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Top tips for staying safe (and sane!) in busy traffic

Survive the many strains of UK road congestion with these top tips.

Traffic... it can be a headache.

Traffic... it can be a headache.

Whether you’re heading off on an epic road odyssey with the family for the holidays or just attempting a busier-than-usual commute, sitting stationary in a vehicle can be an abject state of affairs. While you have no control over the rate at which traffic proceeds, you can preserve the safety, and sanity, of yourself and your fellow passengers with these hacks for keeping it together in a jam.

Don’t lose your cool

If you’ve been queuing for what seems like several eternities, you might be more prone to letting your temper get the better of you. It can be tempting to throw your hands up in despair at a slow mover or beep at silly mistakes, but don’t do it. You’ll only ratchet up the tension of such situations, and your actions can incite a road rage incident. Instead, be the bigger person, and let it go. You’ll feel better in a few minutes. Honest.

Create a bit of courtesy karma

Perhaps some poor, newly passed driver is trying to join the traffic from a slip road and no-one’s letting them through. Maybe there’s a signalling truck desperately attempting to get into their lane before they miss their exit. Remember: it’s even more difficult to get to where you’re going safely in chock-a-block traffic. Have a heart and let some people through. If it’s gridlocked, you’re probably all late, anyway.

Make sure the kids are all right

If you’ve braved bringing the children along, they may not be best pleased at being stuck in the back seat of a motionless car, especially if they’re giddy with excitement about a weekend away. Stop for toilet breaks at every available resting place, and don’t be too generous with the fruit juice. If you can, put on a favourite film on a tablet or your seat-mounted monitors, before setting off. Bring blankets, baby wipes, and some healthy snacks. Hopefully, they’ll soon forget all about the chaos outside.

Stay tuned

Turn on your car radio’s traffic alerts before you set off for clues as to what is happening on the road ahead. While it won’t make it any easier to sit for half an hour in one spot, it will give you some clues as to why you’re doing it, and when delays might ease. If it’s a day of the year or a route that you know will likely be busy, check the bank holiday weekend travel forecast or morning news before setting off.

Be super-vigilant

Even if traffic is moving extremely slowly in a queue, you can still run into the back of the vehicle in front if you don’t give it your undivided attention. While it can be tempting to fiddle with your phone, sat nav or radio when traffic grinds to a frustrating standstill, at best, vehicles behind you will become frustrated if you fail to keep up, and at worst, you could cause a serious accident by not paying attention. It’s not worth it.

Accept your lateness

Sometimes, you have to admit defeat. Nothing is worth having an accident, not even being late, and the longer you drive in a stressful environment, the more likely you are to do so. Pull over at the nearest service station for a cup of coffee, call your boss and tell them you’ve been unavoidably delayed, or find a safe stopping place and stretch your legs. Make sure for every two hours you drive, you take a short break. Your safety, and that of those other passengers and drivers around you, is more important than your tardiness.

Need some more pointers for how to drive on the motorway? Check out these handy tips.

About the Author

Kirsty Leckie-Palmer

Staff writer at Arnold Clark.