October 7th, 2022
Tips for Getting Stuck in Traffic
Is it me or is getting stuck in traffic one of the worst ways to begin or end a workday? In 2020, American drivers spent on average 26 extra hours in their car due to traffic. With the pandemic on the downswing and a sense of normalcy beginning, that number is likely to rise again with so many remote workers returning to the office. The other day when I left work, my normal 30-minute commute home turned into an hour and a half trip, which was incredibly frustrating. It was to the point where, when I did finally arrive home, I’d been put in such a “mood” I’m sure my family would have preferred me to remain stuck in traffic just a little longer. (Kidding! Sort of). I came home and instantly started ranting not only about the traffic, but about some of the wild acts of driving I’d witnessed, the accidents that ALMOST occurred and the lack of courtesy on the road.
The following are just a few reminders about traffic rules and etiquette:
- Avoid aggressive driving: This includes weaving from lane to lane, braking abruptly and tailgating.
-Keep your distance: There should be at least three seconds between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Do not tailgate! Not only is it poor driving etiquette but it puts you and others in harm’s way as well as reducing your reaction time. Stay patient and keep your distance. When stuck behind a miserably slow driver, it helps when I think to myself, “What if this was my Gram driving?” (She was not the greatest of drivers, I admit.) I also think, “How would I want the person behind her to act/drive?” which usually makes any road rage I have from a slow driver subside.
- Do not drive or cruise along in the passing lane: This must be one of my biggest pet peeves while commuting. The passing lane is for just that, passing a slower vehicle only to return to your original lane. Do not drive in the passing lane to go the same speed limit as those in the driving lane. All this does is cause more congestion. Pass when you need to and then merge back into your lane when it is safe to do so.
- Use your turn signals: This should be done approximately 100 feet before a turn (200 in some states). It’s important to remember to do so when changing lanes as well. Think about how many times you have said to yourself “Nice turn signal” when the other driver did not use it. By using your turn signals, this advises other drivers of your intentions with your vehicle whether that means you are preparing to break for a turn or turning at a stop.
- Stay aware: Always be alert as to what is going on around you. Wait to eat, text and anything else for when you safely arrive at your destination. Remember to use your mirrors and to check your blind spots as needed when you are changing lanes or merging. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel to avoid accidents.
- Use your headlights accordingly: This is particularly important as we prepare to ‘”fall back” an hour for daylight savings. Make sure your lights are on when it is permitted to do so. Turning off your high beams for oncoming traffic is also very important. (Tip: If you are being blinded by an oncoming driver with high beams on, look to the white line to guide you.)
The truth is, we all despise traffic. We live busy lives and are constantly on to the next task in a hurry, me included. The last thing I want to do after a workday, or any day for that matter, is sit in traffic thinking about all the things I still need to accomplish for the day. However, if we work together, we can make commuting a little bit less miserable by following the simple tips above. We all have somewhere we are trying to get to, but what is more important is that we all get there safely.