Navigating the Traffic Rat Race
Ask anyone in Northern Virginia what their top complaint is about the area, and most likely, traffic is at the top of their list. Fifteen miles can easily turn into an hour commute…if you’re lucky. As icing on the cake, not only is the traffic heavy, but drivers in the area can categorically be considered rude and aggressive. During heavily traveled holiday weekends, it just turns into a nightmare. You avoid Interstate 95 like the plague and have to add hours onto your travel plans. With all this madness, it is easy to lose sight of the basic safety rules of driving as it seems to become an every man for himself battle. In spite of this, we must force ourselves to go back to the basics of driver safety and etiquette.
Get Off My Bumper
No matter how close you drive to the car in front of you, they will not go any faster. Unless you plan on hitching a ride in their backseat (which won’t get you there any faster), back off! Follow the rule of thumb of allowing 3 seconds between you and the driver in front of you. This will give plenty of time to brake if they do or to pass if an opening clears up in the next lane. Chances are if you are riding their bumper, they will slow down even more just to make you mad.
Take Your Turn
We face many situations here where we are sitting in line trying to merge lanes. Most of the time, drivers are so dead set on not letting you in, you’ll sit there staring at them with a “Really?!” expression on your face while they refuse to even look at you. They couldn’t possibly let you in and get one car behind! This only causes bottlenecks and parking lots. If drivers would just go back to Kindergarten and learn to take turns again, then these merge lanes would move quickly and efficiently. Oh, and if someone is nice enough to let you over, wave and thank them!
Yes, it may be boring to just sit there in traffic. Get over it! Driving is not the time to put on makeup, shave, eat your breakfast, send an email, text, check your Facebook, or anything else. Luckily, laws are really starting to crack down on texting and driving, but there are so many other activities that drivers still try to do while driving. Your vehicle is capable of being a lethal weapon, so your full attention should be on the road and what cars are doing around you. Everything else can and must wait!
Slow it Down
Everyone is always in a hurry. You hit the ground running as soon as your alarm goes off and it doesn’t slow down until your head hits the pillow at night. That doesn’t make it ok to speed or drive recklessly, though. Limits are set for a reason, and speeding puts yourself and others around you at high risk for a fatal collision. Life is worth much more than making it to work on time. If you look at it practically, too, speeding or weaving in and out of lanes is likely to get you pulled over by a police officer, delaying you significantly further than abiding by the traffic laws. Instead, plan ahead to allow yourself plenty of travel time and slow it down!
By returning to the basic rules of driver safety and etiquette, you can help protect yourself from the madness of Northern Virginia traffic and hopefully inspire others to do the same!