MythBusters (2003) s14e06 Episode Script

Traffic Ticks

Don't try what you're about to see at home.
We're what you call experts.
Okay, go.
[ Inhales deeply ] ohh! [ Up-Tempo music plays ] [ Record scratches ] I hate traffic.
You know, that could be something we should test.
I don't need to test it.
I hate traffic.
No, no, i'm saying, What if we did a whole "mythbusters" on traffic, Like, we investigated how traffic jams form, Ways of getting around them, ways of navigating them -- A whole episode on traffic? Well, hold on.
I love this song.
Oh, cool.
[ Up-Tempo music resumes ] Narrator: yep, it's music to every motorist's ears let's drive! Narrator: the highway holy grail hey! the keys to unlock gridlock.
Aah! The team is testing traffic tricks adam: traffic might suck to sit in, But it's really fun to experiment with.
Narrator: from unexpected jams To intersection efficiency [ whistle blows ] from constantly changing lanes sorry! Sorry! to switching for a plane.
Here's to flying! Narrator: the "mythbusters" are guaranteed To get your freeway flowing.
I got to pee so bad! [ Horn honks ] Who are the mythbusters? Adam savage [ deep voice ] it's scientific! and jamie hyneman.
We're gonna have an adventure.
Between them, more than 30 years of special-Effects experience.
Together with tory belleci we're gonna die! grant imahara [ gunshots ] A little hotter than i expected.
and kari byron.
Fire! They don't just tell the myths.
They put them to the test.
--Font color="#ffff00" captions by vitac -- Captions paid for by discovery communications Buckle up.
The mythbusters are waging war On the scourge of modern motoring.
Traffic, the enemy of all and friend of none.
Where you going, you half-Wit?! Narrator: to understand its cause and chaos, The science of the jams, The team is tackling The four most requested congestion questions.
Jamie: so, where do we start? Well, let me ask you a question.
How do traffic jams like this form? I thought it was like when a cop pulls somebody over Or there's an accident.
Well, there's a theory out there That a traffic jam can form From something as simple and innocuous As somebody stepping on their brakes.
That would cause the person behind them To step on their brakes and so on and so on in a wave, Like a butterfly effect, That would cause a huge traffic jam.
That's interesting.
Sounds like something for us to investigate.
That's what i thought.
It's an interesting theory That if a car lightly brakes for no apparent reason, It can supposedly form a major shock-Wave jam That continues to propagate Long after the initial cause has moved on.
But is it fact or freeway fable? To get to the bottom of this traffic myth, We're gonna need some wide, open space.
With that in mind, We've come to our favorite place in the bay area, The alameda runway.
We'll be using this wide, open space To make our own road for testing.
And away we go.
That road will be circular.
It will be 250 feet in diameter, And we'll be building that of these traffic delineators.
Hopefully with all of that, We'll be able to look into the [echoing] black soul of traffic.
Narrator: a view into the depths of traffic hell, Helped by a heavenly vantage point.
Well, our track is all laid out.
It is almost time to bring in our volunteers.
Jamie: so, how's all this supposed to work? When i hit the brakes [ tires screech ] Presumably, the cars following jamie Will also step on their brakes.
And we hope by watching this happen in real time To understand something about how traffic propagates.
So, fasten your seatbelts and let the games begin.
Narrator: one circular road a traffic jam does not make.
All right, jamie.
In my mind, you're number one.
Aww, gee.
Jamming behind jamie's lead car Will be a bunch of numbered volunteer vehicles.
And they'll be tricked out for traffic tricks With rooftop brake lights.
Jamie: this is how our brake monitoring system works.
The driver puts his foot on the pressure switch That we've mounted onto the brake pedal.
These guys will come on, And that will allow us to see overhead Exactly what's happening to all the cars at once.
Adam: time to get the ducklings rolling.
Narrator: so, jamie, tailed by his troop of volunteers, Hits the target speed of 20 miles an hour.
Adam: look at that.
10 cars, almost perfect.
That is light traffic right there, my friends.
Narrator: and with everyone settled Into a comfortable rhythm, it's "go slow" time.
What happens when an irresponsible driver Unnecessarily hits the brakes? Okay, and 3, 2, 1.
I'm hitting my brakes lightly.
Adam: there goes.
