a reason you see these more and
more. Roundabouts reduce deaths and serious injuries
by 90%. That is not an error. With roundabouts, there’s almost no opportunity
for the worst type of collision—the head on full speed crash. In a traditional intersection, cars come within
feet of each other while going at a relative speed of up to 100 mph. A head-on crash at that speed is undoubtedly
catastrophic. With roundabouts, cars naturally slow down
to about 15-25 miles per hour since they’re going around a curve. Also, if there were to be a collision, it
would either be a side-impact collision if a car failed to turn into the circle or a
side-to-side collision if a car misjudged the curve. Both of these collisions happen at a low relative
speed so fatalities are low. But what about capacity? Surely the lower-speed roundabouts cause horrible
traffic problems. Well… they don’t. A single lane roundabout can handle a maximum
of 1800 vehicles per hour which is exactly the same as a traditional two-lane signaled
intersection. While cars will move through a signaled intersection
at a much higher speed, they have to wait both for the light to change and left-turning
cars. With roundabouts, you have a smooth, consistent,
albeit slower, flow. So what’s the problem? Why haven’t we replaced every intersection
with a roundabout? Well there are disadvantages—they’re more
difficult for pedestrians, especially those who are deaf or blind, they require a larger
footprint, they’re more expensive to maintain—but the real reason roundabouts are not ubiquitous
nowadays is because of the biggest fallacy in road design—that drivers need rules. Poynton, just outside of Manchester, UK, used
to have a typical, rather dreary intersection and nobody really liked it. Cars would back up for miles, pedestrians
had to wait forever for the light to change, and it essentially split the town apart. So someone had the idea to remove the traffic
lights, remove the zebra crossings, the curbs, remove almost every safety device in the intersection
and just set up two adjoining roundabouts. Surely this would wreak havoc, but it didn’t. Turns out, when people are uncomfortable,
when people aren’t really sure what’s going on, they pay more attention. The green light was a signal to people that
the road was clear, that it was safe to speed, that they could let their guard down, but
after the change the cars were able to flow freely, albeit at a slow pace, instead of
waiting for the lights to change. Pedestrian incidents went down, collisions
went down, traffic flowed faster, and the city center finally had some character. So, all around the world cities are replicating
what Poynton did. They’re removing curbs, traffic lights,
and pedestrian crossings to make one shared space. All around the world, these streets are resulting
in fewer accidents and more pedestrian space. Discomfort is saving lives. On a larger scale, there’s one more innovative
intersection design that’s beginning to save lives—the diverging diamond interchange. This interchange is designed as a way to get
more cars on and off highways faster. After the on-ramp to the right side, the road
crosses over so cars never have to traverse active lanes to get onto the highway. A car heading north can effortlessly join
the on-ramp without crossing traffic, and a car heading south will cross over so it
drives on the left side and can effortlessly join the on-ramp to head south. Not only is this easier for drivers, it improves
safety. The dangerousness of an intersection is often
rated by determining the number of conflict points—possible points where accidents could
happen under normal circumstances. With a traditional on-ramp intersection there
are 26. With a diverging diamond intersection, only
14. And they’re faster too. The US Department of Transportation found
in a study that universally, whether the traffic was light or heavy, diverging diamond interchanges
let more cars through faster. It costs less too. A traditional on-ramp intersection requires
$11.3 million to build; a diverging diamond intersection, only $5.7 million. There are really no major disadvantages to
this intersection so nearly 100 of them have been built to date and more and more are being
installed each month. As good as these solutions sound, there’s
no one way to solve traffic. The difference between cities with chronic
traffic problems and those without is a combination of smart policies and designs that mitigate
the effects of having more road demand than supply. But traffic won’t just fix itself so until
cities at least experiment with solutions we’re all condemned to traffic, forever. This video was made possible by Blue Apron. Fixing traffic is all about saving time and
improving the environment and so is Blue Apron. They ship pre-apportioned meals strait to
your doorstep sourced directly from sustainable farms and fisheries. Blue Apron sent me a box to try out and it
was a fantastic meal. You’re shipped the exact amount of everything
you need so you don’t have do any measuring. Not only does this save time, it also minimizes
food waste. They give you these clear, concise instructions
so even the least experienced chefs can work with their recipes. So here’s the meal I made. It was healthy, quick, filling, and delicious
and the good news is that you can get a meal just like this for free. Blue Apron is offering the first 100 Wendover
Productions viewers that sign up with the link in the description three free meals so
you can try Blue Apron. Not only will signing up support Wendover
Productions, you’ll also get a chance to try these truly delicious meals. Aside from that, please be sure to check out
my podcast Showmakers and subscribe to this channel to get all my future videos right
when they come out. Thanks again for watching and I’ll see you
in two weeks for another Wendover Productions video.

