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Tips for Driving in a Traffic Jam

Cars in traffic

As someone living in Texas, you’ve likely seen your fair share of heavily congested roadways. While the traffic in Dallas is certainly bad, it’s just as awful, if not worse, in the state’s other major cities like Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin too.

The sad part is that Dallas interstates aren’t the only problem. State highways and the city’s surface streets can be chock full of motorists moving at a snail’s pace.

No one really likes getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. This scenario often motivates bored motorists to find ways to distract themselves, whether it involves reading a book, turning up the music, taking care of personal hygiene, jumping on their smartphone to text, surfing the internet, or making a call.

All of these above-referenced factors, plus the propensity for distracted motorists to take their hands off the wheel and feet off their brakes, put drivers at risk of becoming entangled in preventable accidents. We will highlight more effective strategies and tips for driving in a traffic jam that will hopefully aid you in avoiding a crash below.

How Big of an Issue Is Road Congestion in Dallas?

A 2021 study carried out by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute ranked the state’s top 100 most congested roadways. At least five of the top 20 were located in the Dallas metro area, including:

  • S. 75
  • Woodall Rodgers Freeway
  • Stemmons Freeway
  • Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway
  • East R.L. Thornton Freeway

The study’s authors noted that the peak times at which congestion is the worst on most of these roadways are right around 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., especially on weekdays. The researchers also discovered that the high concentration of motorists on certain roads, like U.S. 75, has only worsened over the past few years.

Traffic currently tacks on an average of 18 minutes to motorists’ commutes.

Factors That Result in Traffic Congestion

There are a variety of factors that can result in roadblocks or traffic jams, including:

  • Poorly designed roadways
  • Ineffective traffic light patterns
  • Automobile accidents
  • Broken down vehicles
  • Road over-capacity
  • An abundance of pedestrians or bicyclists
  • Road construction
  • Police presence in the area
  • Poor visibility due to the sun, rain, or snow

Each of these factors can easily bring traffic to a standstill at any time of the day. The abundance of cars trying to make their way home from work, school, and other activities only makes matters worse.

How Should You Navigate Roadways When a Traffic Jam Lies Ahead?

Motorists generally have a good idea of the most heavily congested roadways and take shortcuts whenever possible to avoid them. There’s always a chance of the go-to alternative route being heavy with traffic if, for example, there is a roadway closure or an event in the area.

Situations like this often motivate motorists to try to break free from the congestion. That’s not always an option, though. Strategies you might need to employ if stuck in traffic include:

  • Focus on driving instead of filling your time with distractions while your vehicle isn’t moving.
  • Keep an eye on other motorists’ braking patterns, including whether they’re pulsing them or have their foot firmly planted on the pedal.
  • Avoid weaving between lanes in hopes that one will allow you to move ahead faster than another.
  • Take caution not to firmly apply the gas to significantly increase your speed, making it necessary to brake abruptly.

While it can always be beneficial to follow the 3-second rule, it’s even more critical to do so when you’re stuck in highly congested traffic. Why, and how does that rule work?

Why the 3-Second Rule Is Critical in Heavy Traffic

The 3-second rule is an approach that is often used to teach new and reckless drivers how to avoid tailgating their fellow motorists. The rule is based on the understanding that it takes most drivers approximately three seconds to notice an obstruction in the roadway (like a stranded motorist), apply their brake, and reach a full stop without colliding into the obstruction.

Most safety analysts note that the best way to apply this 3-second rule is as follows:

  • The trailing motorist starts by picking a stationary object, like a mile marker sign or reflector.
  • That driver should make a note of when the motorist in front of them passes the inanimate item.
  • The motorist starts counting to three seconds.
  • That trailing driver makes a note of when they reach the stationary object.

The goal is for three or more seconds to have elapsed between the time the leading motorist and trailing one reach the same inanimate object. Safety analysts suggest that three seconds is the bare minimum time a motorist should give oneself as a distance between them and a driver ahead of them.

Motorists should apply the same rule if they plan to pass someone too. If there’s not at least a 3-second clearance on the motorist behind them, then they shouldn’t overtake that car.

Drivers should increase the 3-second rule to more like a 5 or 6-second one under certain circumstances, such as when there’s inclement weather or poor road conditions. Motorists with poorly maintained braking systems and truckers carrying heavy loads should give themselves more time to stop too.

Ask any car accident lawyer, and they will tell you they have many prospective clients reach out to them after having been injured because a motorist tailgated them. These types of accidents are completely preventable when motorists employ the 3-second rule.

What Types of Accidents Most Commonly Occur in Heavy Traffic Conditions?

Rear-end crashes happen the most when motorists are in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The severity of injuries motorists suffer in these crashes will depend on the force with which the impact occurs. Motorists who apply their brakes abruptly are likely to place stress on the vehicle’s crush zones, potentially leaving occupants at risk of getting hurt if damage carries over into the automobile’s passenger compartment.

Passenger car operators face an additional danger to being stuck in a traffic jam with truckers. Rear-end collisions with trucks can cause underride accidents. These are ones in which the vehicle’s hood gets stuck under the rear portion of a tractor’s trailer. These crashes can be particularly catastrophic.

Many individuals think that the car accidents that happen in road congestion can’t be that serious. Any Buckingham & Vega Law Firm car accident lawyer will quickly tell you that’s not the case, though. If you suspect that a motorist didn’t follow the above tips for driving in a traffic jam, which resulted in your injury accident, reach out to us. We can advise you of your right to recover compensation for your crash-related expenses. 

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