According to various reports, Americans spend on average nearly 40 hours a year stuck in traffic. For many, this means the equivalent of an entire work week is spent sitting still somewhere on a freeway. While many suggest that the solution is to stop driving and walk or bike to work instead, these suggestions are simply not practical for everyone. So if you must drive, follow these 10 helpful tips:
1. Check the current conditions
Use traffic reports online, your GPS system (if it has live updates on road conditions), or your favorite traffic app to view any potentially slow areas along your route. Be sure to refresh the report and check the timestamp on all conditions to make sure the information reflects real time.
2. Be aware of construction zones
A construction zone along your route will require at least a slight decrease in speed. This decrease in speed can quickly turn into a traffic jam with more drivers on the road. As mentioned here, construction zones also include a lot of driving distractions that require you to be at the top of your driving game.
3. Consider alternate routes
If your route includes a construction zone, take a look at other options. Even when the route is looking clear and free of construction, take a few extra minutes before you get in the car to consider some route alternatives should you encounter trouble along the way. Trying to reroute while you are under stress and behind the wheel is dangerous. Taking the time to consider other options before you leave will help keep you safe and sane.
4. Avoid peak times
Traditionally peak traffic times are 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 to 8:00 pm; however, this may vary slightly in your area. Do some research on traffic patterns in your area and try to avoid traveling during the timeframe that historically boasts the busiest roadways. Sometimes changing your plans by 30 minutes can make a world of difference.
5. Leave early whenever possible
If your normal route takes 20 minutes, plan your day as if you expect the route to take 40 minutes each way. This way you will be happy when the trip takes less time than expected and you will not be so stressed when the trip takes a little more time.
6. Keep the tank full
Keep an eye on that gas needle and head to the gas station to refill as soon as your tank is half empty. This will prevent the possibility of running out of gas while stuck in an unexpected jam. Having a full tank is also a great way to prepare for emergencies.
7. Follow the rules
Watch for signs and respond accordingly. Always follow the speed limit, especially in construction zones. The last thing you want when you encounter any slow down is to get pulled over and spend even more time on the roadside. You could also end up with a citation, or worse, end up in an accident that could have been avoided.
8. Stock up on your favorites
Make sure that you always have a water bottle, a few favorite snacks, and your favorite gum or hardy candy to suck on whenever you leave home. Getting stuck in traffic while you are thirsty or hungry will only make things worse.
9. Have a safe distraction ready
One of the best ways to deal with traffic is to have an enjoyable way to pass the time. Here are just a few suggestions that you can employ:
Find a podcast you enjoy. You can find a podcast on nearly any topic these days. Find one that really speaks to you and tune in while you wait out your traffic woes. Instead of feeling like your time is being wasted on the road, you can use the time to learn something.
Listen to an audiobook. Listening to audiobooks while traveling in the car will help to pass the time and make your drive more enjoyable whether you are moving or not.
Have a “traffic” playlist. Create a playlist of your favorite songs that you can only listen to while stuck in traffic. Relaxing classical music? Dance party tunes? Pump up the jam? Old school? What the playlist includes is totally up to you; however, making a favorite list that you can only listen to while stuck on the road may make you actually look forward to hitting some traffic.
Invite someone along for the ride. Whenever possible, carpool with someone that you enjoy spending time with. Time stuck in the car will pass quickly when you are caught up in a good conversation.
When you do encounter a traffic jam, take a few deep breaths. Remember that you can’t control the universe, but you can control your attitude.
Remember, you don’t have to like traffic, but using the suggestions above with help you make the best of a bad situation. Now is the perfect time to start getting back at least a few of those wasted hours!
Whitney Hollingshead is an optimist, a dreamer, and a professional writer. She loves learning and sharing tips, tricks, and fun facts with others. In her spare time she thrives on coming up with fun and creative solutions for everyday opportunities, especially when the solutions enable her to spend more time with family and friends.