100 Responses

  1. Wendover Productions says:

    Hey hope you enjoy this video! I didn't talk about planes!

    I was floored by the quality of the food the Blue Apron had considering it shows up in a box at your doorstep. Legitimately great food and it's really pretty quick and easy so make sure to check out the link in the description if you like free food (and supporting Wendover Productions!)

  2. Ed says:

    2:50 Washington DC

  3. Claude Desaulniers says:

    You forgot to mention idiot drivers.

  4. tomster says:

    How to fix traffic problems forever
    1) don't buy a car

  5. David Zavala says:

    The roundabout were I live causes more traffic and accident since no one respects it. One asshole from the farther lane cuts you off to go into the other lane, they dont work

  6. Yusuf patel says:

    If u fix th damn traffic problems what's there to talk about

  7. Vedraj r.m says:

    Public transport is the way

  8. Strict NonConformist says:

    Adding more lanes also fails to work as hoped for scaling for number of people moved while also not being as safe for the reason of contention points: more contention points exist as you add more lanes, and people need to work with/against others to get in and out of lanes and for turns.

    Adding more lanes doesn’t scale as well as hoped in the same way computers don’t scale for throughput, because of communication overhead, as drivers need to communicate intentions and interact with other drivers, ideally, to keep from unpleasant surprises that result in accidents.

    Diverging diamonds are interesting in that they take opposing traffic directions and flows and helps remove a lot of the time they’re actually opposing each other in a fun way, though probably theoretically better would be having no roads with traffic that crosses other roads, or traffic on the same road for turns: all one-way roads.

    I expect if anyone reads this, they’ll dispute at least one thing 😉

  9. Ben X says:

    It isn't the number of cars that is the problem. It's the number of morons behind the wheel that is the problem. The first thing we need to do is ban automatic transmissions. 'Driving' literally means the ability to control the transmission. If you don't know how to drive a standard, you don't know how to drive. Remove the non-drivers from the road and the problem is solved. Ban the automatic transmission and the morons won't be able to take up space on the roads. Also, police should arrest anyone driving under the speed limit. And the penalty for driving below the speed limit should be a mandatory 50 years in prison. Not in country club prison, but real fuck you up the ass prison.

  10. IceMonkey says:

    Yo its called public transportation 😂

  11. Thomas Conrow says:

    If a toll keeps someone from using a road, the fee is not "minuscule".

  12. Interdumensional Pie says:

    Your explanation of roundabouts is perplexing, in Australia there are heaps of roundabouts which are actually being converted into traffic light intersections to improve traffic flow because the roundabouts have caused enormous amounts of congestion due to their rules allowing a continuous flow of traffic one way to completely block a traffic flow from another entrance. I drive through a bunch of these intersections which are still roundabouts on my outdated GPS and they appear to operate more smoothly.

  13. Kugelblitz video says:

    How to fix traffic in urban Indonesia, where 70% of road user ride a motorcycle

  14. Jon Bettinger says:

    kelley square, worcester, ma

  15. Rickydon says:

    Just got here. If this video doesn't explain how to fix traffic forever I'm going to be disappointed.

    Edit: It didn't.

  16. PaperTonne says:

    The solution to traffic probably is the implementation of only self-driving cars.

  17. Cyber128 says:

    5:39 that taxi taking a u-turn boils my blood

  18. Tmg Clips says:

    Lets gooo I live near that Katy highway

  19. muggy mexican says:

    Whats up john

  20. Trey O'Driscoll says:

    I thought Myanmar had the biggest highway. Its 20 lanes wide. But no one uses it. It was shown on top gear.

