Butterfly Effect, Traffic Edition

Forgive me but some days it seems like I am holding it together by Popsicle sticks, energy drinks and sheer force of will.

I know you have no clue what is swirling around in my brain like the fake snow inside a snow globe just shaken by a bored child with too much pent up energy. Actually, the topics are multi-fold but let’s start with one that has been simmering in the crockpot of my mind since last week. For those who have read my blog and listened to my personal podcast (http://scottlatta.podbean.com) , you have probably heard me rant once or twice or 45,000 times about what annoys me in traffic. It doesn’t matter what the conditions are, someone or multiple someones will wreck the driving experience for all those in that geographical area for that time block.

Now let’s rope in the Butterfly Effect concept. Again this is something that I have blogged about previously, at least in relation to the movie franchise and the concept. So now let’s overlay the Butterfly Effect with the traffic issue. The grand concept is spawned when a butterfly flaps its wings and a seemingly unrelated event, usually half a world away, takes place like a tsunami or a tornado or something of the like.

Here in Missouri, the Butterfly Effect has equally devastating repercussions in traffic. Over in Asia a butterfly flaps its wings. Someone with a smartphone captures the event and posts the video to Youtube. Some schmuckadoodle driver is slowly rolling along on highway 270 during rush hour traffic (morning or afternoon, take your pick). They activate their phone and pull up the butterfly video. While the phone is sitting in their lap, they become engrossed in the video and let their focus slip from the traffic conditions around them. Suddenly a subconscious alarm bell goes off and the driver looks up to see brake lights and the vehicle in front of them is stopped. The Youtube watching driver curses and jams on their brakes to avoid a fender bender. This action causes a chain reaction of events behind them. Some other drivers are driving too close to the vehicle they are following and try to veer onto the shoulder or into another lane. This ripple on the asphalt pond makes yet more drivers slam on their brakes and make other split second decisions. This may or may not result in an accident or multiple accidents but the forward progress and momentum of the stream of vehicles has been halted and the effect will filter back dozens, hundreds or thousands of cars depending upon how dense the traffic concentration is, spanning miles. This repeated behavior will cause some drivers to become agitated and overly cautious to avoid having to jam on the brakes again, bringing traffic flow to a near standstill or virtual crawl.

So as you can see, the Butterfly Effect is real and quite perturbing when having to deal with main thoroughfares featuring many distracted drivers. I know there are times when a text or instant message flows through during drive times. It is going to happen. But for the love of Pete’s Dragon, please keep yourself in the slow lane if you are going to constantly be on your phone. That way if you do get in an accident, you can quickly get off the road and we all can mean-mug you as we creep by.


OK that was my PSA for people to get off their phones when I am in their proximity in traffic. Have a splendid day.



http://www.scottlatta5000.weebly.com – Scott Latta’s Social Lair

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