There goes 3, there goes 4, there goes 5.
Jamie stepped on his brakes right there, And every car that hit that, up to car number 7, Had to slow down a little bit.
Narrator: there is clearly a chain reaction To account for the lead car slowing down.
[ Chuckling ] this is so cool.
Narrator: but crucially, it has no significant Or lasting effect on the flow of traffic.
It's back to normal in no time at all.
It's fascinating.
Narrator: however, interestingly, Adam has seen enough to be encouraged.
That was really, really cool.
Even in those conditions, We were able to watch it progress All the way back through almost all 10 cars.
That tells me that there really might be something to this myth.
Narrator: it's a little something Adam likes to call jamie jammin'.
This traffic -- It sucks.
[ Laughs ] Next up, will lane-Picking patience Really cut your commute? All right, traffic tricks.
What have we got? The myth is It is better to stay in one lane in heavy traffic Than to lane-Change.
You'll get to your destination in the same amount of time.
I don't know, dude.
When i'm in traffic, i change lanes all the time.
I think it works.
All right.
So, lane-Weaving, does it work? I like it.
Narrator: the myth states that picking And sticking with a lone lane is the way to go, That dodging and weaving, chopping and changing Is a highway hamster wheel -- A whole lot of effort expended to stay exactly where you were.
Now, to test this myth of weaving in and out of traffic Versus staying in one lane, We are gonna be driving down to san jose tech museum.
It is exactly 46 miles from our shop.
Now, kari and grant -- They are gonna be weaving in and out of the lanes To see if they can find the fastest-Moving lane.
Me -- I'm gonna pick one lane and stay on it Until i get to my destination, And we'll see which one gets there faster.
Narrator: their chosen course all right.
Let the race begin! Narrator: is close to 50 miles of motoring mayhem.
On clear roads, it would take less than an hour.
At 7:30 a.
M whoa! Gridlock! it's going to take a lot longer.
And this is where the rubber meets the road.
Is it best to stay put, as the myth suggests? Okay.
I'm aggressive.
I'm aggressive.
I'm a lane-Changer.
I'm that guy on the freeway that i hate.
Or will the silver car's aggressive weaving Get them ahead? Because if you signal, they speed up.
One thing's for sure -- Tory, in the blue car, has the easiest job.
Tory: so i'm just gonna go ahead and get here in the middle lane.
And i'm just gonna stay here.
All right.
My job is done.
Narrator: sure.
He can relax, But how's he going to beat team weave When his lane-Changing hands are tied? Right now, they have taken the lead.
[ Sighs ] This is very frustrating because here i am Now stuck behind traffic.
I got to stay in this lane.
I don't like staying in this lane.
Narrator: kari's freedom to choose May have given her an early advantage.
I'm gonna give the wave.
I'm gonna do it and give the wave.
Thanks! But it's come at an adrenaline-Burning cost.
[ Both groan ] Plus, not only does kari have to constantly Make strategically stressful decisions [ horn honks ] Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! I'm a di-- Ah, i'm not a nice person! Sorry! they don't always come off.
Oh, look! Now it's going! [ Groans ] bad move.
[ Groans ] now they're going! You can't win.
Can't win! It's like you can't win.
Yep, in a mere 15 minutes and 17 lane-Changes into the test, There's been a lot of sweat, near blood [ both groan ] and fears whoa! Motorcycle! for absolutely no gain.
Tory: are you kidding me right now? I think i see kari and grant.
They're like two cars ahead of me.
Narrator: it's neck and neck.
Tory: hey, look, i'm passing.
Hi, there! [ Laughs ] I'm in the same lane, and i've just passed kari! And tory just passed us.
Shut up! Yeah.
Narrator: and that's how it goes until the halfway mark -- Calm and constant versus stress and duress.
Get out of my way.
Oh, my god.
This guy hates me.
But with team weave once again in a narrow, hard-Earned lead oh, shoo-- Ahhhhhh! the traffic conditions alter radically.
Traffic's really cleared up.
I don't think we need to do any weaving here.
For the final 20 miles, Vehicle density is reduced to the point Where both cars are cruising along At the speed limit, Meaning kari and grant maintain their lead to the finish line.
One hour and 11 minutes.
But the bad news for kari is [ groans ] it was a lot of risky road maneuvering for no reward.
