Sunday, May 27, 2012

Safe Driving Tips for Heavy Traffic Commutes

For many of us, the drive to work in the morning is a slow one. Rush hour traffic can easily turn a 10 minute commute into an hour long crawl. In truth much of this slowdown is unavoidable given the number of people taking to the road to get to work, but inconsiderate driving maneuvers are making the slowdown much more dramatic than it needs to be. With a more careful and considerate approach to navigating through heavy congestion, much of our daily rush hour traffic can be alleviated.

When heavy traffic hits, too many drivers look to exploit faster lanes to cut through the backup quicker. When a neighboring lane begins to open up, hurried drivers rush to change lanes in hopes to make their destination a minute or two faster, while causing major slowdowns for drivers behind them in the process. Although it may appear to get you where you need to go quicker, it is actually a selfish maneuver that only serves to increase the level of overall traffic for everyone. On an individual scale, this increased slowdown is minimal, but on a large scale, as is often the case in heavy traffic, the added backup is substantial.

When you find yourself in heavy traffic, stay in your lane. Unless you need to make your way to the next freeway exit, there is no need to make these unnecessary lanes changes. There are no fast lanes when congestion hits. In reality, much of the backup created in rush hour traffic actually comes from these impatient drivers trying to exploit faster lanes. In making these constant lane changes, both their original lane and the lane they move into are slowed. By sticking to your original lane, traffic can flow at a consistent pace, and sudden stops are avoided.

When lanes changes are necessary, take note of the speed of the next approaching vehicle in the lane you are attempting to enter. If their speed is such that you changing lanes into them would require them to slam on the breaks, wait for them to pass. The key to a safe lane change is to wait for a gap where your vehicle can easily fit into without breaking the lane's flow. There is no sense forcing your way into another lane when there is no room for it. Traffic moves at an inconsistent pace, and gaps between vehicles form frequently.

It is also vitally important to give proper signaling before making any lane changes. In traffic, this means engaging your turn signal well before you attempt the maneuver to ensure that everyone in the neighboring lane is aware of the impending move. If you simply dart into a new lane, other drivers may be caught off guard, prompting a sudden and dramatic stop which has the potential to cause an accident or increased slowing.

On the other side of the spectrum, it is also important to keep an eye on the indicator lights of cars in neighboring lanes looking to merge into yours. When another car wishes to enter your lane, their available space will dictate your response. If room is lacking and sudden stoppage would be needed to prevent contact with an incoming vehicle, you should continue forward, and let that car marge in behind you. If ample space is available, you should allow them access, and avoid quickly accelerating to maintain you spot in your lane.


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