Local drivers may be used to it, but tourists or people who live in the suburbs may get overwhelmed the first time they hit Philadelphia traffic. It can be slow and even outside of rush hour.
For anyone who is moving to a big city for the first time or visiting, it is wise to review some best practices for driving in traffic congestion. Listed below are tips to help you stay safe during rush hour traffic.
Know Your Route
Rush hour is generally considered to be about two hours in the morning, starting around 7:00 a.m., and about two hours in the evening, starting around 4:00 p.m. However, anyone who has spent any time in Philadelphia knows that those time windows are not guaranteed and you could easily see traffic jams at nearly any time of the day. Because of this, it is vital that you know your route. Whether you make this commute daily or you are doing it for the first time, knowing where you are going can help you prepare and not miss an exit or a turn.
You should also plan for an alternate route. While rush hour can make every option slow, sometimes, your main route is blocked and you have to go another way. Instead of frantically checking your phone to find the best route, you have already planned an alternate route and can calmly begin changing course.
Leave Extra Time
Even if your route should only take you 30 minutes, you cannot plan on that time being accurate. While you are on your way, there could be a car accident or other traffic incidents that delays you.
Especially when traveling during heavy rush hour, leave yourself extra time. You will undoubtedly encounter extra traffic, more than you planned for, and possibly incidents blocking your route. When you need to be somewhere at a certain time, whether that is work, a doctor’s appointment, or taking your child to school, leave yourself a little flexibility. This will also keep you safer as you will not be as rushed.
Rush hour traffic can cause drivers to act aggressively. Do not focus on them. Stay calm when you are driving, even if you are dealing with excessive traffic.
For inexperienced drivers, city driving is vastly different from suburban and rural driving. Traffic jams happen without warning, people cut you off, drivers swerve in and out of traffic rapidly, and they shoot across multiple lanes of traffic to get to their exit. Understand that you will probably encounter aggressive drivers, and you should be prepared for unexpected slow-downs.
One of the best ways to stay calm while driving is to avoid aggressive drivers. Let these drivers pass. Do not stay in the passing lane to try and slow them down or to block them. That will only aggravate them more. Let them by so you do not inadvertently get into an accident with them.
Follow the Law
This applies any time you are driving, but make sure you follow traffic laws. During rush hour traffic, you probably will not have to worry about exceeding the speed limit. However, you should be aware of stop lights, stop signs, and rights-of-way.
Ensuring that you stay safe on the road during rush hour begins with you following the rules of the road. If you break the law, you are more likely to end up in an accident with someone else, potentially causing serious injuries.
Pay Attention to Pedestrians and Bicyclists
When you are not on one of the many expressways in and out of Philadelphia, you may be on city streets, some of which are very tight and narrow. During the warmer months, expect to see lots of bicyclists out. Make sure you are aware of these people and their ability to share the lane with you.
The same is true of pedestrians. Even during cold weather, people are walking around Philadelphia every day. When a light changes, make sure you stop and know where the pedestrians are so you can avoid an impact. Hitting someone on a bike or who is walking can be deadly.
Texting while driving is illegal. While you may need to use your phone for directions, do not stare at your phone, even when your car is stopped. Research shows that when you respond to a text at a red light, your brain continues to think about and focus on that text conversation for up to a minute, even after you put your phone down. This can distract you from safely driving.
You also need to ensure everyone else in the vehicle knows that you need to focus, especially when traffic is bad. The more stop and go traffic you are in, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident, especially a minor one. When traffic gets bad, make sure your passengers know to turn down the radio and keep their voices down if they are continuing to talk.
Consider a Carpool
The more people who ride together, especially to and from work, the fewer cars there are on the road, making everyone’s rush hour slightly more pleasant. When you carpool, you can save money on gas and you can enjoy conversation with others.
It is important that you rotate driving responsibilities. Whether you change daily or weekly, changing the driver can keep everyone more relaxed. If you only have to deal with Philadelphia rush hour traffic one week per month, you might be safer.
Rush hour traffic is stressful. When so many cars are jammed into a small area, it is easy to lose focus for just a second. However, when you have no room to spare, hitting your brake pedal even a fraction of a second too late could cause an accident.
Make sure you leave enough space between you and the car in front of you. Keeping your distance will help you get to your destination safely.
Stay in Your Lane
Everyone wants to get where they are going quickly. On roads and expressways with multiple lanes, that means some drivers may switch back and forth trying to find the fastest lane. Not only is this practice dangerous with so many cars around, it probably will not save you any time.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Can Help You if You Have Been Injured in Rush Hour Traffic
Navigating through heavy traffic in the morning or evening can be overwhelming and even frustrating. Traffic jams can lead to heightened levels of stress, which could result in an accident. If you have been hit by another driver during rush hour traffic, speak with one of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, Media, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.