Most people in the United States spend approximately four hours each week stuck commuting to and from work, and most of that time is spent in traffic. On your commute to work, traffic can make you worried, and on your way home, it can make you angry. However, daily commutes for many people are an unavoidable part of life.
Every day, millions of people who have to do long commutes feel stressed before they even get to work, and they might pay a high price for a stressful drive or ride. It can be pretty dangerous for you if you spend four hours or more on the road every week as rush hour traffic regularly causes accidents, some of which are fatal. It means that practically driving every day to work can be dangerous.
Even though the commute might seem long, dull, and dangerous, there are several ways to make your daily commute more accessible and safer, like vehicle maintenance, changing your routes, and requesting your company for more flexible hours.
Best Tips for Driving on Long Commutes
1. Leaving as Early as Possible
It is hard to master the habit of leaving 15 minutes early rather than the last possible second if you are like most people who always get to the office late. If that is the case, consider working sooner as a trial for a week.
And when you arrive at work, take a moment to notice how your mind and body feel compared to the days when you race the entire way. It could be the driving force you need to break old habits.
2. Avoiding Accelerating Too Much
You might think that you can get to your work faster if you constantly change your lanes and leave your other fellow drivers behind by speeding up and might even end up breaking some traffic rules. But you need to ask yourself: how much time am I saving? And at what cost?
You might be surprised when you do the math. You will most likely discover that you’ve significantly increased the wear and tear of your car just to get to work a few minutes earlier.
3. Being Careful of the Sun
You should always be prepared for the sun when driving to or from work while the sun is rising or setting. This is because it can cause severe sun glare that messes with your visibility during your commute. Therefore, you should keep a pair of sunglasses in your car, a working car visor, and a clean windshield with operating wiper blades.
4. Listening to Something Relaxing
Even though you cannot control what other drivers do, you can control what happens inside your car. Some people find that blasting rap or rock music makes traffic more tolerable. It can be Mozart, waves crashing on a beach, or silence distracting you from your thoughts. You can also listen to the podcast you like or call your family members and friends to catch up with them but make sure to use earphones to call them.
5. Packing on the Go Snacks
A traffic jam or rush in the afternoon is much more irritating if you are hungry or thirsty. That is why some people keep protein bars or bottles of water in their trunk or desk drawer if they need a quick pick-me-up before getting behind the wheel. Some people also have a habit of stopping by for a latte and a snack. In short, you should not drive when you are hungry.
To know more about what you should have on the go, check out our article on Must-haves for Long Commutes.
6. Leaving Your Car at Home
If you think public transport is an excellent option for you, you should definitely give it a go even if the advantages it gives can be quite substantial. It is far easier to travel by any public transport than in your car as you don’t have to deal with the stress of the traffic even if you are getting late.
It not only reduces your anxiety levels but also frees up your hands and minds for productive activities. You can easily plan your day, read over that report or get ahead on work emails. You can also sit back and take some deep breaths.
7. Taking the Best Route
You might be aware that the roads most likely will be blocked during rush hour. So, consider using back roads or different routes as they are faster and less congested or simply more pleasurable.
You can also use different apps for your commute to work to take you to the least crowded route automatically. It would be best to remember that traffic conditions can change daily due to accidents, constructions, and events.
8. Changing Your Working Hours
The best thing you can do to deal with the rush hour is to avoid it altogether. Many companies might provide flexible work hours that allow you to come and leave work during off-peak hours for driving. Depending on the traffic and your work needs, this could mean working from 7 am to 4 pm, or 10 am to 6 pm.
9. Always Give Other Drivers Space
When you are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, it is sometimes easier said than done to give other vehicles space. However, if you leave enough space between yourself and the driver, you will be safer and have fewer chances of involving in an accident.
You will have more time to respond to anything happening in front of you if you leave extra space.
10. Avoid Using Your Phone
Most of us like to spend the majority of our time staring at our phones. That is why if you take public transport, you may be tempted to use that time to text your friends, check social, read the news online, watch cat videos, etc.
But if you’re driving, this is very dangerous and is the common cause of road accidents and should be avoided at all costs. Not only that, but it also can lead to severe mental fatigue and loss of focus. Instead of reaching for your phone every time, have some good audiobooks and podcasts with you since they are productive and don’t require you to stare at your phone’s screen.
11. Always Staying Focused
When you are on the way home from your work, it is easy to get caught up in all daily work frustrations. Therefore, it is essential to stay present and think about the good things that happened during the day. Maybe you had a significant interaction with the new co-worker, learned a new tip or trick, or performed a task that you are proud of.
You should stay present during the trip by recalling the highlights of the day, and you will be more likely to walk through your front door thinking that you have a good day.
12. Choosing the Middle Lane
On a three-lane highway, the middle lane is usually the safest and the most efficient option. The left road is often blocked by drivers trying to get into the fast lane. On the other hand, the right lane is often congested with drivers entering and exiting the freeway as no one gets off and on in your middle lane. It is safer, and it will connect you to your destination faster.
Driving On Long Commutes – The Key is to Stay Relaxed and Focused
Long commuting might sound like a tedious and dangerous task, but it is an excellent opportunity to reflect on yourself and do the things that you enjoy while being stuck in traffic, while being mindful of the road. You might get angry, and all the negative thoughts can start popping up in your head, but you should stay calm, positive, and focused on the road.