Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Traffic

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

    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

    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.
  • 5

    How Common Is Road Rage?

    How Common Is Road Rage?
    Photo: Raysonho /
    According to a 2011 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there are over 1200 documented incidents of road rage throughout the United States every year. Keep in mind the U.S. National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration legally defines road rage as when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property."
  • 6

    Traffic Management Systems in Metro Manila

    Traffic Management Systems in Metro Manila
    Photo: Patrickroque01 /
    Metro Manila is the national capital region of the Philippines. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority uses a number coding scheme to decongest roadways. Only vehicles with license plates ending in certain numbers may use the road during peak hours on certain corresponding weekdays: "1" and "2"s on Monday, for example. Motorcycles, school buses, shuttle buses, ambulances, fire engines, police cars, military vehicles, and vehicles with diplomatic license plates are exempt.