  21. Muy Salado says:

    Lemme tell you, Houston traffic is amazing. I love when a 20 minute drive takes an hour

  22. DeadlyGaming says:

    I love how America is only just implementing roundabouts, in Britain it has always been a standard since we figured out that it works a lot better as proven in this video. Another thing that is funny is that London is known as the traffic hell – hole of the country while practically all of America has the same amount.

  23. Jack Shiels says:

    Rest of world:makes a rounderbout
    Uk: makes a triple layer rounderbout,1 rounderbout with 5 other rounderbouts and a rounderbout over a highway

  24. Bird Plane LANE says:

    meanwhile in the UK intersections are like unicorns

  25. kurisu7885 says:

    I live in Michigan and there are a number of Roundabouts in the area with more going up all the time, and for the most part people love them, granted some still treat it like a typical intersection which drives my brother nuts.

  26. Joe Godby says:

    I guess pedestrians just play frogger

  27. Stalin ,exe says:

    How to make interchanges incredibly safe, the half cloverleaf its that simply also but roundabouts everywhere you can and thats all I can do to improve roads. and don't have a highway like the 401 and or roads like all of Toronto with narrow roads, cars parking on said roads, street cars taking up half of the road and pedestrians walking right infront of ongoing traffic

  28. Matt S says:

    first ramp meter pictured is in seattle. we love them here

  29. Ishi 123 says:

    "There is no one way to solve traffic."
    >Looks at video title
    You lied to me

  30. Ali Nariman says:

    1:41 I know that place! That’s one of the MKAD junctions in Moscow, close to Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo and Khimki, a district and a town in the Moscow region, respectively!

  31. g h says:

    roundabouts are probably more sensitive to variance of arrival times

  32. MMCreator says:

    CGP Grey wants to see your location

  33. Rawie Plays says:

    So if poor people can't pay the toll, then rich people won't get stuck in traffic.

    Got it thanks.

    Fucking stupid "solution".

  34. thokim84 says:

    Traffic will be fixed by eliminating human decision making and making driving automated.

  35. Andre Ingram aka DJ Screw RIP says:

    Can't we just snap half of the world's population away? Traffic problem solved

  36. Kenhung1405PC says:

    Solve traffic? Autonomous cars.

  37. Elijah Ford says:


  38. Lachlan Neale says:

    But again you need to look at the city as a whole, the traffic on the highway might be alright but traffic on all streets anywhere near the highway will increase causing the same Problem on another road… I’m only looking at Melbourne Australia for my example but I guess it would be the same everywhere ?

  39. Snickered says:

    Rather than the diamond intersection. Just make a large roundabout. Thats what most of the UK does across its M1/A1

  40. Pearl Infinite says:

    Lots of cities r changing their intersections to roundabouts however Birmingham in the uk is doing the opposite and it's already wreaked havoc

  41. Baseshocks says:

    People reroute and gather on faster highway routes just like subway stations being hubs for buses, people walking and drop offs. If you had two separate highways split 10-20 miles apart you will get more even congestion. People go from point A to point B, homes/infrastructure are built around high capacity routes because they are desirable. City planners must plan where people drive by spreading it out.
    The thing about toll roads is that people will become more local rather then drive into city centers for a good time and tourism movement will be down… Maybe the whole problem are city centers or the fact that we need to limit city sizes and spread the people out. Another thing that toll roads do is make it a rich persons road.

  42. Rob S says:

    The ease and convenience of living where you want to and then travelling further to your place of work, is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. It's not just about the fast population growth we're dealing with (I'm in Australia and we are extremely congested in our main cities), it's also the push for greener forms of transportation that will thrust the cost per mile boundaries beyond what is economically sustainable for the working wage. Governments need to be giving incentives to businesses that relocate out further away from city densities, and shift closer to the suburban outskirts. The costs for these incentives will be offset by the lesser need of reconfiguring road networks and transportation systems. In the long-run, bringing the place of work closer to the population will always be the greener and more sustainable option, as opposed to getting the public to their places of work from afar. Cheers from Melbourne 🙂

  43. EASY PLAYSYT says:

    Just ban the people

  44. bruh bruh says:

    boots up cities skylines

  45. Erwin Vasquez says:


  46. onedrew ge says:

    @wendoverproductions, you should include the price of the sponsored product. Helps to get viewer attention if reasonable

  47. Dhrumil Patel says:

  48. GangGangDeep End says:

    I'm getting less stupid each video I watch

  49. Joey Abad says:

    Traffic in Philippines doesn't improve in years, it's getting worse because of 0 downpayment in cars,

  50. Eric x says:

    5:41 sure, and that's why those hilly and curvy two lane country road with speed limit of 60+mph scares me so much

  51. Gen.salsalani Rubat says:

    Philippines : am i joke to you?

