If you live anywhere in the Atlanta area, you know how awful the traffic gets near the city. No ifs, ands or buts. It seems like it’s hardly safe to venture out on the roads any time from about 6:30 – 9am or 4:30 – 7pm, the peak rush-hour crunches. No matter how much you love Atlanta, it only takes sitting on 400 or 85 once to realize that you have to learn to accept how much Atlanta loves cars. And Atlanta traffic only gotten worse now that 85 has a gaping hole in the middle of it!
It’s kind of scary to take a look at how much time Atlanta drivers spend stuck in traffic. We might not want to know that Atlanta’s ranked fourth-worst in the country and eighth-worst in the world for traffic (yikes.) According to INTRIX, a company that examines traffic rates, Atlantans spent an average of 71 hours stuck sitting in peak traffic in 2016 (sorry to have to be the one to tell you.) All said that’s 10% of total drive time, regardless of traffic.
With all the time that we spend dealing with traffic, what can we do to be safer during our lengthy and often very frustrating commutes? According to drive-safely.net, one in four accidents occur during rush hour. The sheer number of cars, slow movement of traffic, and distractions all play a part in this statistic.
Since the congestion isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, here are some tips to survive the chaos that is Atlanta traffic.
1. Keep calm and carry on.
Yes, traffic is frustrating. It can really raise your blood pressure when you look out your window and realize that you could walk faster than your car is moving. It’s important to stay relaxed and calm while you’re driving so that you don’t get distracted and lose your focus. Keeping a level head reduces the chances of an accident. Take a deep breath and try not to get upset by the actions of other drivers (even if they do cut you off.)
2. Plan for the traffic and give yourself lots of time to get to work.
Yes, it’s a drag to get up earlier, but giving yourself more time will really help you reduce your stress level while you’re commuting – especially considering that 85 is out of commission for the time being. It’s easier to handle traffic when you’re not worrying about getting to the office late. Traffic is one of those things that’s both predictable and unpredictable. You know when it will happen, but not how bad it will be. Some days are worse than others due to accidents or lane closures, but if you’ve got extra time you won’t be stressed about it.
3. Do not get distracted.
Phones and food are both extremely tempting distractions. Resist them. Stay strong against the urge to check your phone, text, or even call anyone. The same goes for food. It’s important to stay focused on the road, as even a momentary lapse of attention can lead to an accident. Eyes on the road.
4. Map a different way to get to work.
If you can figure out a new way to get to work that avoids the worst of the traffic, try it out and see how it goes. Maybe you’ll find that it’s a less stressful way to go, even if the distance is slightly longer. While your new path might not be as the crow flies, it may end up saving you some time if there’s less traffic. This is especially important since you can’t cut through the city on 85 anymore. You might be forced to take a different route than normal.
Be conscious of safety while you’re thinking about a new route. If there are any dangerous segments, turns, etc. that make you nervous, try to avoid them.
5. Increase the fun.
Huh? Commute? Fun? Yes. Believe it or not, they’re not mutually exclusive. Bring along your favorite music or book on CD to help pass the time. It can even be as simple as preparing a travel mug of coffee. Your day will be much better if you have something you enjoy to cheer you up, and it’ll keep you calmer in the post-85 chaos. Do something to make yourself happy.
6. Make sure to take good care of your vehicle.
Choose a car that has strong safety ratings. You want a car that will protect you if you ever get into an accident. Make sure that you take good care of your car and keep it in good repair. Having something go wrong with your vehicle while you’re commuting could be extremely dangerous, especially where the brakes and gas are concerned.
7. Stick with the middle lane, but know where you have to get off.
Chill out in the middle lane on the highway. The right lane is usually stop-and-go because of merging and the left lane is used for passing, so neither of those are ideal. If you’ve got some distance to cover, stay in the middle.
Be aware of how close you’re getting to your exit. The more time you give yourself to change lanes to get off the highway, the less stressed you’ll be—and the safer you’ll be.
8. Be aware of when you’re driving.
The sun is not your friend when it’s shining right in your eyes. Commute time is at sunrise in the morning and sunset at night, so chances are you’ll get stuck driving with the sun in your eyes. So, get a pair of sunglasses to make it easier to see.
Also, condensation can be a major obstacle in the morning, when the temperature is cool but the day is starting to warm up. Make sure your defrosters work properly and clear the car of any condensation before embarking on your adventure.
9. Take extreme care when changing lanes.
Lane changes are a very hazardous thing. The chances of an accident are higher when you’re shifting into the next lane. Remember that your turn signals aren’t just there to look pretty—use them. Even if no one else on the highway uses them, use them. That way other drivers know what you’re going to do.
Be aware of any blind spots your vehicle has. There are usually spots at the rear corners where cars behind you can unintentionally hide, so be careful of those spots while you’re looking to see if it’s safe to change lanes.
10. Remember that you’re not the only driver on the road.
Well, if you were that would make the traffic a lot better. Be alert to what the cars around you are doing—rush hour makes people do strange things as they’re driving.
Make sure to give plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. If they have to brake suddenly, you’ll be able to stop safely and avoid a rear-end accident. Plus, if you were to get rear-ended you wouldn’t go flying into the car in front of you.
There are lots of things to love about Atlanta. Traffic is not one of them, especially with 85 out of commission for the foreseeable future. These tips will help you make the commute more bearable and help keep you safer while you’re getting to and from work. The trick is to reduce your stress level as much as possible and to drive safely.
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