The Skinny On Making the Best of Commuter Traffic

Make the Most of Commuter Traffic

Okay, you live outside a big American city. You love being in the thick of it, experiencing the culture, interesting culinary options, and unique attractions. That’s the good news. The bad news, you sit in traffic to and from work for long periods of time and it’s getting old.

If you do not have the option of jumping on a commuter train to get to/from work each day, you have to suck it up and deal with commuter traffic. However, there are options to “make the best of it”. You just have to embrace the options and open your mind to the possibilities!

The Facts

In America since 1970:

    • The U.S. population has grown by 32%
    • The number of licensed drivers has grown by 64%
    • The number of registered vehicles has grown by 90%
    • The vehicle miles traveled has grown by 131%
    • Total number of road miles has grown by only 6%

Do you see where I’m going with this? Our highway systems have not kept up with our population growth and growing number of drivers. This is why we are sitting in commuter traffic, day in and day out in the United States.

We all know how frustrating construction zones are, but until our infrastructure catches up, traffic jams are the way of life in American cities. Fortunately for us, we do have options.

Work the Problem

Of course, if you have a flexible work schedule, the best option is to avoid the traffic by going to/from the office at off hours. If you don’t have the flexibility to be at work at off hours, there are smart ways to avoid staring at the brake lights of other cars for hours on end.

  • Make plans to get that workout done before/after work, by picking a gym close to the office, working out, showering
  • Mix up the route a little by noting when the best time to take the freeway vs. surface roads (just because you’ve always jumped on the highway, doesn’t mean you should)
  • Map out alternative routes and actually try them out
  • Check on traffic conditions before you leave the home
  • Use a GPS device during the commute, but safely, only if your vehicle has Bluetooth capabilities to listen to warnings through the vehicle speakers and change the route accordingly

Alleviate Stress

So, you do not have the option to avoid commuter traffic outside the normal window of time. Quite possibly your job requires you to be present when others are at work too or the daycare dropoff/pickup times are set in stone. Whatever the reason, the first step is to adjust your attitude to “make the best of the situation”.

Now that your attitude is adjusted, stop switching lanes. Cars that switch lanes constantly only arrive at a destination 15 seconds faster. Is the stress of merging one lane over worth 15 seconds? Not really, so just stay the course and find something else to concentrate on to occupy your mind.

Of course, our digital world provides much-needed outlets to help alleviate the stress incurred by sitting idle or moving very slowly on congested thoroughfares. Sometimes the car is the only place you can enjoy your music! However, there are other options.

Try some of these mindful, informative and/or entertaining options to alleviate stress during your next commute:

  • Take the time to be mindful: Pay attention to your surrounding, take the time to really breathe, reflect on what you are thankful for instead of the jerk who “just cut you off”.
  • Listen to digital books: Local libraries have books for download on your phone for free, no need to break the bank purchasing audio books.
  • Subscribe and listen to Podcasts: There are lots of free options out there that are inspiring, thrilling, informative etc.

As Americans we love our cars, there is no doubt about that, however, now is the moment to take control of the time we spend in commuter traffic. The morning/evening commute doesn’t have to be a waste of time. Look at your options and make the best of it. I promise you will be happy that you did!

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