Vanderbilt University researchers study how to stop ‘phantom’ traffic jams on I-24

It’s never fun getting stuck in a traffic jam, but what if you can make one single change with your car to prevent backups?

Vanderbilt University researchers tested exactly that in the middle of rush hour on Interstate 24 and News 2 took a look at what they found and how it can revolutionize your commute.

We’ve all been there. You slam on the brakes because you’re stuck in a traffic jam, but it’s not really clear what’s causing the slow down.

“There’s not a wreck. There’s not a lane merge. There’s not a car stuck in the middle of the road trying to change lanes. You’re like, ‘What happened? Why did we slow down?’” said Vanderbilt researcher Jonathan Sprinkle.

Sprinkle has a name for this bizarre traffic jam: “They’re sometimes called ‘phantom’ traffic jams.”

His team at Vanderbilt is on a mission to stamp these out once and for all, but first, they have to understand how they happen. Turns out, drivers play a crucial role.

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