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Is traffic a mirror on the social economic structure?

How do we behave when there is relative anonymity as in the current economic structure?


One exit in my commute home is backed up about 80% of the time. There is a large community accessible from that exit , which is home to many.

There are 4 lanes on the freeway leading to the jammed exit.

Observation has led to the following conclusions

1) The traffic jam at the exit is perpetuated by individuals cutting into the exit lane.
2) The individuals who cut are going to the large community.
3) This would imply that the vast majority are very familiar with the exit.

From a social economic standpoint

Do we applaud the individuals as industrious achievers, who found a way to lessen their commute?

Or do we chastise them for ignoring the negative impact their actions have on other drivers?

We are fully aware of the individualism which takes over when driving. This aspect would appear to be a perfect experiment into the human nature inherent in economics.

I am almost certain that the individuals above, would not cut into the line at the supermarket. Society’s judgment would be swift and harsh.

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    Dec 24 2013: more travel paths encourages more traffic..so instead focus on the way people experience travel to make it enjoyable. Joy as a factor in health is far more realistic then endlessly adding more routes
    • Dec 25 2013: Hi Carolyn

      I am trying to understand the current economic social trend we see today. My commute home appears to be a mirror on societal tendency to ignore people who are not in your immmediate circle.

      We see the same behavior in the stock market as we do on the roads. Very fascinating.
  • Jan 1 2014: Interesting analogy - I would say that there are cases when illegal actions gets the individual ahead and sometimes they get caught and punished.
    • Jan 1 2014: Good point, I only wish that the actions were illegal. In both the traffic and stock market they are not.
      • Jan 1 2014: In traffic, in most cases I have seen individuals crossing a solid line to get into an egress lane or use the breakdown lane. On the solid line case, they also block the lane they are in if they have to wait for an opening. In both cases, they are illegal (just need a traffic officer). Stock market the analogy holds for insider trading which is criminal and people have gone to jail for it (i.e. Martha Stewart). In both cases (traffic and the stock market), the laws are poorly enforced.
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    Dec 26 2013: ECONOMIST CALL THIS MISDIRECTION OF GOALS PRESENTSM ..it is a mistakre to think the future will look like the present and our attention to the obvious i.e. make roads wide for fire trucks...but too wide so pedestrians are in danger. Planning a road structure has effects on relationships, and technology has created in many ways disconnection,physical social disconnection. our love affair has not created healthier,better places..so why not plan a better commute.greener,friendlier ,more social. In Russia they have a subway offer if you do thirty squats(yes exercise) you get a free token...how about a snack cart on the subway,what about a dimly lite portion,or chess boards ,or music,or exercise area...if transport is hours a day packing everyone into dismal conditions will never recover the loss of joy poor insight has created
    • Dec 30 2013: Carolyn
      I was using traffic as an analogy to the economic system. Do people behave in traffic as they do in the stock markets.
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    Dec 23 2013: That of mine is only a humble point of view: Maybe it depends on the economic level of the people in the landscape you're looking at. If the social level is a survival one, the individuals may respond in a determined manner; if the social or economic level is higher, the response must be different, but not necessarily better, only different.
    It's just a point of view, because we can not forget that in today's world, sometimes the economy outweighs the principles.
    • Dec 23 2013: Hi Sean

      Very good point, I thought of doing a survey of the cars pricepoint, who cut in. Maybe some clues as to determination. I would hate to validate that data set, but it would be intriguing.

      I have noticed that truck drivers are way down on the list of folks who cut, maybe the community afforded by the CB radio.

      I asked myself, if a friend pulled up next to me and wanted in, I would let him in. Even though I would be aware of the other people in line. Looks like community is the primary driver (bad pun)