Looking for a fun distraction that also includes a little civic and social engineering, Traffic Simulator gives you and your students a chance to see how slight changes in road systems, driving patterns, and other factors can lead to major back-ups on our roadways.
The initial pattern on the website is a steady circle of traffic (ring road), and you can manipulate different factors such as the total number of cars on the road, the number of those that are trucks, and the acceleration of those vehicles to show how each affects the traffic in a closed system. Once you’ve played with that and messed up rush hour, you can try the other traffic patterns, such as adding an on-ramp (above), off-ramp, construction, hill, or detour to see how each can also change the traffic. Different elements can again be manipulated to test the roads and demonstrate how different factors can lead to traffic nightmares.
Explanations of some of the physics and psychology of traffic are provided through the links on the sidebar, as well as different ways to use the simulation. Traffic Simulator is a wonderful tool for seeing how traffic patterns can shift and change and what affects them, as well as providing students with some problem solving as they work through how to alleviate the traffic and find the ideal conditions for each roadway.