Traffic and the Theory of Globbers
I’ve been driving to and from work 30-50 minutes a day (over an hour and a half total each day) for a few months now and I think I’ve got a good theory on who is causing the problems. Naturally this is a theory based entirely on anecdote but there is method to the mayhem. The first thing we need to understand is the Pareto Principle:
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Business-management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.
When you are driving you might feel like everyone in your area is a psychotic bastard but it is likely that only about 1 in 5 of them are. This shouldn’t comfort you too much because that means out of every 5 cars around you at any one time one of those drivers is a lunatic that has no desire to live beyond the night. The next time you are out driving try and keep strong track of everyone driving around you and make a note of how many unique individuals are driving like total bastards.
In my experience it is about 20% of the drivers, which I noticed before I learned of the Pareto principle. This is why these incidents surprise you, because its only about 1 in 5 you have time to relax and get comfortable with the other 80% of people who are not complete bastards. These 20% have a very unique property that is the center of my special theory, the “Theory of Globbers”.
If you’ve ever been in traffic you’ve probably noticed how it seems to randomly form and vanish. These formations appear to have one of two sources in my experience thus far in the GLA (Greater LA Area), the first is a car accident which is caused by that 20% (generally hitting the other 80%) and the second is from Globbers. A Globber is someone who switches lanes to get around you just to be going the same speed as you a single car ahead of you. They will repeat this pattern the whole way down the highway, they also can be identified by being the people who drive 80 miles an hour at the back end of a car that is driving 60 miles an hour with absolutely nowhere to go.
That’s why I call them Globbers, because once you get enough people in one place like this they’ll begin to constrict and “glob” into a nodule down the road. It’s not much different from a flying V except instead of being the beautiful symmetry of avian animals it is the suicidal huddling of dead brained sub-humans. These form the “cork” of traffic, as they gravitate into a group and raise the odds that something will happen. That mitigating factor can be either an accident or a near accident, something that causes someone near the front of the glob to break hard. This will create a chain that vibrates down the system and that undulation will continue for miles as they try to readjust their lead footed driving.
Once enough Globbers get together it is impossible for anything to get done. Think of it a bit like a clog in your artery. What started out as a fast moving particle has grown cluttered and too large to fit through the arteries. It slows to a crawl (or a stop) and all the blood behind it cannot reach their source. That’s what these Globbers are, the fatty build up of bad decisions driving down the highway artery.
This is also why you see much more traffic when there are more people out. This is not a necessary result of high populations, if we were all driving automated cars there would be 0 traffic. There are not enough cars and people in just about any place to create necessary traffic. Traffic comes out of Globbers (or accidents which would also vanish with automated cars) forming these blockages and stopping everyone behind them from getting anywhere.
Worse during those traffic instances you have other Globbers gyrating from lane to lane trying to make their way to the front, creating mini blockages all along the route to the front. 1 in 5 people are shortening the free time in the lives of the other 4 people. It’s somewhat irritating for me, but fascinating. Once I start recording footage of my drives I’m going to keep a tally of all the psychotics on the recording and we’ll see how accurate this is objectively.
I suspect I’m onto something though, Globbers ruin the road for everyone (even themselves).
“I like to think all Globbers look like Wario.”