How to Survive a Traffic Jam

Authored on on 25-07-2021 by Lu Etchells

There are some things which are just synonymous with the great British Summer: BBQs, an unexpected heatwave, Wimbledon, wasps and of course, traffic jams.  When the mercury starts to rise, and everyone piles in to their cars, the roads inevitably become logged with hot-tempered drivers.

Whilst there’s nothing you can do to stop a traffic jam from occurring, there are some things you can do to either try and avoid them, prepare for them or make the most of them!  Yes, you read that right – you could turn them in to something positive.  Here are our thoughts on surviving traffic jams.

#1 Check your routes

Before you head off, check your routes and look for traffic updates.  If the most direct route, which you were planning on taking, is blocked or suffering traffic delays, now’s the time to find out.  Look at your options, and consider taking B-roads instead.  These might be quieter, or at least more free-flowing than the more popular motorways.

#2 Pack entertainment

No one wants to assume they’re going to get caught in traffic, but equally, no one wants to be stuck with nothing to do.  As the driver, your options are somewhat limited – it’s not like you can crack on with that bookshelf you’ve been meaning to make. However, you can still do something with this gifted down-time.

Why not listen to an audiobook, or crack on with your Italian practice?  These are great ways to keep your mind active, which is vital when you’re sat around doing nothing.  The last thing you want is to feel sleepy when the traffic starts flowing again.

If you have children in the car with you (good luck, my friend!) then you must pack a myriad of entertainment options for them (regardless of the traffic).  Colouring books, reading books, toys, miniature board games, cards, a dizzying array of brightly0coloured poppets … you name it, you should pack it.  Electronics are, of course, a brilliant option too.  Make sure you have charging cables, and have encouraged them to pack headphones so the back of your car doesn’t sound like a Southend arcade!

#3 Stay hydrated

Regardless of the heat outside, you’re going to want to stay hydrated if you’re stuck on the road.  However, that can seem counterintuitive if you’re not likely to be able to access a service station any time soon.

Sipping drinks little and often is the best way to reduce the need to urinate, as is avoiding coffee and caffeine as these can irritate the bladder thus speeding up the call of nature.  Alternatively, accept you’re going to have to make a dash to the bushes at some point.

#4 Take a break

Sitting in traffic is still tiring.  Whilst you might not be going anywhere, and you’re not having to concentrate on other road users, as such, it’s still not a relaxing situation to be in.  Therefore, it’s still important that you take breaks when you can.  It’s recommend that you stop for at least 20 minutes every three hours of travelling.

Of course, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam for a long period of time, it’s going to be tempting to simply push-on once the traffic is moving again. However, this can leave you feeling more fatigued.  Stopping for a freshen up and a leg-stretch will actually do you far more good than trying to recover any “lost time”.

#5 Try to smile

Traffic jams are frustrating, there’s no getting away from it. However, once you’re stuck, you’re stuck.  No amount of anger, screaming, swearing or road rage is going to change any of that. Though, it could make matters significantly worse.

So, take a deep breath and try not to focus on the minutes ticking away or the utter powerlessness you’re feeling. 

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