Sitting in traffic is, undoubtedly, one of the worst things about being a modern road user. You’re sat, stationery, bored. You’ve got places to go and people to see, but the sheer volume of traffic on the road is preventing you from getting where you need to be. It’s maddening, bad for the environment, and easily the worst thing about driving in the modern world.
So, it makes sense to try and reduce the amount of time you spend in traffic. This will calm your nerves, make your journeys more enjoyable, and cut down on the amount of pollution you emit– what could be better? Read on for a few tips that could help you reduce the time you spend sitting in traffic, watching the clock tick, and wondering if you’re ever going to move again…
1. Stay away from cities
If you consult a GPS, it will almost always try to direct you to drive through a city. This makes sense, as taking shortcuts through a city is usually the most direct route, which a GPS will calculate as being the shortest route.
However, GPS’ cannot factor in issues with traffic, which makes their estimated arrival time incredibly untrustworthy. If your route usually takes you through an area that is snarled up by commuters, then you may be best choosing a cross-country route instead.
There are numerous benefits to this. Firstly, if you frequently drive while tired (as many of us do thanks to early office hours), then taking a cross-country route is more likely to keep you alert. It’s easy to doze off or microsleep when you’re sitting in traffic, which can be problematic regarding safety. Secondly, you’ll actually keep moving, which will ease your anxiety about getting where you need to be on time– even if you’re taking a circuitous route, psychologically, you’ll feel better just because you’re on the move.
If you are concerned that taking a longer, but freer of traffic, route may have an impact on your gas usage, don’t be. Sitting in traffic consumes gas anyway, which is of absolutely no benefit at all. At least the gas you use taking a cross-country route will give you the mental benefits of taking such a route, which is better than just wasting it sitting in traffic.
2. Learn your shortcuts
Shortcuts are the best way of minimizing the time spent in traffic. Most of us learn shortcuts over the years of living in a specific area, but if you don’t have time for that, you need to go out of your way to learn all the routes that can save you time.
The best way to do this is with a good old-fashioned map. You want to focus on residential streets, as these often offer the best method of navigating past major intersections that can fall victim to traffic snares. Map out a few shortcuts for your most-used routes, and then do a test run outside of rush hour to see if they are effective.
Again, switching to these routes may technically make your journey longer in terms of distance, but they should save you a substantial amount of time. It’s up to you to decide which is more important.
3. Switch your vehicle
Cars are wonderful and extremely useful, but they are also large, which means they are often restricted by where they can go. If you find yourself stuck in traffic on a regular basis, then it might be worth considering a switch to a motorcycle.
Motorcycles have the advantage in high-traffic situations. They can pick and choose their lanes far more deftly than a car can and, in California, can even split lanes to ensure their fastest progress (other states have been urged to adopt the same law due to its benefits).
While switching from a car to a motorcycle might seem like a rather extreme choice, it’s definitely one worth considering. As well as the benefits of weaving — safely of course — through traffic, you’ll also save a fortune on gas and running costs, so it won’t be so expensive to sit stationery in traffic. You can enhance the savings by opting to browse best used motorcycles and purchasing a used bike, which will potentially save you thousands of dollars in purchase price and costs over the years.
4. Switch lanes
We’ve all sat in a traffic queue and watched another driver constantly switch lanes, always relocating to the lane that seems to be moving the fastest. Most of us tend to ignore this, deciding that switching lanes can’t make that much difference to our speed.
Well, it turns out the lane switchers might have been on to something. The Mythbusters tested lane switching a few years ago, and decided that yes, switching lanes can reduce the amount of time you spend in traffic.
Of course, you have to be incredibly careful when switching lanes, as merging without proper checking is a surefire route to an accident. You may also find your journey more stressful when switching lanes (the Mythbusters certainly did), and your constant switching may provoke and irritate other drivers. However, if you’re keen to get out of traffic as quickly as possible, it looks like there might be something to lane switching after all.
5. Switch your travel times
Obviously, this one is easier said than done, but if you can switch your travel times away from rush hours, then you should. You should always assume that the following times will be busiest:
• 7am – 10am
• 3pm – 6pm
If you can avoid traveling at these times, then you have the best chance of keeping yourself free from traffic jams.
Sitting in traffic is infuriating, but by following the tips above, you should be able to limit your exposure to this common driving irritant.