  52. James Kirk says:

    traffic and fatal accidents will always exist at unacceptably high levels until vehicles stop rolling on rubber tires and asphalt roads. Trains suck. A car that can jump onto an electrified rail for commuting and interstate travel then jump off onto rubber tires and roads for last mile low speed destinations. Essentially, we need to hand the transportation reigns over to rollercoaster and golf cart manufacturers. problem solved.

  53. TwoStarII says:

    put your feet on the damn pedal and there wont be any traffic, seriously sometimes i'll overtake someone and check my rear view and see a trail of cars behind him caused by ONE GUY, just that guy alone!

  54. Talons Baseball says:

    Wendover’s real answer, use planes

  55. Steffen Berr says:

    As a transportation engineer I can tell you this guy is spot on

  56. Robert Binner Mattfeldt says:

    Force people to live where they work, and work where they live. More and more workers work from their home-stations. Pass laws requiring big companies to provide parking, and affordable housing for all their employees. It has been done in Europe, and it works perfectly.

  57. David Mark says:

    Self driving cars are the best solution

  58. Dominik Lovric says:

    How do you fix traffic forever?

  59. Karuzo says:

    the US is like a caveman lol

  60. Dwayne Smith says:


  61. Bagus Kusuma says:

    this video maybe didnt valid in third country
    because if there is rule or not in road, trafic is bad

  62. Dustin Hanor says:

    Legalize lane splitting and have 30% of people ride to work daily. Boom traffic solved fuckers

  63. Adam Beaton says:

    The way to fix traffic forever is to get rid of cars. End of story.

  64. Carlos says:

    03:12 so some people wrecked their car just for some experiment ? Lmao why is that funny

  65. Wubba Wubba says:

    Ramp meters! Those are what we have in Seattle and I never knew what they were, exactly.

    I mean, our traffic can still get pretty hellish, even with those meters, but I’d hate to experience what it would be like without them. But people here drive like absolute assholes so that’s probably why. There’ll be barely any room for them to get between you and the car ahead, but they won’t care. It’s madness.

  66. Nerve says:

    >People freak out over the idea of privatizing roads
    >Yet metered roads using prices to check demand is the best solution to congestion

    Really, REALLY makes you think. Basic economics work when applied to roads? Huh.

  67. Bruder Rüdiger says:


  68. Davey Thacher says:

    Roundabouts only really work at low speed intersections. As for stopping high speed collisions that's complete nonsense. In fact its a fallacy. Roundabouts at high speed intersections will bottleneck.

  69. Aethel Yfel says:

    Answer: cycling infrastructure, roundabouts, intercity trains. Underground intracity trains. Getting rid of Parking Miniums, and other instances of moral hazard that put the cost of driving on other people. And holding the road builders, and government accountable for the third cost of driving traffic casualties. No more single use zoning codes.

  70. Steven Manuel says:

    Anybody else notice the cars driving BACKWARDS through the roundabout while doing a u-turn at 5:35???

  71. Richard Baal says:

    that music is from draw rider the game lmfao

  72. yngvark says:

    Good video, but pretty misleading clickbait title – Last sentence in video is: "But traffic won't fix itself, so until cities at least experiment with solutions, we're all condemned to traffic forever."

  73. Geo Zero says:

    Ramp meters don't work. More lanes don't work.

    My dad studied traffic as an engineer 50 years ago.

    Traffic – or rather traffic jams – are caused by too many onramps and offramps, because traffic inherently slows down to get off the main road or to get on. More lane changes happen causing traffic to slow or even causing collissions. Some freeway roads have eliminated emergency lanes – like in Southern California – which prevents anyone from pulling over in the most minor of emergencies. This inherently causes more traffic jambs.

    In Fort Worth area onramps and offramps are often 1 mile or more apart. Compare that to 4-6 on ramps/offramps in Southern California. Fort Worth freeways also have feeder roads along the freeway that act as a transitional buffer for traffic. This allows traffic to keep moving.

