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Coping with Congestion

The NHTSA has provided a great list of tips to keep that temper down, and to help deal with the traffic jam.

Traffic Congestion Leads to Aggressive Driving Heavy and slow-moving traffic makes many drivers anxious, leading to such dangerous acts as tailgating and weaving in and out of traffic.

Crowded roads leave little room for error, fueling suspicion and hostility among drivers and encouraging them to take personally the innocent mistakes of other drivers.

Once freed of congestion, drivers often find themselves pressed for time. This tempts them to speed and run red lights, thus perpetuating the cycle of aggression.

So here are the tips!

Plan Ahead

If you know that your drive to work averages between 10 and 30 minutes, give yourself 40 minutes. Don’t leave late and expect to make up for lost time on the road.


Give the drive your full attention. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by talking on your cellular phone, shaving, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, or reading the newspaper. Distractions lead to mistakes, and mistakes lead to hostility. 


Tune the radio to your favorite “easy listening” station. Music can calm your nerves and help you to enjoy your time in the car. If you have a CD or tape player, treat yourself to some new tapes and allow yourself to listen to them only in the car. 

Obey the Speed Limit

Driving too fast frequently leads to a condition called “bottle-necking.” This is when drivers start out well spaced but end up at the same place at the same time, bringing traffic to a standstill. Traffic flows best when everyone is traveling at about the same rate. Drive the posted speed limit.

Identify Alternate Routes

The shortest distance between two points may not always be a straight line. Try mapping out an alternate route. Even if it looks longer on paper, you may find it is less congested. However, if you have chosen the road less traveled, don’t turn it into a racetrack by speeding.

Vary Your Commuting Schedule

Talk to your employer about adopting more flexible work hours, allowing employees the option of starting their day either before or after the rush hour.

Try Telecommuting

No single technological breakthrough has the potential to alter our work environments as completely as the Internet. With the invention of e-mail and the World Wide Web, many workers are finding that there is no reason to leave home. Everything they need to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively is at their fingertips. Not surprisingly, the trend in working at home or from satellite offices is growing quickly. Talk to your employer about allowing employees this option once or twice a week or more. You might also point out that car crashes cost employers billions in medical care and sick leave each year.

Use Public Transportation

Most communities offer some form of public transportation. Try it out. Even if you find it less convenient than walking out the door and getting into your car, public transportation can give you some much needed relief from life behind the wheel. Try taking it just once or twice a week in the beginning. Bring a newspaper or magazine along for the ride.

Move Closer to Your Job

Many people are finding that, despite the cost or inconvenience involved, moving closer to work is the best solution for avoiding a frustrating commute. Living closer to your job not only spares you a hectic drive, it also gives you more free time.

Change Jobs

This may sound like a drastic step to take simply to avoid congestion, but a long and difficult commute to and from work every day can seriously diminish your quality of life. Many people are finding that it is not worth it.

Just Be Late

If all else fails, just be late. No one ever died simply because they were late for work. But many people have died on the roads while rushing to get to work on time.

Information provided by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration