We’ve all been there – stuck behind the wheel, frustrated at the lack of progress in front of us as we crawl forward at a snail’s pace. Unfortunately, traffic is an inevitable part of life on the road, and most of the time it feels like there’s little we can do to avoid the congestion we find ourselves caught up in.
Some areas of the UK are notoriously worse than others, of course – and this interactive map shows the average delays on our motorways and A-roads. Part of the battle when it comes to avoiding traffic jams is knowing what causes them in the first place, but there are a few handy hints and tips you can follow to help you cut out the congestion from your life.
This is our guide on how to avoid traffic and all the trials and tribulations that come with it.
Sadly, there are many circumstances that can lead to long queues on our roads, which partly explains why they’ve become such a frequent sight across the country. Here are some of the more common reasons that may leave you lamenting long delays.
According to data from the Department for Transport (DfT), there were more than 130,000 road casualties of all severities in Great Britain in the 12 months ending June 2020. Thankfully, that figure represented a decrease of 16%, but is still clear evidence that hundreds of accidents happen every day and that people do get hurt.
It’s almost impossible to avoid traffic jams that form as a result of an accident, but rubbernecking can often make the problem worse. Not only do cars grind to a halt on one side of the road as the emergency services deal with a collision, but those on the opposite side slow right down to take a look, which causes congestion in both directions.
When it comes to driving in winter, it’s imperative to take extra care and that often means reducing your speed. The inevitable outcome is that the queues start to back up, especially if some vehicles are struggling on surfaces which are heavily covered in snow or ice.
Even in the middle of summer, the famously fickle UK weather can throw up a surprise, and a sudden thunderstorm can soon cause hazardous driving conditions, increasing the risk of accidents.
Statistics from the DfT tell us there were 38.6 million licensed vehicles in Great Britain at the end of 2020. With so many cars, vans, buses, lorries and motorbikes on our roads every day, a certain degree of congestion is simply inescapable.
Of course, the situation is often exacerbated during peak hours – for example when commuters are heading to and from work and when parents are tackling the school run. When so many people are heading in the same direction at the same time, it’s extremely difficult to avoid traffic congestion.
Most people drive safely on the motorway, but those who don’t have the potential to cause serious accidents and major congestion. For example, getting too close to the car in front can force you to brake, which triggers a chain reaction as every car behind has to slow down.
Lane hogging or sudden changes without prior warning can also contribute to this issue. If driving habits were improved across the board, we would all avoid traffic jams more easily and our roads would be filled with much happier motorists!
So, those are some of the common causes, and being alive to them may help you to avoid traffic congestion. Here are some other useful tips that might allow you to enjoy your driving, rather than getting behind the wheel with that feeling of dread.
Are you restricted by a rigid timetable? If you have no other choice but to set off during peak times, it can be tricky to avoid traffic jams, but if you can afford to be flexible then you might find yourself enjoying a much smoother journey.
If you’re heading into work, for example, can you speak to your boss about shifting your hours slightly earlier or later? It could make all the difference and ensure you arrive at the office in a much better frame of mind. Setting off to visit family for the weekend? Saturday morning might be the best time to leave to avoid traffic, compared to the woes that traditionally blight a Friday afternoon.
Don’t be afraid to take a detour and try a route that’s less familiar. If your usual journey is a torturous crawl in stop-start traffic, perhaps consider a more scenic route to lighten the spirits. It may be longer in terms of miles covered, but you’ll feel better for being constantly on the move, and by avoiding the worst of the congestion, you might find that on some days you arrive at your destination even earlier. Plus, who knows what new adventures it might throw up?
Ahead of your journey, make sure you’re well prepared by listening to the radio or checking online for local traffic reports. They’ll be able to warn you of any incidents, which could help you to make a decision on delaying your departure or seeking out alternative directions to avoid the traffic. Otherwise, you risk joining long queues – a fate that could easily have been prevented.
These days, the modern car is kitted out with plenty of innovative technology. As well as safety features, luxury interior touches and driver assistance programmes, your infotainment system can help you avoid traffic with a route planner. When using your in-built satellite navigation, you’ll be updated when there is congestion ahead and you can select an alternative course that takes you away from the problem.
Similarly, you can use one of a number of apps to avoid traffic jams. Google and iPhone maps show you where you can expect to encounter congestion, but be sure to only check these before you’ve set off or when pulled over in a safe place.
Getting behind the wheel isn’t only about getting from A to B. And it doesn’t have to mean you’ll be sat in long queues, either. Hopefully, by following these tips, you’ll become a pro at learning how to avoid traffic jams and your motoring experience will be all the better for it.
Even when you’re caught up in congestion, driving doesn’t have to be a chore – and having the right car can help with that. Here at Jardine, we have thousands of new vehicles from some of the world’s leading brands, so why not get in touch or find your nearest dealership today.
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