That was so stressful.
That was so stressful! It was not worth it! That was awful! And the bad news keeps coming.
That's tory! That is tory! You are kidding me right now! [ Chuckles ] no way! Kari: what was that, like, a minute?! What?! What?! Hey, look! You guys beat me by a whole minute and a half! Narrator: yep, there was a whole lot of stress For a time difference of just 2%.
So although the weaver won, The test was compromised with less than congested conditions.
And the team is tending towards confirmed.
So far, it's looking really good for the myth, Not so much for my mental health.
We beat tory by a minute and a half.
Not worth it.
The weaving, the stress, the strategizing, it was crazy! Still, this was supposed to be a really congested freeway At a really congested time, And it wasn't congested the whole way, Which means we have to test this further, Which means i might go gray by the end of this episode.
Noooo! [ Siren wails ] Narrator: later on "mythbusters," Adam and jamie answer your intersection questions.
I love the roundabout! Narrator: and the road-Raging lane-Weavers get wired.
What?! [Bleep] Hey! Narrator: traffic -- You either hate it or your really hate it.
Its causes and chaotic patterns Are seemingly out of our control.
Or are they? Because jamie and adam are asking If a lapse in concentration and sudden, unexpected braking Can cause the genesis of a jam.
I'm hitting my brakes lightly.
And so far, in light-Density traffic, the answer is no.
But it's not over yet.
They're ramping it up to rush hour.
Now we want to go for broke.
We're gonna load this circle up with 22 cars And see just how long that wave might propagate When jamie stamps on the brakes.
That's all 22.
It looks great.
Just remember, folks.
If you are watching this in your car while driving, You're part of the problem.
Narrator: as before adam: here we go.
Narrator: the goal is for jamie To lead the flow of traffic at a steady 20 miles an hour this might take a little bit to get them up to 20.
Narrator: and then suddenly And unnecessarily hit the brakes.
But there's a problem.
Ooh, i got up to 9.
[ Laughs ] Aww, i'm back down to 5.
Adam: with 22 cars on our circular track, They've been driving for half an hour And haven't gotten above 15 miles per hour.
It seems that our traffic density is just too darn high.
You know, this is kind of bumming me out, man.
I hate sitting in traffic.
[ Laughs ] So, we're gonna pull a couple cars out And see if that does the trick.
All right, everyone.
We're gonna run this again.
Honk your horn if you're ready.
[ Horns honking ] That's the sound of traffic being experimented on.
Remember, folks, our goal is about 20 miles per hour.
Narrator: and with 20 cars following jamie On the road to nowhere, it's mission accomplished -- Heavy yet free-Flowing freeway traffic.
Adam: well, pulling two cars out totally did the trick.
Okay, now we're reaching 20.
They've been driving now for 15 minutes, And they're going at a steady 20 miles per hour.
It seems that we've accidentally stumbled on The exact threshold of traffic density, Which is just perfect for our testing purposes.
Narrator: here we go.
Will the consistent current of cars Congest under the slightest provocation? Jamie, we're gonna do the gentle stepping on the brakes.
I'll count you in.
3, 2, 1, go.
Adam: there it comes.
4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
Look, it's affecting 12, 13, 14, moving back through.
16, 18, 19, 20.
Jamie's gonna get stuck in his own traffic jam.
Perfect! This is what we wanted to see! Look at this.
Now it's back.
18, there it is.
Starting over here again.
It's already on its third revolution.
[ Laughs ] And jamie got stuck again! Narrator: yep, when the traffic density is high enough, A minor braking incident can clearly cause major congestion.
With enough vehicles joining the back of the line, The jam continues to propagate we got a little bit of a problem here, houston.
and propagate.
Not that adam cares.
Traffic might suck to sit in, But it's really fun to experiment with.
Narrator: despite the fact the vehicle density is optimized For 20 miles an hour, Minor incidents continue the clogging, Confirming the result and jamie's opinion of traffic.
That's just wrong.
I'm going like 2 miles an hour there.
Jamie, you're complaining about being in experimental traffic, You realize? Experimental, real world, who cares? It's traffic.
It sucks.
[ Laughs ] As mark twain almost said, There are two certainties in life -- Traffic sucks and this myth is confirmed.
