Motorists who are too aggressive or too timid cause traffic snarls on busy roads.
Such snarls might be caused by an accident, a bottleneck, or lane changing cars, but it is how the drivers in the cars behind react that brings traffic to a standstill.
Researchers say aggressive motorists, who drive too fast and too close to the vehicle in front, or timid motorists, who leave too big a gap, send a “wave of deceleration” backwards down the road until traffic grinds to a stop.
Such behaviour leads to the stop-start traffic jams which infuriate others, the Telegraph reported.
Researcher Jorge Laval, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, US, said it was important to understand what causes the jams, according to the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
“Stop and go driving is a nuisance for motorists throughout the world. Not only does it increase fuel consumption and emissions, but it also imposes safety hazards,” he said.