Safe Driving in Heavy Traffic

As urbanisation drives many to the cities and vehicle ownership increases, road users have to prepare themselves with the skills and attitude required to drive in heavy traffic much more often.

Heavy traffic could be caused by numerous factors including:

  • Usual rush-hour / peak-hour traffic
  • Heavy traffic after delays caused by roadworks, road closures, road crashes.
  • Environmental factors such as snow, mist, rockfalls and flooding causing road closures.
  • Temporary closures caused by traffic and police enforcement.
  • Increased travel during holidays, the festive season and Easter.

Without the right attitude and driving techniques in these conditions, driving can become very dangerous. In this section, we will offer advice on how road users can be safer when driving in heavy and congested traffic.

Planning the Drive

Even though not all instances of heavy traffic may be predictable, there are often advisories, alerts or signs that could point towards the conditions to be expected.

  • Safe and defensive road behaviour starts even before you get on the road.
  • Driving in heavy traffic requires increased focus and attention, placing more strain on the body – a good rest before the drive would help prevent driving tiredness.
  • Checking weather and road conditions in advance helps you plan a route and more awareness about what to expect along the way.
  • Plan in advance -do not be the cause of your frustration and need to rush!
  • Often leaving fifteen minutes before the start or after the end of peak hour can dramatically decrease the flow of traffic on your drive.
  • Plan to avoid the worst holiday peak traffic periods when many highways become congested.
  • Give yourself extra time to get to your destination and don’t set yourself unreasonable/unattainable targets for the estimated time of arrival.
  • Schedule regular rest stops.
  • Rather stop along the route to call people at the holiday destination and inform them of delays than taking risks to arrive at a specified time.
  • Keep in mind that road crashes, road works etc. could add additional time as well as frustrations to your travel.
  • Listen or browse for travel advisories on the radio and social media portals such as Twitter.
  • Use technology – Traffic apps on your phone and radio reports could reveal insights into congested areas
  • Always be alert to possible alternative roads/routes to your destination.
  • Some of the modern GPS devices have “live traffic” capabilities re-directing traffic away from heavily congested roads.

Photo by Aayush Srivastava/Pixabay

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