  74. The Ombudsman says:

    I think it's implausible to support a road toll so long as the public transportation in the US is so bad. Once that is actually fixed, then go wild, otherwise you're just taxing poor people for trying to survive.

  75. Luke says:

    Motorcycles are a great way to reduce congestion. If every person you see in a car, commuting by themselves was on a motorcycle, less cluttered congestion and lower emissions.

  76. H S says:

    5:55 Hello, my Poland!

  77. TroublesomeTruckFan1996 says:

    How to solve traffic you ask? The road is lava.

  78. Muhammad N says:

    2:17 is atlanta. i live therelll

  79. Galgo Carreras says:

    So, restricting yet one more thing is the solution. That's how liberties die.

  80. Elijah Hua says:

    wow city skyline with reality mods

  81. Ram Bikkani says:

    Pretty fucked up experiment

  82. Darren Munsell says:

    The hyperbole in this video!
    It's obvious that the presenter never lived in a Round About dominated country ..

  83. Matt T says:

    Roundabouts only work in the US if you educate the populace on their use and you strictly enforce it. Soccer moms treat yield situations like a suggestion. Roundabouts May indeed reduce the number of head-on fatalities, but they greatly increase the number of fender benders due to removing the hard stop and the narcissistic nature of the “me first” generation.

  84. M L says:

    Roundabouts are far from perfect, in fact in Melbourne, Australia we are getting rid of some of the large ones in the suburbs and replacing them with intersections. They can be problematic when there is a lot of traffic entering from the same road meaning that often people cant even get a break to get into the roundabout. This is usually only a peak hour problem, but it can be significant. Some of our roundabouts actually have traffic lights…

  85. Mark J says:

    What about the mini roundabout

  86. Tealie17 says:

    The whole extra lanes cause traffic thing is true in the city, but not in rural areas of a freeway.

  87. AbDoO_ Almyhob says:

    Elon Musk :

  88. G2I Media says:

    So what I heard is if you keep building a ridiculously large amount of lanes eventually you'll run out of cars to fill it with. Lets do that!

  89. Ricardo Niz says:

    We just need one good plague

  90. Juan Hernandez says:

    Lol it took me 50 minute for 15 miles trip smh

  91. Tekk Luthor says:

    I learned about roundabouts in City Skyline

    8:44 definitely taking this one for City Skyline

  92. eedfsa hhhb says:

    Fixing traffic reducing the number of cars who enter the road means not to give any benefit to society.

    Forcing people to wait before enter a road doesn't solve the main problem of traffic, that is delay, and make them to use other means is a disadvantage as well. In fact if people prefer cars anytime they can (making the 1:1 relation between roads and cars) it means that other means are worse.

  93. russko118 says:

    no, the problem is that US peolpe are not able to drive with other people around. Not able to zip move or give way to others

  94. Elektrolyfe says:

    It'd be cool if we all just rode in autonomous cars. Take human error out of that equation.

  95. Sasquatch says:

    More lanes DOES NOT equal more traffic.
    As a city planner, I can tell you have extensive knowledge on the issue, including on most of the causes, but what causes traffic besides people, is the fact that road hierarchies weren't followed upon construction and implementation of the road network, either because it was built a long time ago or because the city now lacks the space and budget to completely redesign the network itself. For example, a 6 lane road being fed by 300 entrances and having exits towards a 1 lane road is just asking for trouble.
    I can see why roundabouts sound like they just discovered gunpowder in the US (much like the diamond intersection), but that only works to an extent.
    The US road network is just so dogshit it's actually amazing it only takes people 2 hours to get into a city. And I'm being honest here. You guys have so many bottlenecks in your road systems you could actually compare it to having blue balls.

  96. wayne Last says:

    So you increase the highway traffic but increase the time to waiting to get on the highway?

  97. wayne Last says:

    Put a sniper on the highway and you will decrease the traffic.

  98. wayne Last says:

    That’s why the huge traffic flows better in large cities like Bangkok etc.

  99. wayne Last says:

    Once self driving cars become ubiquitous then we won’t have to worry about people obeying traffic rules anymore.

  100. Michele Bogdan Craciun says:

    How to fix traffic? Dont be the traffic.

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