Driving in Traffic

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Driving in heavy traffic can be a major bummer. The best way to prepare yourself for it is to take in-car driving lessons that will give you the skills and confidence you need to get through a traffic jam. 

But you also need to be mentally prepared for traffic each time you get behind the wheel. Rush hour, bad weather conditions, road construction, a car accident – countless things can cause a vicious mile-long backup on the road at any time. Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to just observe this madness through the window, safely pass it by and keep focused on the road ahead. 

Driving in traffic can become frustrating and annoying. Let’s be honest. Traffic can turn your trip into a nightmare and ruin your plans, no matter what they were. But bad traffic is inevitable, and sooner or later everyone gets trapped on a tight, hardly-moving highway. Don’t panic. Stay calm and do your best not to lose self-control. Remember, people got out of the world’s longest traffic jam, and you can do it too!

Tips to Help You Avoid Traffic Altogether

  • Get the latest traffic update from a local radio station. Don’t forget about this unique characteristic of your car radio. In addition to blasting your road trip playlist, you can also find local news stations that provide the latest traffic reports. You may get a heads up that helps you take a less jammed route. 

  • Check out road congestion online before leaving. Do so right before your departure and plan your route according to the situation.

  • Choose your destinations and routes with rush hour in mind. Even at the busiest times of day, you can avoid traffic delays if you time the route right.

  • Choose the road less traveled. Even though slower residential streets may seem more tedious due to numerous stop signs and lights, they can keep you moving towards your destination. Like the tortoise, slow and steady can win the race. 

Tips for Driving in Traffic When You Can’t Avoid It

  • Never break the law to get through traffic. Regardless of how others act, never break the law in an attempt to get around traffic. It is illegal and dangerous aggressive driving. When the road is jam-packed with vehicles, there’s a good chance one of them belongs to a police officer or the highway patrol officer. If they see you breaking the law they’ll give you a moving violation in the middle of the congestion that could require traffic school to keep points off your license.

  • Look for signs of aggressive drivers. Instead of adding to the dangerous road rage, pay close attention to drivers who change lanes too often and too fast. Be prepared to deal with them and don’t be surprised when they try to cut you off. Leave them plenty of room to get by and get down the road. Never try to block an aggressive driver. You’re more likely to anger them than get them to slow down. 

  • Leave the GPS and smartphone alone. When you’re faced with a wall of vehicles it’s tempting to start looking for an alternative route. But GPSs and smartphones are just as distracting at low speeds as they are at higher speeds. In traffic, the car in front of you could stop suddenly or a motorcycle could zoom down the white line. The safest option is to stay the course and wait out the traffic jam. Besides, you might spend more time trying to figure out the way on an unknown road than you would sitting in traffic.

  • Be courteous and respectful of other drivers. Emotions are heightened when you’re stuck in traffic. It’s important for every driver to keep their emotions in check and share the road. Allow people into your lane if their lane is ending or merging. If other drivers need to exit, slow down and let them change lanes in front of you. Being courteous and obeying the law will prevent everyone from a nasty collision and will help reduce road rage.

In-car driving lessons will give you the skills you need to safely get through a traffic jam. There are also drivers ed courses that are designed to help teen, adult and senior drivers better understand the rules of the road with or without traffic. 

*This article was updated on 10/1/2020.