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Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Traffic

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When most of us think of traffic, we imagine highways or other roadways turning into bumper-to-bumper parking lots, the bane of any car driver's existence. But the word traffic itself just refers to the flow of drivers and vehicles along roadways.

Traffic is an inevitable part of using a motor vehicle. Most of us would like to avoid it whenever possible, but there are facts about traffic that can help us better understand traffic patterns and what causes traffic.

So the next time you're stuck on the interstate, read up on these facts you didn't know about traffic to pass the time!
  • 1

    The Origin of the Word "Traffic"

    The word traffic originally meant "trade" and still technically does. It comes from the Italian verb trafficare. If you think about it, historical areas of pedestrian trade probably had the most traffic (in the contemporary sense) before the invention of motor vehicles.
  • 2

    A Lot of Congestion Is Caused by Merging

    Photo: Anna Frodesiak /
    Where multiple lanes become one, or where a ramp leads into a highway, merging occurs. When volume is high, merging can be a big factor in domino-effect congestion.
  • 3

    The First Stop Signs Were Used in Michigan

    Photo: TeVe /
    The first-ever recorded use of stop signs was in Detroit, Michigan, in 1915, and they were originally yellow with black lettering. They were eventually standardized and adopted the world over by the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals.
  • 4

    Congestion Costs BIG Money

    If you think you waste time and energy stuck on the road, imagine what everyone's total wasted time costs. A report by Seattle-based INRIX and the Centre for Economics and Business research found that in 2013, Americans lost $124 billion in wasted gasoline and productivity loss due to the time they spent in congested traffic.