Tragedy of the Traffic?

The video above helps to explain tragedy of the commons and how it can relate to life.

Public roads are an example of common property shared by many people. A modern example of a “tragedy of the commons” is traffic jams in major cities. Every person on the road has a mindset of their own and looks out for themselves. The road can be considered a public good that gets overused and lessened in value for everyone.  When everyone decides that public roads are the best way to meet traveling needs, the roads jam up and slows down overall traffic movement, filling the air with pollutants from idling cars. Each individual trying to get to work quickly uses the freeway because it is the fastest route. At the start, each additional person on the highway does not slow down traffic because there is enough space in the highway to absorb the extra cars.  At some point each additional driver brings about a decrease in the average speed and an increase in the amount of pollutants from the cars. Eventually, there are so many drivers that traffic is moving at an exceptionally slow pace. This happens because each person seeking to diminish driving time has increased the overall driving time for everyone. The problem is that individuals acting in their own interests feel immediate gain from their actions. But the losses from the impact of global warming and time spent are not felt immediately. People can get on the highway and drive fast for a while but eventually the traffic will slowdown and the idle cars will produce more pollution than they would have done if they had taken a local road.A solution requires people to collectively make a decision to alter the behavior of everyone, including themselves.

1 thought on “Tragedy of the Traffic?

  1. Wei Dai

    That is a good and appropriate example for the tragedy of commons (It is still the tragedy of commons because traffic is only the subject, the holder. It is not the cause of the tragedy). It’s really an extremely annoying thing that frequently happens in area with high population density. What is ironic is that everybody’s purpose is to get pass early and tuns out everybody get stuck in the end.

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