In a growing world, traffic is a fact of life. Small towns are becoming congested, and major cities are flooded with vehicles. London, New York, and Paris are among the most crowded places on Earth. And if you aren’t used to significant traffic, the everyday sea of cars, vans, and buses is somewhat daunting at first. However, with some common sense, you can easily handle the traffic of a big city as a driver or commuter.
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Beware of Bad Drivers
One of the scariest things about our roads isn’t the vehicles themselves, but some of the idiots driving them. Quite often, incidents beg the question of how someone could secure a driving license in the first place. And while plain lousy driving is an annoyance, the roads are filled with inconsiderate drivers who think it’s OK to be drunk behind the wheel. A car accident by a drunk driver accounts for over a third of road fatalities. And while drinking is bad enough, there’s the added distraction of a modern car such as electronics and smartphones.
Don’t Use Backroads
Every city has major roadways that are used by almost everyone. They flow with traffic that supplies the more minor roads, like arteries and veins. However, they become congested from time to time for various reasons. Congestion can cause delays, and you might become late for an appointment or work. In this case, it might be tempting to use back roads as a shortcut, but there are several reasons why this is a bad idea. First, it’s almost impossible to tell where they go unless you know them well. Next, backroads often lead to dead ends or private areas.
Know Peak Times
You can avoid most traffic congestion by knowing the peak times of your city. All cities have them, and they usually revolve around the workday. For instance, morning traffic peak times occur between 8 am, and 9 am when most people are going to work or taking the kids to school. And again between 3 pm and 6 pm when people are coming home. You can avoid peak-time congestion by getting to work a little earlier or staying a little later. Many offices offer flexible work times, and something can usually be arranged with your boss.
Watch for Pedestrians
Of course, it isn’t only vehicles that are dangerous on the roads. Pedestrians can just as likely cause an accident as another car, van, or bus. Like bad drivers, some people don’t pay attention when using roads. A pedestrian often crosses a street without even looking. Typically, they are using their phone. Therefore, it is best to stay just as vigilant towards food traffic as you do towards vehicular traffic. It is also advised that you drive carefully past schools and watch out for kids who like to run into roads without first looking to see any cars.
Plan Your Journey
You can avoid most of the woes of a bad city driving experience if you know exactly where to go. Back in the day, this was a little more challenging. However, modern technology makes it pretty simple to plan a journey. GPS systems come as standard with most new vehicle manufacturers. However, you can use Google Maps to plan a trip on your phone when driving long-distance. Modern systems don’t only inform you of the best route. Still, they will also let you know of any road closures, accidents, or predicted adverse weather.
Consider Public Transport
Of course, using your own car to get around a city isn’t the only option. All cities and towns have public transport. While some are inefficient, such as the UK’s current farce of a train system, most are excellent. In most major cities, the trains and buses run like clockwork and are very dependable. You can also save money by using public transport as it’s often cheaper than running a car. In addition, the congestion of large cities means you are more likely to avoid traffic issues, such as being late, if you use public transport links instead.
Use Bike Lanes
Further to public transport, many large cities also offer dedicated bike lanes. These lanes are for bicycles only and cannot be used by pedestrians, cars, or buses. Because of this, you can often make it to work much faster if you cycle a short distance. For example, a walk to a bus stop, waiting for a bus, and then riding it to work 3 miles away could take 45 minutes. You could cycle that distance on a dedicated bike lane between 10 to 15 minutes. In addition, you have the added bonuses of daily exercise and reducing your carbon footprint.
Only Use Crossings
Sometimes you will need to navigate the traffic of a large city as a pedestrian rather than a driver. For instance, you may have had a drink, or perhaps are walking a short distance, and your car isn’t necessary. In this case, you need to be just as sensible as driving by not doing the things you usually look out for. One of those things is crossing a road where you shouldn’t. There are always designated crossings, especially on busy streets, and they are there for a reason. People often cause an accident by misjudging a car, so don’t become a statistic.
Learn the Traffic System
It’s easy to think all cities use the same traffic system, but they don’t. Every city is unique in its culture, architecture, people, and traffic. For example, Manhattan operates a confusing alternating one-way grid system while London is home to many roundabouts. And of course, it can take a while to get used to driving on another side of the road. However, you will soon learn about your city’s traffic system with practice. How it flows, the best times to drive, and safe carriageway procedures become second nature after a while. Perhaps practice off-peak.
Know Your Exits
Traffic systems of a major city can be simple in one area and complex in another. Typically, complex systems are integrated into high-volume regions such as city centers and retail districts. Because of the mass traffic on these roads, exiting can be tricky as you learn to navigate roads with large vehicles. Fortunately, exits are well sign-posted, and you can usually get a sense of where to go. However, it’s a good idea to learn as a passenger with an experienced driver before navigating such roads. Alternatively, use earlier exits if available.