Jamie: turns out that in heavy traffic, You don't have to have an accident to cause a problem.
All somebody has to do is blink And they can set off a massive traffic jam.
All right, jamie.
Stamp on your brakes right now.
[ Tires screech ] [ Horns honking ] [ Laughs ] Yeah! Yeah! Let it out! Let it out! [ Laughs ] Narrator: up next let's drive! Narrator: is the roundabout really the intersection king? Narrator: next up, the ryder cup of the roads.
Have you ever driven through europe? I have.
What'd you think of the roundabouts? I liked them.
Well, there's a myth that a roundabout Is a far more effective way To move cars through an intersection Than the 4-Way stop signs we have here in the united states.
The cars get through quicker? Apparently.
Let's test it.
Europeans love their roundabouts.
But adam and jamie want to know, are they a triumph of efficiency Or, compared to the good 'ol american 4-Way, A catastrophic circus of congestion? So, we're gonna set 'em both up and run 'em through their paces And see which one comes out on top.
Narrator: it's as simple as that.
They'll mark out a 4-Way intersection With traffic barriers adam: [ laughs ] Whoo! Narrator: and then compare the efficiency i believe i've reached my peak laziness.
Narrator: of traffic flow Between the two systems in question.
For a little added realism, we've decided To give each of the four streets in our intersection a real name.
There's plausible parkway, jato drive, boom boom boulevard, And then there's my personal favorite, c4 avenue.
Well, we've got our course set up, And except for all the barriers and cones, As you can see, it's a pretty normal 4-Way stop.
So, how's this gonna work? Well, our drivers are gonna be driving up To one of these four stop signs.
And so, of course, they're going to be lawfully stopping.
At each of our stop signs, we're gonna have an operator Operating one of these flip cards, Which will direct our drivers Either right, left, or straight ahead.
No u-Turns.
And every time somebody drives through the intersection, I'll be counting it with this handy little clicker.
And after a measured period of time, We'll see how many cars Were able to make it through our 4-Way stop safely.
Our first test is gonna run for 15 minutes.
I'm gonna hit the siren and start counting.
[ Siren wails ] We are starting the first test.
Narrator: and now it's a numbers game.
Gonna have to focus on this.
Narrator: jamie and his trusty clicker [ chuckles ] Narrator: count each car That makes it through the intersection.
Jamie: okay, we're up to 123.
Narrator: and so far, with little or no waiting time, It seems like the american way is as good as it gets.
Jamie: 4-Way stop seems like it works pretty well, actually, From where i'm standing.
You know, it's efficient.
I feel like i've been driving forever.
[ Siren wails ] Oh, that's it! Narrator: time's up, and time for the result.
378 intersection crossings, 15 minutes.
Adam: that couldn't have gone better.
That felt exactly like i was in real traffic, Even down to the little hitches at the intersection.
I'm gonna go.
I'm gonna go.
[ Clicks tongue ] there we go.
[ Laughs ] I'm not sure it was my turn, But i think he gave me deference because, well, i'm the host.
I think this is an excellent metric, But just to make sure, We're gonna run this test one more time And average the results.
Narrator: yep, and second time around, It runs just as smoothly.
Oh, i'm making a right-Hand turn now.
Narrator: but the repetition is clearly getting to adam.
Adam: you know, jamie used to be a doorman At studio 54 in new york? True.
No, he totally did.
He once kept cher from getting into studio 54.
He was like, "not you, cher.
" Narrator: delirious rambling aside [ siren wails ] the result is in.
Adam: [ chuckles ] Narrator: what we need now is a summary.
Adam? We had an average of 385 drivers cross through this intersection In just 15 minutes.
That's more than one car every 2ã‚â½ seconds.
That's a pretty high level of throughput For this intersection.
But before we proceed all the way To resetting everything for a roundabout, It occurs to me that there is one more way That a 4-Way intersection can work -- Without stop signs.
Narrator: and with a cop.
Where's my badge? And a gun.
I want a gun.
Where's my gun? Narrator: yep.
Before they check out the roundabout here we go.
Commencing traffic cop test.
Narrator: adam wants to know If a former member of the village people Can move traffic faster than self-Governed stop signs.
Jamie: there are a number of different ways We make it through intersections.
There are stop signs, there are roundabouts, But then there are also traffic lights.
This is my favorite test of this episode so far.
Jamie: and so we want to know If the decision-Making that the traffic cop is doing Is more efficient and quicker At getting people through an intersection Than the decision-Making That all those individual drivers can do by themselves.
Narrator: but the answer is a resounding no.
What'd i get? Adam: 289.
About 30% slower.
Yep, the good old 4-Way stop sign Governed by the people for the people Is clearly more efficient.
Question is how will it fare against le roundabout? Kari, grant, and tory are testing the theory That the lane change is all pain for no real gain.
Shoo-- Ahhhhhh! So, today is the final experiment For our weaving versus staying-In-One-Lane myth.
But there's gonna be a difference, And that difference is we're gonna fill each lane With a car marked 1 through 4 to correspond to their lane.
And tory will be the weaving driver.
He'll be in a car marked "x.
" I'll be in car number 1.
Where's kari byron, you ask? Oh, yeah.
This is a much nicer ride.
Narrator: yep, kari's getting high in the sky To keep an eye on the road race below.
All right, buster.
Let's do this.
Narrator: while "x" marks the silver-Car spot For road weavers belleci and buster get your weaving on, tory.
Narrator: grant and his three fellow lane-Stayers Will provide a comprehensive comparison To tory's tactic By logging a time for all four lanes on the highway nice move.
That was a good weave there.
Narrator: a time that will be earned the hard way.
I thought driving in traffic was bad, But i mean, trying to weave like this? It's very stressful.
Stressful, but so far, fruitful.
A few minutes into the test, and tory's already leading.
Grant: dude, i can't even see tory.
He passed me.
He went over two lanes to the right, passed me, and he's gone.
Narrator: grant can't see tory, but kari can.
Kari: all right, i can see car "x" has chosen lane 2 And has scurried ahead of the pack.
But not by much -- Just a couple car lengths.
Narrator: a couple of car lengths That come at a high-Blood-Pressure cost.
Tory: let me in.
Let me in [bleep] Oh, okay.
[Bleep] Narrator: but moments later, Tory's lost the ground he so painfully gained.
Car 1, car "x," and car 3 are neck and neck.
Grant in the fast lane, actually, Looks like he is making headway.
Car x is gonna have to weave around him.
Narrator: and that's just what tory does all right.
I'm going for it.
Narrator: for the next 10 miles, living on the edge.
Oh [bleep] [ horn blares ] Almost got killed by a truck.
Narrator: feeling the strain of the lane-Change pain holy crap.
I almost got killed.
he slowly but surely ekes out A significant 5-Minute advantage.
But interestingly, from his perspective, Lane weaving is not working.
Tory: this is the thing about switching lanes.
The moment you think your lane is going slow, You get out of it.
But it's right at that moment That it starts speeding up again.
It's kind of counterintuitive.
Narrator: that's his subjective perception, But the result is down to one objective number -- Time.
And on the final leg, It's the toll plaza taking its toll on tory.
[ Yawns ] Narrator: gridlock.
And grant's lane suddenly closes in.
Grant: see, this right here is toll plaza.
This is what we call the great equalizer.
He might be ahead by, you know, i don't know, 15, 20 minutes.
You get to this toll plaza, Everything grinds to a complete halt.
Narrator: yep.
With hundreds of cars jammed in bumper to bumper, It's a lot of wait.
But tory has picked the winning toll-Lane ticket And is through first and on the home stretch.
Now it's back to the shop, buster.
You can relax now.
Question is how far behind are the others? First to appear is grant.
What's your time? I beat you by 3 minutes! A mere 4% time difference.
And close behind by a minute is car number 2.
But while waiting for the third lane sticker, Time ticks on and the gap is significantly larger.
And he was 13 minutes behind me.
And when the final of the four arrives, 25% slower than tory, The lane-Staying myth looks down and out.
So, where do we stand with the stick-Or-Weave dilemma? Well, with every single test we've done, The weaver will beat the person staying in one lane Every single time.
In test 1 in traffic that wasn't that heavy, The lane-Sticker lost by around 2%.
And in the ultimate test, All the lane-Stickers lost by anywhere from 4% to 25%.
So, what does that mean? Well, the myth that staying in one lane Will get you to your destination in the same time as weaving Is busted.
