While everyone hates traffic jams, they are one of the most common occurrences in Canada.
You can’t understand it – how can a five-lane highway become so packed? It feels as if every car in the city has joined you on the highway at the same time. Traffic creeps forward at a snail’s pace, when it moves at all. You’re forced to waste time, gas and money. What causes this? Or more importantly – how do you avoid this? Don’t fret, we’ll tell you!
Five Most Common Reasons
1. Road repair
One of the most common reasons for traffic jams, especially during the summer, is road repair and ongoing construction work. This directly reduces the amount of available road space, impacting traffic negatively.
2. Obstructions on the road
Another common reason that causes traffic jams is an obstruction on the road that results in drivers trying to move around it. Obstructions can come in many forms, such as a number of large potholes or some roadkill blocking the lane.
3. Accidents up ahead
When there is a car accident, you can almost always expect a traffic jam to occur. As emergency response vehicles arrive and block off the area, drivers are given less space to move forward or in many cases even completely diverted to another route.
4. Network overload
An inevitable cause of traffic jams is simply when the road network is overloaded and there is just no space for more cars, causing vehicles to move at a snail’s pace. For instance, if a two-lane road suddenly turns into a one-lane road, the road space is essentially halved for the same amount of traffic.
5. Harsh weather conditions
An understandable reason for traffic jams is inclement weather conditions, requiring slow speeds and caution while driving. Chances of accidents occurring in such weather are higher as well, further raising the probability of a traffic jam.
The Strangest Reason of Them All
A strange but true reason for traffic slowdowns is a single person at the front getting distracted and moving slowly as a result. Consider the following scenario that I personally witnessed: at the front of a seven-car “pack” was a driver in his Subaru Impreza speaking furiously on his cellphone. As result, he was moving noticeably slower than the norm, causing all the cars behind him to slow down as well. In some cases, the drivers following the distracted person try to change their lane to pass them, but that usually makes traffic even worse. Sometimes you just can’t win!
How to Beat Traffic Jams
1. Leave early for your commute
A sure-fire way of beating the traffic is leaving early when on a regular commute, especially to work. This will help you avoid rush-hour traffic, which is when a large portion of traffic jams occurs.
2. Use a GPS system with live traffic updates
Utilize navigation software options that provide live traffic updates and automatically adjust your route based on the least traffic, doing all the work for you.
3. Map out and test alternative routes
Look into less frequented roads and back routes to get to your destination. They might be a longer distance on paper, but with less traffic on the road you may still get there quicker anyway.
4. Ditch the car altogether
While this is not an ideal solution, but if you are going to a destination close by and there is a lot of traffic on the road, you are better off simply walking or biking over there to avoid traffic jams in the first place.
Traffic jams can be a frustrating experience, but with these tips and some luck, you can avoid the bulk of them and coast through the city freely in your new Toyota Sienna or any other car you may be driving.