Like millions of people every day, I have to drive in rush hour traffic. Maybe I’m blessed because I get to do it twice. How lucky am I? Instead of rush hour, I would prefer to drive in rush minute, but that will never happen. I joke because in reality, why get upset about it? It is what it is. Some of us have to spend over an hour to reach our destination in rush hour. It can take a toll on us, but there are things you can do to help keep your stress level down.
The first thing to do to help you keep your sanity is to accept it. You don’t have to like the fact you need to drive in rush hour traffic. You just need to accept it as part of your driving life. Just like driving in snowy weather. I may not like it, but considering where I live, I do accept it.
Let’s face facts, driving in rush hour will mean a lot of stop and go traffic. Remove your distractions within your vehicle before starting your commute. Many drivers will have their coffee with them, so decide when it’s best to have a sip. If all the traffic around you has stopped and so are you, take a quick drink. Tilting your head back while in stop and go traffic may cause you to be late responding to brake lights ahead of you. You should also set up your music ahead of time if that’s what you like to do. It stops you from being distracted while in motion trying to get that good tune. Put your phone on silent and put that away as well. Loose objects can also distract you, so keep those secured as well.
Choosing the lane that will allow you to easily reach your destination is obviously helpful. Plan your route to ensure you’re in that lane soon enough to avoid making last minute lane changes. Many drivers make the error of last minute changes. This adds risk to themselves and other road users. Early lane changes mean less risk of collisions, less stress for you and a calmer driving environment.
Speaking of lane changes, are you the type of driver who tends to weave in and out of traffic, trying to get ahead? It’s not worth it. I see it happen just about every day and I often pass that driver who was trying to get ahead. Stay patient and choose that lane which flows the best. On the expressway, I choose the lane that allows other drivers a safe entry onto the freeway. It helps with the “zipper effect” so traffic can blend in and flow nicely. And avoid tailgating. You need time to see brake lights, time to get your foot from the gas to the brake and time to stop. More about tailgating here.
Drivers make mistakes. I get that. We all make mistakes from time to time. Remember that if a driver cuts you off, they most likely didn’t do it on purpose. Don’t take it personally. They were just trying to do a lane change; maybe to avoid another driver. Perhaps they thought they had more room than they actually had. They weren’t trying to annoy you….as much as you may think they were.
Let’s talk loss of time. There will be slowdowns that aren’t always there each time you make that commute. There may be added road construction or a collision that slows down traffic. Leave early enough that will allow you to reach your destination on time just in case there are slowdowns. If the slowdown causes you to be later than normal, take a deep breath. It’s better to be slightly late than involved in a collision or get a ticket because of aggressive driving. Talk to your employer about making up lost time if that was to happen.
If driving in this traffic isn’t your thing, try alternatives. Use public transit if it’s available. It gives you time to relax before you reach your destination. Another option is to share the drive by carpooling. It can reduce the cost of fuel, maintenance and perhaps parking costs if you share the drive with other people. It can also help reduce your stress level since you get to relax as the passenger from time to time.
Removing this kind of stress can help you make better driving choices, whether you drive in rush hour or rush minute.