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Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Interstate 80, seen here in Berkeley, California, is a freeway with many lanes and heavy traffic. Traffic on roads consists of road users including pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, streetcars, buses and other conveyances, either singly or together, while using the public way for purposes of travel. Traffic laws are the laws which govern traffic and regulate vehicles, while rules of the road are both the laws and the informal rules that may have developed over time to facilitate the orderly and timely flow of traffic.
Organized traffic generally has well-established priorities, lanes, right-of-way, and traffic control at intersections. Traffic is formally organized in many jurisdictions, with marked lanes, junctions, intersections, interchanges, traffic signals, or signs. Different classes may share speed limits and easement, or may be segregated. Some jurisdictions may have very detailed and complex rules of the road while others rely more on drivers’ common sense and willingness to cooperate.
Organization typically produces a better combination of travel safety and efficiency. Events which disrupt the flow and may cause traffic to degenerate into a disorganized mess include road construction, collisions, and debris in the roadway. On particularly busy freeways, a minor disruption may persist in a phenomenon known as traffic waves. A complete breakdown of organization may result in traffic congestion and gridlock.
Simulations of organized traffic frequently involve queuing theory, stochastic processes and equations of mathematical physics applied to traffic flow. Old Italian verb trafficare and noun traffico. The origin of the Italian words is unclear. Suggestions include Catalan trafegar “decant”, an assumed Vulgar Latin verb transfricare ‘rub across’, an assumed Vulgar Latin combination of trans- and facere ‘make or do’, Arabic tafriq ‘distribution’, and Arabic taraffaqa, which can mean ‘seek profit’.