Dealing with traffic jams has become such an integral part of the lives of those in big cities that we often don't even think about it. We have accepted it as a constant. We think nothing of a sixty to ninety minute drive, one way, amid foul-smelling and tainted air. My question is, does it really have to be this way?

The simple answer is no, it does not. There are a thousand little things that individual drivers can do to alleviate, perhaps eliminate, traffic jams.
Let's look at the reasons traffic jams happen and address each:

  • Accidents

  • We all know they happen. And when they do, we all gawk as if we've never seen one before. Here are a few things that would reduce the amount of accident-related traffic:

    • Don't gawk at the accident. Period. Go home and watch Cops or some other equally ridiculous "reality" show to get your jollies. There are people trying to get places and your rubber neck is in the way. Also, while your eyes are roaming the accident site, guess where they aren't? That's right, on the road. No need to belabor this point.

    • Avoid the accident altogether. If you know there is an accident ahead, take a different route and save yourself (and others) a headache.

    • If you are involved in an accident, make sure everyone is OK and then (if you can) move your vehicle off the road or into an emergency lane. There is some sort of rumor that you're not supposed to move a car that's been in an accident. This is not true. Get that thing off the road so the road can do its job.

  • Volume

  • This is mostly due to people trying to get to and from work. Special events can also be the culprit. Following are some ways to relieve this type of traffic:

    • Let other drivers get in front of you. Bear in mind, most gridlock occurs as a result of people trying to get on or off a highway, or at interchanges. The selfish nature of the average driver actually causes delays that result in gridlock. If you see someone with their blinker on trying to get over into your lane, let them. How much time did that cost you? A couple of seconds? You just saved them and the line of cars waiting on them to get over some time. So you lost a second or two, but many others gained a second or two. Do the math; it really works.

    • Don't tailgate. This follows the last tip. The more space between cars, the easier it is for merging traffic. Remember, gridlock begins where traffic merges. Keep some space between cars and allow others to get in front of you.

    • Avoid changing lanes to try to get in one that's moving faster. This never works. In fact, it adds to overall delay. Change lanes only when you need to.

    There is one final way to keep traffic jams down: Don't drive. =)