The California Highway Survival Guide
If you find yourself stranded in California’s notorious highway traffic, you are not alone; tens of thousands of other drivers are experiencing the same thing. While we cannot always prevent traffic congestion from happening, there are a few things every driver can do to prevent it from getting worse.
Stay in Your Lane
There are two main causes of highway congestion: Lane changing and braking technique. When drivers come upon a traffic jam, it is tempting to switch to the faster lane. However, the act of switching lanes causes traffic in both lanes to slow down. When this effect is multiplied by a few dozen drivers, traffic is much slower than if everyone simply stayed in their lane.
The other main contributing factor is acceleration. Traffic is mostly an acceleration problem. Once a driver slows down, every driver behind them also slows down. This creates a ripple effect going back to the very last car in the line, like a wave.
Every time you accelerate too quickly or slow down, you contribute to that ripple effect. This is what causes the jolting pace of California traffic jams. If you are patient and allow yourself to roll forward rather than hit the accelerator every time there’s an opening, you’ll make traffic much smoother for yourself and everyone behind you.
Aim to leave at least two car lengths of space between yourself and the car ahead of you. While changing lanes slows traffic, it is sometimes necessary for drivers who need to reach their exit. If you attempt to block these drivers and prevent them from changing lanes, you contribute to increased congestion while simultaneously increasing the risk of a crash or driver road rage.
Driving is a stressful activity, especially on California’s highways. However, if you stay the course and exercise defensive driving habits, you can prevent traffic jams and reduce the likelihood of an accident at the same time.
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