What are traffic clumps, and why are they dangerous for new drivers?

Driver’s ed teaches new drivers the basic skills for responsible driving. A temporary permit allows new drivers the chance to get driving experience.

But new drivers still lack experience behind the wheel.

One common traffic scenario that may be challenging for new drivers to navigate is traffic clumping.

The term may be unfamiliar, but the concept is not: When a group of cars stop at a stoplight, for example, they cluster together. When the light turns green, that group of cars proceed to travel together in a “clump”. There are other scenarios in which traffic clumping occurs, as well.

Driving in the middle of a group of vehicles can be problematic in many ways, especially for inexperienced drivers:

  • Reaction time: When several cars are clumped together on highway, drivers have limited time to react to another car braking, unexpected debris in the roadway, etc.
  • Merging: Merging onto a highway can be challenging even for experienced drivers. In heavy traffic situations, or in traffic clumps, merging can be challenging and dangerous for new drivers.
  • Changing lanes: Changing lanes can be difficult when surrounded by other cars.

What can drivers do to stay safe in traffic clumps?

While it is impossible to avoid driving in traffic clumps, drivers should try to work their vehicles safely away from other cars. This can be done by safely accelerating or reducing speed.

As drivers gain experience driving in all traffic conditions, driving in traffic clumps will be less of a concern and danger.

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