I’ve finally worked out why there is a delay between a traffic light going green and the traffic starting to move. I don’t mean when you are at the front of the line but rather when you are a dozen cars behind. Sometimes the light can change back to red again before you even move. It gets me so frustrated when I am sitting in a car. I don’t like to think that I suffer from road rage but I bang the steering wheel with my hands and shout ‘Come on’, to who I am not so sure. It never makes a difference.
I used to think that the delay was caused by the slight hesitancy which each driver has before moving off. A couple of microseconds here and there soon adds up but when I was sitting in a queue at the Cowgate roundabout on the way out of Newcastle, a notorious spot for getting stuck it came to me.
You see, I had pulled up close to the car in front, far closer than I would be prepared to be while driving. I was perhaps half a metre from the car in front which is probably a twentieth of the distance I would be comfortable with if moving. When all of the cars start to move it is this that causes the delay. Each of the drivers has to create a larger distance between them and the car in front. Over the first few metres, without thinking, they increase the gap to a safe moving level.
It is this adding of the gap that cause the delay and this is why cars cannot all start when the light goes green.
If you think about it the cars don’t all stop at the same time when the light goes red. Each one slows down and concertinas the gap between them. The time it takes to make up this distance as the cars come to a stop is the same time that you have to give up to get going again.
It is simple really and will not make the cars go faster but at least it will go someway to helping my mood the next time I am stuck at Cowgate.