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Maybe Korean Drivers are Really Smart After all?

According to a study published in Physical Review E, drivers who ignore the rules help to improve traffic congestion. The paper is very technical and is a numerical study of the physics and properties of cellular-automata.  Having been a rocket scientist in a previous life (seriously, I was) I’m fascinated by geeky stuff like this. But even I can’t stay awake slogging through formulas and theorems. Fortunately for the rest of the world, there are other geeks who can paraphrase.

When everybody abides by the traffic rules, the risk of traffic jams are lower than if everyone ignores them.  That seems intuitive to most, if not all observers. However, when about 60% of the traffic obeys and rules and 40% are complete idiots, the risk of traffic jams is lowest.

Drivers who ignore the rules help to break up the groups that form as rule-followers clump together.

Anyone who has driven in Korea surely has come across their fair share of idiots, jerks and just plain rude drivers. I personally have had several altercations with drivers while on my bicycle, usually either taxi drivers and bus drivers.

To say that all Korean taxi drivers and bus drivers are idiots or jerks would be incorrect. That’s as prejudiced as saying that all foreign English teachers here are drug addicts, women chasers and violate their visas by doing illegal work. And, gosh, no one would ever suggest that, would they? However, if you’re an idiot, jerk or just plain rude while driving in Korea, chances are very high you’re a taxi driver or bus driver. Without implicating myself in the outcome of said altercations, I’ll just say that not everyone left the scene happy.

Given this study, I may have to change my current one-finger salute for those idiots and jerks to “Thanks” for helping to ease the traffic flow.

Interestingly enough, of the five researchers who conducted the study and published their findings, three of them are Korean, two of which are still in Korea. That makes me wonder if it wasn’t a case of a solution looking for a problem. (Hmmm, we Koreans can be babo drivers but maybe there’s something good about it.   Asa!!!)

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