Weaving will get you there faster, But just barely, and it's not that safe.
Narrator: next on "mythbusters" road trip! Road trip! our trio of traffic trickers escape to l.
City of dreams! Please don't try what you're about to see at home.
We're what you would call experts.
Okay, what's next? This one is another classic.
The myth is that for journeys less than 400 miles, Like san francisco to los angeles, That it's actually faster to drive than it is to fly.
No way.
I can see it.
I mean, you have to get to the airport An hour and a half ahead of your flight, Then you have to check your bag, get through security, And then, on the other end, go and rent a car.
I mean, i could definitely see How driving could be faster than flying.
I see a race coming on.
Narrator: to fly or to drive? This modern version of hare versus tortoise Proposed by a prestigious nasa director Is that for journeys of less than 400 miles, Driving is surprisingly faster.
But surely the tortoise can't compete With a 500-Mile-An-Hour flying hare.
To find out, it's a pre-Dawn showdown.
We're testing the myth that it's faster to drive Than to fly on a journey that's less than 400 miles.
So, we drew straws.
Tory's gonna fly.
Grant and i are gonna drive.
We're starting.
San francisco, 7:00 a.
, Driving 380 miles to the natural history museum in los angeles.
In 3, 2, 1, go.
[ Laughs ] come on! [ Engine revs ] I should probably give them a head start.
I mean, after all, i am flying.
Narrator: tory's confident Because he knows his ride Will be traveling approximately 430 miles an hour faster, A fact that has failed to dampen team car's enthusiasm.
Road trip! Road trip! Because road trips are, well, road trips.
Kari: this will be fun.
There's the camaraderie if we need to urinate, Should we urinate inside of a container in the car? and there's the open road and freedom from waiting around.
Or not.
Totally in the middle of commute traffic.
Oh, this is gonna bone us! Meanwhile, on his way to the airport [ whistling ] Narrator: tory is realizing it may not be as simple As his main mode of transport's top speed.
Tory: now, the things that are gonna hold me up Are one, i have to drive to the airport, park the car.
I need parking.
Check my bags.
I got to get to the flight two hours before So i can get through security.
That's gonna slow me down.
Now i'm starting to get nervous.
And then, on the other side, i have to go pick up a rent-A-Car, Get my bags, then drive to the location.
This is gonna be a close race.
Narrator: it's the key to this myth -- Having to get to the airport in time To go through the time-Consuming process of boarding Gives our roadies a chance.
And back on the road, Our 4-Wheel tortoises are not stuck anymore.
They've hit the highway.
This is road food, people.
However, they do have to stick with the legal speed limit.
No! No! No! [ Laughs ] And they are stuck with each other.
It's gonna be a long trip.
Do you have any good road-Trip stories? [ Smacks lips ] let me see.
Um not really.
But they have already covered 70 miles, and tory it's to your left.
Thank you.
Thank you.
having only just checked in is lining up for security.
Tory: we have to shut the cameras down Because they won't allow us to film in there.
Besides, i might get strip-Searched! There's some benefits to driving.
I mean, i am carrying things That are over 3 ounces and in liquid form.
[ Laughs ] All right.
So, i just made it through security, And actually, it went pretty smoothly.
Not too many hold-Ups, But this part always takes up time -- Putting yourself back together before you get on the plane.
All right.
Let's go catch a plane.
Narrator: meanwhile, out on the road, Grant and kari are eating up the miles At a steady 70 miles an hour.
290 miles to go.
I think i just ran over a skunk.
I thought it was all that beef jerky you ate.
They may be bored ã¢â„¢âª 99 bottles of beer on the wall ã¢â„¢âª â™⪠99 bottles of beer ã¢â„¢âª but they are always moving.
â™⪠97 bottles of beer on the wall ã¢â„¢âª â™⪠97 bottles of beer ã¢â„¢âª Unlike tory, Who after getting through security in reasonable time i hope i make it to my gate in time.
Narrator: has come up against another air-Travel bottleneck.
All right.
So, i made it to my gate.
Now i have another half-Hour to wait before we actually board.
Now, this is killing me because this is eating up time Where i could actually be traveling.
Kari and grant -- They are flying on the freeway.
I have to sit here and wait.
Narrator: and that's the key to the potential plausibility Of this myth.
