Do’s and Don’ts for Dealing with Heavy Traffic

Morning and evening Monday through Friday. If you’re driving in the Albuquerque metro area, you’re likely facing some stop-and-go spots. If you find that you’re spending a lot of time sitting still, you have some choices:

  1. Find a new route
  2. Learn to enjoy life at rolling speed
  3. Get increasingly frustrated

Option #3 is obviously a recipe for disaster. But we have some tips to facilitate a quicker route or adjust your attitude.

Rerouting

Traffic is highly variable, but for the most part, people take the most direct route from point A to point B. Since “Point B” for a large percentage of the north-central New Mexico population is downtown Albuquerque, congestion is common on both major routes into it—I-25 and I-40. That leaves a lot of roads-less-traveled to find a new route that, even if slightly longer, may shave some time off your commute.

If you want to find a new route to avoid heavy traffic, DO:

  • Plan your route. Starting off on “auto pilot” and deciding at the last minute to try a new route may set you up for a more frustrating commute. While many roads may have lighter traffic, many routes also have more stop lights, stop signs, school zones and pedestrian crossings that can tack on more time than your original route. So, rather than just jerking the wheel at the next off ramp, plan the course you want to take before getting in your car.
  • Make Plans A, B and C. Since you’re planning a new route, plan a few in case you find out that in the morning or evening, your alternate routes present different obstacles or you just don’t like the scenery.
  • Use real-time traffic resources. Modern technology allows you to face your commute informed about live traffic conditions. When you map your route, Google maps and similar navigation tools can show you traffic and may even suggest alternate routes that will get you there faster.

DON’T:

Choose a route that could get you lost or route you through a part of town that makes you feel unsafe. There’s no reason to make a rerouting experiment into a horrifying experience.

Relax and Enjoy the Ride

There are some destinations that really have one good way to get there—maybe because of construction or weather conditions. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, then there’s nothing else you can do but learn how to enjoy being part of the Great American Gridlock Experience.

To help you relax in heavy traffic, DO:

  • Breathe deeply. When speed is reduced and you have nothing but time, use it to practice deep breathing, which has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and regulate circulation. How ironic—heavy traffic could actually help you manage your stress!
  • Pick your favorite tunes, pump up the volume and have a karaoke concert. Singing encourages deep breathing and helps lift your mood. You may actually arrive to your destination happier than you were before your sat in traffic.
  • Catch up (if Bluetooth-enabled). Everyone has friends and family that we just never seem to have time to talk to—until you get stuck in heavy traffic. If your vehicle is equipped with integrated mobile capabilities, voice-dial them up and chat your way to work or home at minimal speed.

DON’T:

Text. A lot of rear-end accidents happen in low-speed traffic. Texting takes your eyes and attention off the road, creating the “perfect” conditions for accidents. And don’t be fooled, low-speed accidents can cause high-dollar damage.

Surf the Web. Like texting, surfing the Internet on your mobile device behind the wheel is a distraction, which is unsafe at any speed.

Do you have any more suggestions for dealing safely and effectively with traffic? We’d love to hear them. Post your ideas on our Facebook page.