Deadlock in real life

Saturday 19 January 2008

This is an impressive traffic jam in a small place. It’s a great illustration of the term “deadlock”. Even the least technical person can take a look at this insanity and see that everyone is stuck (click to see more):

a crazy traffic jam

According to the reddit comments, this is in São Paulo, Brazil.


Been there a dozen times. Wouldn't own a car if I lived there (daily hell). However, once the subway had a glitch and I spent four hours in a health threatening bus (think a hundred people squeezed where forty-something would fit).

Confirmed as Brazil, very probably Sao Paulo.

However, if you look at the larger version, it's easier to solve than it looks ;)
Yes, it could be easily solved, as others elsewhere have pointed out. It doesn't even require altruism or global knowledge. If the cars at the edges peeled off to get moving in some direction, any direction, they would untangle the mess...
I've seen a few traffic deadlocks too. They're usually caused by somebody being too aggressive and pushing forward when they should have stayed behind the red light.
When I was in New York City in the late 80s, all the intersections were had clear and aggressive marks showing where your car could absolutely positive not be once the light turned red, under threat of some serious fine. I've always assumed that was to deal with the risk of gridlock like this.

In fact, it looked like the diamond cross-hatch you see on the road under the cars in this picture -- looks like maybe Sao Paulo is trying the same thing, with, at best, mixed success.
Todd: That's exactly what the paint on the road means. You should stop before entering the diamond cross-hatch even if the light is green. Unfortunately, no one seems to know or care.
I've seen stuff like that happen here in India too but because cars are usually smaller it only happens when there's at least one larger vehicle. It's funny that people trying to shave a few seconds off their time end up jammed for hours. It's not so funny that the rest of us behind are punished like that too.

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