One of the most common problems facing modern drivers is the dreaded traffic jam. Characterised by long tailbacks and endless queues of traffic, this problem can leave you feeling stuck, stranded and out of luck. With other motorists feeling the pressure, moving lanes and beeping horns – what’s the best way to deal with a traffic jam and get where you want to go, fast?
Plan Ahead to Avoid Traffic Jams
Traffic jams can strike at the worst of times. If you have to catch an important flight or pick someone up from the other side of the country then why not plan ahead? It’s better to be a couple of hours early than 5 minutes late if there’s no flexibility in your schedule. Take a book with you or a laptop to do some work. You can always download a couple of your favourite shows and watch them whilst you wait at the other end.
And if you do hit a traffic jam you’ll thank yourself several times over for giving yourself extra time and space to arrive on time.
Watch the Weekends
Talk to any serious road user and they’ll tell you there are two times during the week that they’d rather not be out on a big journey. Of course, they’re talking about Monday morning and Friday afternoon. Both these times are when weekly commuters are making their trips to work and from long-distance jobs. This leads to increased congestion on the roads.
If you can reschedule your trip to another time, do it. You’ll be relieved to have clearer roads and less stress.
Let the Engine Cool Down
Traffic jams seem to be more common in the summer with the press giving certain days ominous titles like ‘Frantic Friday’. School holidays, trips away and a general out and about feeling amongst the general public can all conspire to bring more users onto the road.
Should you get stuck in a jam there’s nothing wrong with turning the engine off completely and letting the car get a bit of air. It might even help the person behind the wheel and any passengers cool off too.
The truth of the matter is that everyone on the road has to be somewhere. Whether you’re on a timescale or deadline, you’re not alone when in a traffic jam.
Levels of frustration all around you are likely to be rising, so do you want to increase the anger or try to diffuse the situation. Keeping cool is an art form. Let other people make mistakes. Stay on your course and don’t try any underhand moves like swapping lanes repeatedly or getting too close to other drivers.
You can always call ahead to any meeting if you’re going to be late. Put on some gentle music and take a few deep breaths. If you have young children in the back try eye-spy or guessing games. Keep tablets and laptop DVD players as a last resort for entertainment.
Take a Break
On some of the longest hauls take a hint when you hit a jam. If you can see congestion coming your way with a car full of family members, why not take a break?
If you do your research on the route you’re likely to take, you can even find some different stop off points that won’t be as crowded and expensive as the motorway service stations. Consider taking a detour to a national park or lake where everyone can stretch their legs and even have a little adventure.
Tyres and Tarmac
Whilst it might be quite desperate out there, don’t fall prey to other driver’s bullying tactics. Remember to leave a good gap between yourself and the car in front, waiting to see some tyres and tarmac before you move. Yes, other drivers will push you and beep their horns. Remain impervious to their efforts.
Many road and mapping applications now have actual updates that keep you on top of traffic movements. One of the most popular is Waze, which is a sat nav application that tells you about jams and predicted delays on your route using real time data that’s constantly updated from other users on the road.
This useful bit of kit works straight from free download onto your smartphone and will suggest alternative routes to keep you on course and on time. In rushed situations, it can be a real lifesaver.
Traffic jams can be caused by a number of reasons. At best, road maintenance will be the culprit, restoring surfaces and mending problems with the road. These types of jam tend to be slow-moving, but calmer.
Other types of jam, which are caused by accidents on the road can be extremely frustrating. There’s always a tendency for drivers to slow down and survey the roadside scenes of bashed vehicles and the police clean up. Don’t be that person. Keep your speed whilst passing any bad scenes. Maintain your dignity and allow those who’ve been affected to keep theirs too.
Some people out there prefer to avoid jams by taking the good old fashioned back roads. Once upon a time these were the only way for drivers to get from A to B and many seasoned professionals would spend hours in roadside cafes discussing the best routes across the country. It was almost a badge of honour for drivers. Well, these roads haven’t disappeared. They’re still there and it can often be something of an adventure, especially if you suspect blockages and serious delays on other strips of the highway. Plan a route less well-travelled and you may find that you get where you’re going a whole lot faster.
And A Final, Sleepy Note
You have probably noticed that the majority of the UK likes to turn in sometime after the sun goes down. There’s always the option to take it easy and travel under the spell of darkness, which can be hugely beneficial if you don’t mind being out alone under the starry sky. Fewer people like to travel at night and this can turn the whole journey into a dreamlike trip that doesn’t have the same hassles as the daytime. Just make sure you’re well-rested before you set out on a nighttime adventure.