Avoiding road rage - violence by motorists, particularly those frustrated withthe perceived discourtesy of other drivers - can be accomplished with the helpof queueing research, the subject of a paper being delivered by "Dr Queue" onMonday, April 27 at the Montreal conference of the Institute for OperationsResearch and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and the Canadian OperationsResearch Society (CORS).
Motorists cutting off one another and other apparently obnoxious behavior intraffic have direct analogues in the more traditional "standing queues" modeledin queuing research. Fairness in these traditional waiting lines goes along withthe custom of "first come, first served," which is respected by some people andignored by others, often to their peril.
Let One in And Go
Dr. Richard C. Larson ("Dr. Queue"), Professor of Electrical Engineering andDirector of the Center for Advanced Educational Services at MIT, observes that atrivial incident, such as one car cutting in front of another, can tap into areservoir of anger, hostility, and frustration.
Noting that a perceived lack of social justice often underlies frustration withwaiting, he recommends that motorists everywhere follow a tip given in a Britishsafety booklet: Wherever there's merging traffic, follow the rule, "let one inand go." This is the behavior of "fair" standing queues, as evidenced in themerger of two queues of skiers waiting to get on a ski lift.
Government can help fight road rage, he notes, pointing to a series ofdrive-time public service announcements in Maryland aimed at shaming driversinto reintroducing courtesy to their driving. Dr. Larson urges more queuetheorists to examine road rage, noting that woefully little serious research hasbeen accomplished to date.
Avoiding Unbearable Lines
Among Dr. Larson's advice for avoiding other types of lines and queues is -
- Pay bills by mail, not in person
- Use express check-ins and check-outs at hotels and rental car agencies
- Avoid registering in person with motor vehicle bureaus - do it by mail
- Let a travel agent issue your airplane boarding passes
Organizations Can Help
Dr. Larson, a leader in the operations research field of queueing, has conductedresearch that benefits both consumers and organizations. Clients have asked himto apply his work at post offices, movie theaters, banks, police departments,sanitation departments, and emergency services.
His advice to organizations includes -
- Use serpentine, rather than individual lines at banks, fast food restaurants,and other establishments
- Entertain, enlighten, and engage those waiting on lines
- Announce delays
- Compensate customers who are not served within a guaranteed period of time
- Let customers serve themselves
Operations Research Convention in Montreal
Dr. Larson's lecture, "Beyond the Physics of Queueing," is the Omega RhoDistinguished Plenary keynote. Omega Rho is a society of collegiate chapters andmembers, founded in 1976 to honor excellence in operations research andmanagement science-related disciplines.
The lecture is being given at a convention of INFORMS and CORS in Montreal. Theconvention takes place at the MontrŽal Bonaventure Hilton and Queen ElizabethHotel from Sunday, April 26 to Wednesday, April 29.
The convention will include sessions on topics applied to a wide number offields, including aviation, health care, information technology, the Internet,energy, marketing, package delivery, pharmaceuticals, securities, andtelecommunications. More than 1,600 papers are scheduled to be delivered at thefour-day conference.
Operations researchers and management scientists are little known butindispensable experts who use science to improve decision-making, management,and operations. They work throughout business, government, and academia.Additional information on the conference, including a full list of workshops, isavailable at http://www.informs.org/Conf/Montreal98/
The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) isan international scientific society with 12,000 members, including Nobel Prizelaureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improvedecision-making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work primarilyin business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverseas airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, the stock market, andtelecommunications.
The Canadian Operations Research Society (CORS), founded in 1958, works toadvance the theory and practice of operations research. Its primary purpose isto stimulate and promote contacts between those interested in operationsresearch. CORS members are employed across Canada in various industries,government, and academia.
The above story is based on materials provided by Institute For Operations Research And The Management Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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