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Moderate increases in the number of nodes or traffic load in a multi-hop wireless network (e.g. mesh, sensor networks) can quickly result in network overload. In these conditions, when sharing the channel using the IEEE 802.11 MAC protocol, the end-to-end delay can reach several seconds even in simple chain topologies. This is mainly due to packet queuing delays. The authors propose to apply the relay balance scheme and a new queue management scheme to reduce this delay, while maintaining high throughput. Simulation results show the effectiveness of the scheme reducing the delay by factors of 2 to 10. This illustrates how simple distributed control mechanisms can improve performance over highly loaded multi-hop wireless networks.