While not all of us are being raised in a busy city or in an area that typically has heavier traffic flow, at some point in each of our lives we will have to deal with traffic that is comparable to sardines packed in a can.
To be sure, it certainly isn’t the most pleasant experience in the world; other drivers aren’t always considerate, you may or may not miss your street or exit due to a lack of areas to merge in, and if you’re stuck in traffic during summertime with no heat, it’s so unbearable that you’d almost rather abandon your vehicle and walk the rest of the way to your destination.
I’ve been there, and I wish I’d had these tips to get me through and help me. Lucky for you, I like to pass on my knowledge so others don’t find themselves in the situations I’ve found myself in many a time.
So in this post we’ll be going over tips to maneuver through heavy traffic like a pro, and get where you’re going without too much hassle.
Sure, you may be late, but you know what they say: better late than never, right?
This means that you constantly and effectively expect the unexpected.
In a heavy traffic situation, this could mean someone cutting you off, a motorcyclist speeding through between lanes, or others attempting to squeeze themselves into spaces their car just will not fit into in order to get a little ahead.
What can I say? Traffic makes people do crazy things.
Driving defensively will help you better anticipate these things, no matter how unthinkable, and be prepared to handle something if it comes up.
Take Advantage Of Gaps
Now, this doesn’t mean squeezing into the smallest gap possible or cutting other people off, but in heavy traffic, you also can’t hesitate too long, otherwise you’ll never get to where you’re going.
Make sure to keep a watchful eye on your mirrors and other drivers, and when a space opens up enough for you to pull into it safely, put on your signal and go.
You can also look out for other drivers as well, as some will be courteous enough to let you out, and will signal that they are doing so.
If this happens, be sure to thank them; you’re all in this together, after all, and this is a huge pleasantry that will not often be gifted to you.
This goes without saying, but in heavy traffic, the road is literally packed with other vehicles.
No matter how slowly the traffic is moving, it is still moving, and keeping the flow of traffic going is something you all have to work together to make work.
No matter how tempting it may be to check your Facebook during a traffic stop, resist the urge and pay attention to what’s going on around you so you’re prepared when traffic begins to move again.
You wouldn’t use your phone while driving normally, and you shouldn’t use it in traffic either.
This is more so targeted toward those living in an area with consistent heavy traffic, but it helps when you’re headed to a destination as well.
Anticipating a traffic slow-down or stop ahead of time and planning your driving times accordingly is a great way to make sure that you’re not late even if you do get stopped in a heavy traffic area.
By simply leaving early and preparing for unexpected delays, your stress level while driving in heavy traffic will be greatly reduced.
Maintain Appropriate Distance
This means keeping a decent distance between you and the care in front of you to avoid the risk of collisions from sudden stops, accidental pressure on the gas pedal, or just a lack of attention (where you probably had your phone out…I told you not to do that, didn’t I?).
The ideal distance is that of about three seconds, which you can gauge using things you pass such as stop signs or telephone poles.
Adjust your speed to get the appropriate distance and maintain that space to provide you with more reaction time in the event of sudden stops or any other unexpected occurrence.
Have An Exit Strategy
If you get uncomfortable at any point during the traffic jam, make sure you can get out safely and find another route to your destination.
It may not seem like it, but your emotional state has a huge impact on your driving ability, and anxiety can impede your ability to properly handle heavy traffic situations.
If there isn’t a clear way out, you can turn your emergency light on and pull off to the shoulder of the road to relax and make yourself more comfortable before getting back onto the road.
Don’t Give In To Tailgaters
There’s just no way around it – some people just aren’t considerate, no matter what the road looks like.
When people get so close behind you that it seems like your vehicles might merge into one soon, don’t panic.
When you’re able to safely, make a little more distance between you and the car behind you and if you drive a manual transmission – especially if you’re stuck in traffic on a hill – give your car a bit more gas when shifting and slowly let the clutch out to keep from rolling back and hitting them.
Reduce Your Speed
Not all heavy traffic will be at a standstill, and it’s better to proceed with caution until you have a bit more room to work with.
Keep your speed a bit below the standard speed limit – about 5 mph should do just fine – and keep your eyes on the road and the drivers around you as much as possible to anticipate the unknown.
Some other drivers may get antsy about this, but your main goal when driving, especially in heavy traffic, is being safe and cautious, and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.
Keep Yourself Entertained
One reason why driving in heavy traffic is not the most pleasant experience is that during those long hours of being stuck, you feel less productive. There’s nothing else for you to do except to stare at the car in front of you.
This often leads to drivers losing their patience and getting angry. There’s also a high probability that you’ll get in contact with an aggressive driver at this time. You might even be the one ending up driving irresponsibly, putting everyone on the road in danger.
To prevent this from happening, try to find ways to keep yourself entertained while stuck in heavy traffic. You can listen to chill, relaxing music to keep you calm, or any other type of music you like. Or you can download a really interesting podcast (or audiobook) ahead of time so you can play it while waiting for movement.
Just don’t lose your focus and still pay attention to the road. These suggestions are considered forms of distracted driving, but in a heavy traffic situation, they can prevent you from getting bored.
Getting stuck in heavy traffic can be frustrating.
But keeping in mind that the road is a public good that is made for everyone can help you ease up a little.
Handling heavy traffic successfully helps in making the road a little less dangerous for everyone.
Hopefully, with these tips I’ve shared with you today, you’ll be able to conquer the next heavy traffic situation that you have to endure.
Don’t forget that at the end of it all, it all boils down to getting to your destination safely.