Driving in a sea of cars, filled with people caught in the in-between of work and home, is difficult and taxing. You need to be aware of so many changing obstacles, but your attention sometimes drifts to your phone or your absent-minded thoughts. If driving amongst so many others intimidates you—or if you could simply use a reminder—here are some safe driving practices in a traffic jam you should implement.
Discreet, Defensive Driving
The first thing that comes to many people’s minds when they think of bumper-to-bumper traffic is road rage, whether they experience it or not. To stay safe and avoid angering other drivers, focus on discreet driving. This means driving consistently, not varying your speed or direction suddenly, signaling lane changes, and, most importantly, trying hard to stay out of the way of other drivers. Vindictively cutting someone off as they try to pass on the shoulder may feel good in the moment, but this hazards an accident while potentially irritating the other driver.
The best policy is to take defensive maneuvers when necessary, which include being aware of unpredictable drivers and evading them when possible. It’s also helpful to leave space for these maneuvers so you don’t get stuck. Though one might think that defensive driving involves going toe-to-toe with a reckless driver, you’re safer when you defend yourself by not drawing undue attention to yourself.
Keep Your Distance & Put Down the Phone
Related to defensive driving but worth specific mention are two safe driving strategies in a traffic jam: Keep your distance from the car in front of you and resist the urge to check your phone. While you may feel pressure to move forward to cover every inch available to you, maintaining some space allows you room for an evasive maneuver, if necessary, which decreases your risk of rear-ending someone.
Also, don’t let your tortoise-like speeds fool you into a false sense of security. It’s not safe to check your phone in traffic. Doing so takes your eyes from the cars around you, potentially leading to a collision because you didn’t notice a sudden stop or lane-change.
Maintain Your Car
Finally, before you even get into a traffic jam, make sure you keep up with car maintenance. Driving in traffic is complicated—don’t further complicate things because you sustain an avoidable flat, an engine issue, or something else while in traffic. For example, keep up with your brakes, which need to be in working order for repeated braking in traffic. Stop into an Oklahoma tires shop to replace worn tires with quality ones that won’t go flat when you’re stuck in that sea of cars.