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How to Cause a Traffic Jam

Video clip synopsis – No matter how well our roads are monitored, the human factor is always unpredictable. What happens when a semi-trailer runs out of fuel on the freeway?
Year of production - 1999
Duration - 1min 34sec
Tags - cars, cities, public transport, urbanisation, see all tags


How to Cause a Traffic Jam

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About the Video Clip


How To Cause A Traffic Jam is an excerpt from the film Wrong Way Go Back (26mins), an episode of the series Auto Stories (4 × 26 mins), produced in 1999.

Wrong Way Go Back: With one car on our roads for nearly every man, woman and child in this country, solving traffic problems is a never-ending nightmare. Yet it’s just another day at work for the road crews and traffic controllers who monitor Melbourne’s roads via a vast system of cameras. Together they deal with one emergency after another in a vain attempt to keep the freeways flowing. Meanwhile, at Knox City Council a debate rages. Will the council recommend to State Government that further extensions to the current freeway system should cut through the suburb? But at what cost to the environment? Engineers and environmentalists compete to shape the transport options. But who will council support? The outcome surprises everyone.

Auto Stories: A character-driven series that explores themes of vanity, responsibility, dependence, pride, obsession, love and death through our relationship to the car. In Australia there is a car for nearly every man, woman and child, causing traffic congestion, accidents and environmental nightmares. No one is immune from the pleasures and dangers of the car. Everyone has an auto story to tell.

Auto Stories is a Film Australia National Interest Program in association with December Films Pty Ltd. Produced with the assistance of Cinemedia’s Film Victoria and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus


The focus of the study of urban places is a geographical investigation of world cities, mega cities and the urban dynamics of large cities and urban localities.

A student
H1 explains the changing nature, spatial patterns and interaction of ecosystems, urban places and economic activity
H3 analyses contemporary urban dynamics and applies them in specific contexts
H6 evaluates the impact of, and responses of people to, environmental change
H7 justifies geographical methods applicable an useful in the workplace and relevant to the changing worlds

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


The Monash Freeway brings a huge volume of traffic into Melbourne from the south-eastern suburbs each weekday morning. Freeways like the Monash Freeway are major capital works that are costly but dramatically improve traffic flow. Traffic controllers monitor the freeways for accidents and problems that occur on a regular basis. They watch the roads with the assistance of cameras. Traffic controllers also fly in helicopters to monitor traffic congestion. They observe the traffic conditions and their reports are heard on radio stations warning motorists to expect delays or to take alternative routes. Emergency service drivers are on call for breakdowns and accidents. Emergency phones to call for help are at regular points along the freeways.

Classroom Activities

  1. What problem of urban living is highlighted in the clip?
  2. Why do so many people wish to travel into the centre of large cities each day and how could this be changed?
  3. In the clip the size of the city and the traffic jams of peak hour have created work for people. Identify and list the range of occupations now associated with the population density and number of cars on the road in Melbourne peak hour
  4. Research and outline some of the strategies used to ease traffic congestion of large cities throughout the world