â™⪠78 bottles of beer on the wall ã¢â„¢âª â™⪠78 bottles of beer ã¢â„¢âª Do the logistics and the waiting around Required for air travel offset the difference in speed? â™⪠take one down, you pass it around ã¢â„¢âª With team tortoise 130 miles ahead But only inching their way down the highway ã¢â„¢âª 77 bottles of beer on the wall ã¢â„¢âª our about-To-Be-Airborne hare thank you.
is settling in for a relaxing 500-Mile-An-Hour sprint.
You know what, normally, i don't like sitting in the middle seat, But today's a different story.
We like having you in the middle.
[ Laughs ] â™⪠30 bottles of beer on the wall ã¢â„¢âª â™⪠30 bottles of beer ã¢â„¢âª â™⪠i'll take one down, you'll pass it around ã¢â„¢âª I wonder where kari and grant are.
Oh, look! I think i see 'em! [ Laughter ] Narrator: adam and jamie Are asking an intersection question adam: you snaked me! It was my turn! You should have waited for me! Narrator: that could cut congestion.
Jamie: well, there you have it -- The good old-Fashioned 4-Way stop.
We ran two tests.
We got almost identical numbers of cars to go through it.
And it worked.
It does the job.
There's no drama.
Now, however, we want to see if there's and substance To the myth that the roundabout is actually a more efficient way Of getting cars through an intersection.
This was our previous test.
This is our current test, the roundabout.
You might know it from europe.
Narrator: with the circular setup, uh, set up, The volunteers are wheeled in, And adam, wearing a silly hat on a segway, Takes the time to read your mind.
I know what you're thinking.
You're thinking, "wait a minute, mythbusters.
"Your volunteers, your test subjects are americans, "And americans don't regularly experience "And drive on roundabouts.
Well, you're right, but we've also already thought of that.
Commencing practice session now! [ Siren wails ] Before we commence with our experiment, We're gonna give our test subjects a good half-Hour To get used to the roundabout and circulate on our course.
Oh, i think they're doing great.
We don't want their lack of experience to skew our results, So we're gonna give them that experience Right here, right now.
Narrator: with the drivers up to speed in a spin, Here's how the actual test is going to work.
Because of the way the roundabout is configured, It's harder for one person to keep track Of how many people are passing through it.
So for this test, we will have four people counting off Placed strategically at each of the exits, Clicking off one number Every time a car leaves the roundabout.
[ Devices click ] And just like last time, i'll be up in the lift Monitoring everything that's going on and running the timer.
[ Engine revs ] Yeah, it's time.
[ Siren wails ] Narrator: a slightly over-Excited adam let's drive! Whoo! Testing traffic! Narrator: leads his car-Driving cohorts Around the roundabout for the two 15-Minute sessions.
[ Chuckles ] Yeah, baby! Narrator: the human-Powered randomizers Randomly direct the drivers through the intersection.
Every time i approach, it's like an adventure.
Yeah! Here we go! Another right-Hand turn! Narrator: and while the counters count i love the roundabout.
Narrator: jamie observes from above.
See, at any given time, there's like three, four, Sometimes five or six cars in the intersection.
Whether that adds up to a final count that's higher, I don't know yet.
Narrator: it's an observation that could hold the key To the final tally.
I think that this test is moving quite efficiently.
Narrator: by allowing more than one car Through the intersection at a time adam: it's like a ballet.
Narrator: the overlap could result In a considerably higher count.
Adam certainly seems to think so.
From a driving perspective, this is dreamy.
Narrator: to find out if he's right, the siren sounds.
[ Siren wails ] And it's time to crunch the crucial numbers.
[ Imitates tires squealing ] Yes, the results are finally in.
At the 4-Way stop, over a period of time of exactly 15 minutes, We counted an average number of 385 cars.
[ Imitates engine revving ] And the roundabout, on the other hand, Allowed a whopping 460 cars to pass through it.
That's an improvement of almost 20%.
I'm calling it.
I'm saying a roundabout wins and that this myth is confirmed.
The roundabout is a more efficient way To move cars through an intersection.
That's a big difference.
Time to adopt it, america! Narrator: coming up on "mythbusters" there might be a chance we beat him.
Who will win the freeway fable? Get out! Get out! Get out! I think tory's probably at the gate by now, Headphones on, listening to music.
