The Wall Street Journal Article, One Driver Can Prevent a Traffic Jam, is an interesting take on traffic etiquette. Each driver has a huge effect on the traffic around them, meaning that it only takes one vehicle to create a traffic jam. The basis of the article is that there is a large amount of research concerning each individual driver and their ability to stop or ease a traffic jam by driving at a steady speed and maintaining a gap between vehicles.
Commuters who live in Seattle spend an average of 66 hours a year being stuck in traffic. Seattle may be a worst case scenario, but the article hits on the point that traffic is becoming an increasing problem in many cities.
Thomas Hobbes is a well known philosopher when it comes to the social contact theory. According to social contract theory, to have security in society humans have to give up portions of their liberty. Hobbes believed that all humans had underlying evil intentions. This means people must follow basic rules for a society to have order and morality.
Hobbes work in social contract theory pertains directly to traffic jam situation. As proposed in the article linked above, if each driver followed simple traffic techniques no jam would take place. In this situation we could say that society would be the drivers on the road ways and the basic rules would be those such as not tailgating, maintaining a steady speed, and letting other vehicles merge.
Drivers would have to give up portions of their liberties including driving at a fast speed, driving in close proximity to other vehicles, and other basic decisions made while driving a vehicle. When drivers decide to disregard these simple driving techniques, Hobbes belief of people having underlying evil is showing.
If drivers followed simple strategies to avoid traffic jams, do you think it would work? Do you think that there is going to be a situation during a “traffic time” where everyone would bother to use the traffic jam techniques?
I think that if every driver was aware of anti-traffic jam techniques and tried putting them to use, the amount of traffic jams would decrease dramatically.