If there's one phrase in the English language that's completely incorrect, it's "rush hour". When you're in bumper-to-bumper traffic, nobody's going to be in a big rush to go anywhere, even if they want to.
It's also no coincidence that rush hour traffic has some of the highest incidences of accidents and fender-benders. A lot of problems can be avoided by just using some common sense. Here are some tips to keep yourself out of trouble during rush hour:
- Pay attention: Of course you should do that whenever you're behind the wheel, but it's even more important during rush hour. Keep your focus not just on the car in front of you, but the cars in lanes next to you as well. If possible, it's a good idea to keep track of what's going on several car lengths in front as well, as this can help you to anticipate issues ahead.
- Use your mirrors: Your awareness of what's going on in heavy traffic should include the vehicles behind you as well. Check those side mirrors and rearview frequently, especially as traffic slows down. You might consider wide-angle or blind spot mirrors, especially if you're driving a big truck or SUV.
- Merge safely: Always use your blinkers to let other drivers know when you need to change lanes —hopefully they'll be paying attention, too. Merging takes a certain amount of assertiveness, but don't just cut off other drivers in your need to get over.
- Be nice: Treat other drivers like you like to be treated. Let other drivers over when they need to merge, and let them know it's okay with a little sideways flip of the hand. When someone else lets you in, always give them the "thank you" wave. It'll make you feel better and make the other driver feel good.
- Don't get distracted: Yes, being stuck in rush hour is boring and frustrating. Don't get so bored that you start fooling around with your phone, twiddling the radio excessively or looking for things in the car. It only takes a second for the driver in front of you to stop abruptly... and then you stop abruptly by rear-ending him.
- Keep your cool: Nobody likes being stuck in traffic any better than you do. Everyone's in the same predicament, so you might as well just get used to it and keep the right attitude. Don't take other drivers' slights or inconsiderate behavior personally and don't get mad. Do some deep breathing or whatever you need to do to relax (although meditation while driving isn't advised). You should also keep track of traffic updates on the radio, put on some music that you like, and consider leaving earlier, if possible, to make it to your destination on time.
How do you make it through rush hour safely? Let us know in the comments.