He's probably drinking with the pilot.
[ Both laugh ] We're from the valley.
So, you guys are, like, original valley girls? Yes.
Like, totally.
This is a finely tuned vegetarian machine.
If you put junk food into this machine [ burps ] Is it hot in here? It is hot.
Turn on mine, too, while you're at it.
[ Laughter ] [ Tink! ] Good thing we got a convertible.
[ Laughs ] [ Engine revs ] Narrator: tory, grant, and kari 185 miles to los angeles.
are racing 380 miles for science.
City of dreams.
And while team car is only halfway to l.
A [ yawns ] Cheers! Narrator: jet-Setter tory's taken off and sitting pretty.
We're trying to find out which is faster.
Is it faster to drive to l.
Or fly to l.
? Tory should be flying over now.
'Cause a lot of people think checking your bags, Going through security, getting a rent-A-Car, That it's actually faster if you drive to l.
Than it is to fly.
Narrator: and with tory leaving his earth-Bound competition In his contrail 100 miles to los angeles.
Still? he's clearly more comfortable Than his car-Bound competition all i know is my back is tired, i'm tired, i got to pee.
with our road warriors weary, cramped, and cranky.
[ Laughs ] sorry.
Tory's short 90-Minute flight is already complete.
But although he's well in the lead, doubts are creeping in.
I just landed in the burbank airport, And we are now four hours into this experiment, And i am just now getting into l.
But i am a long ways away from the location.
I still need to get my bag.
Now, this is definitely gonna eat into my time.
I need to get my rent-A-Car, And then i have another 40-Minute drive Till i get to the destination.
Kari and grant might have a chance of beating me.
All right.
Let's go.
Narrator: and speaking of going i got to pee so bad! Just hang on.
Just a little bit more.
team car requires relief, refreshments, and refuel.
Ready, set, go.
All right.
Having to stop is a major disadvantage.
[ Sighs ] Oh, god.
Grant: feel better? Whew.
But it's worth pointing out they'll complete the journey On 80 bucks of gas and drive-Through.
And tory's flight was more than twice as expensive, Not to mention the cost of car rental.
Right now, i'm waiting for my shuttle to pick me up So i can go over and get my rent-A-Car.
Again, burning time.
Narrator: time in which kari and grant grind ever closer.
And with tory's time delays continuing to add up hello.
Narrator: team tortoise is back in the race.
That's burbank airport.
I have my rent-A-Car.
Now it's off to the final destination.
There might be a chance we beat him.
Now, it's only 17 miles away, but this is l.
I mean, if there's traffic, This could be the longest leg of the trip.
Narrator: yep, after five hours, it's down to the wire And the lottery of l.
'S freeways.
Why are we going so slow? There's an accident.
No! Oh, we were doing so well! Oh, shut up! No! And with both teams caught in the mess of the metropolis, The merest minutes matter.
All right.
Back in the game.
Back in the game.
Tory: all right.
Here's my exit.
The destination will be on your left.
I don't see any sign of kari or grant.
All right.
All right.
Turn right in here.
We just got to get to this place.
All right.
That's the steps.
[ Tires screech ] i don't see him! I don't see him! [ Laughs ] I think we beat him! Get out! Get out! Get out! [ Laughs ] Come on! No way! That's amazing! What's our time? 5:23.
Yes! We beat him! [ Laughs ] that is awesome! I can't believe -- Hey, what took you guys so long? Did you guys hit traffic? Shut up! [ Laughs ] When did you get here? Took me 5 hours and 15 minutes.
We -- We -- It was like 7 minutes past you! That's crazy! Dude, if we hadn't stopped for you to pee, We could have made it! You could have picked a more fuel-Efficient car So we didn't have to stop for gas! Whatever.
Sounds like a real relaxing trip.
[ Laughs ] Oh, what is that smell? Oh, god.
It's not me.
Narrator: yeah, when it comes to enjoying the journey, There's a clear winner.
But as for the race itself the myth that if you have a journey Under 400 miles Is actually faster to drive than to fly is plausible.
We left at the same time this morning From san francisco And arrived within 10 minutes of each other down in l.
Now, that's 380 miles.
If anything had been slightly different, One of us could have gotten here faster than the other.
So, walking away plausible.