On my way into work today, I realized that Seattle traffic is one of those human systems that visibly conform to the second law of thermodynamics… OK, that’s a gross oversimplification, but it’s still amazing to watch people intentionally move from a high energy state to a low one, with no good explanation. 

Example:  On the exit I take to get to work every day, there are two lanes that turn left.  Invariably, there is a line of 20+ cars in one lane, and 1 or 2 in the other.  Why no one else uses the other lane is beyond me.  I might understand better if it was always the same lane, but it often changes. 

Another Example:  If someone is doing 60Mp/h in their lane, in a line of cars, with good spacing, and a spot opens up in another lane (left or right)…Someone will invariably dive into that spot, but not change speeds at all, thus blocking that lane for faster traffic. 

On a related note, if you ever need to calculate the noise from a segment of road you’re planning, the National Physical Laboratory in the UK has the calculations for you here.