The Do’s and Don’ts of Driving in Traffic

You’re heading home after working a long and stressful day. You’re hungry, you just want to see your family, pet your dog, and relax on the couch when you see the dreaded red of glowing brake lights. Of course, there’s a traffic jam. 

Few things in this life send your blood pressure up as quickly as driving in traffic. Indeed, we’ve written previously about just how stressful driving in traffic can be. While it’s understandable that crawling along on the highway is an unpleasant experience, we hope that these tips on what to watch out for when you drive in traffic will make it a little less so.

DO Plan Your Route

First things first, always make sure that you know your route before you drive off. It’s tempting to think that your GPS will take care of everything, but changing lanes can take longer in heavy traffic. Knowing your exits, instead of relying on your GPS guidance, will help make sure you have the time you need to make your exit. 

In addition, checking out your driving route before you go can help you choose a way where traffic is flowing better, or help you avoid an area of unusually heavy traffic caused by an accident.

DON’T Touch that Phone

You might think that driving slowly gives you a good opportunity to glance at your phone. The truth is, it is never a good idea to take your eyes off the road – nearly 3,000 people die every year in an accident involving a distracted driver according to the CDC. Cars can change speeds unexpectedly and rapidly in traffic, and emergency vehicles might unexpectedly need to squeeze past you. 

When it comes down to it, you’re sharing the road with a ton of other people and that means that distracted driving could put yourself and others in a dangerous situation. While you might feel bored, you just never know when something is going to happen. You’ve got to pay attention to stay safe out there!

DO Pack an Emergency Kit

Unfortunately, there are times when traffic jams last a long time, a really long time. Having some emergency items in your car can be the difference between an uncomfortable wait and a hellish one. 

Here are some extra items it’d be wise to keep in your car:

  • Extra phone charger

  • Blanket

  • Water and snacks

  • Medication

  • Jumper cables

  • Flashlight

DON’T Follow Vehicles Closely

You’re stressed and ready to be home – but tailgating the car in front of you is not going to help you get there faster. When driving in traffic, the slow speeds can tempt drivers to follow each other more closely and allow themselves to get distracted by fiddling with their radio or their phones. This leads to sudden and unexpected braking, so close is not where you want to be!

Paying attention and adopting good habits to avoid getting into a crash is always important, but especially when you’re in traffic. While sitting in traffic is a dull experience, it’s much better than sitting in a hospital. Keep in mind that your goal is not to get somewhere fast, it’s to get there safely.

Do you feel like you have the techniques you need to be safe out there? If your skills could use some refreshing, sign up for a defensive driving course today

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DriversEd.Com Staff Writers