With increased car sales over the past years and the government not getting enough infrastructure projects done in Metro Manila, most of the major streets in the metropolis have ended up looking like parking lots even when the rush hour is not in full swing.
So, what ought to be a 45-minute drive from office to home (and vice versa) becomes a two-hour slog through bottlenecks. Although motorists can badger the government for solutions to improve the traffic situation, owners of vehicles can make their life behind the wheel more tolerable. Allow us to enumerate 10 tips to achieve this.
1. Release tension. Being caught in horrendous traffic can cause bodily and emotional tension that can be lessened with some simple steps. Men’s Health encourages drivers to “breathe easy” as a simple way to release tension behind the wheel. “Breathing is key when combating stress, so it’s important to first start with a relaxed rhythm to help calm you down,” the fitness publication says. “Take long, slow, deep breaths to immediately release tension. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth for at least four counts. Breathing regularly will help soothe your brain and body to cope with the stress of traffics jams.” Another tip? When your vehicle is in a complete stop, raise your hands up and inhale deeply.
2. Listen to soft music. Fast music competes for a person’s attention when driving. It has been suggested that sad songs result in calmer and safer driving, and a study conducted by the London Metropolitan University found that music with 60-80 beats per minute—which matches the human pulse—is ideal for safe driving.
3. Remove distractions. It is best not to tinker with your smart phone or any device when driving in traffic. Even if you think you’re good at multitasking, it’s not worth it risking your own safety while operating a motor vehicle. If nothing else, always bear in mind that distracted driving is now against the law. Don’t give traffic officers a chance to extort money from you (money which, by the way, you can earmark for the new iPhone 7).
4. Know your route. Not knowing what route to take during heavy traffic can be taxing. Thankfully, there’s the ever-reliable Waze. Problem is, data signal isn’t always reliable in these parts, and mobile apps aren’t error-free. So it’s best to know what route to take by studying Google Maps or even asking some friends for directions before hitting the road. More often than not, a lot of extra time is wasted on having to make detours or finding alternate routes because the damn traffic in our favorite route isn’t moving. You can avoid this by determining the best path even before leaving the garage.
5. Listen to traffic reports. Tuning in to popular AM radio stations for traffic updates can help you decide which route to take during rush hour. A mobile phone can also be used to access traffic situationers from www.interaksyon.com/tnav.
6. Make sure your vehicle has enough fuel. How many times have you found yourself sitting motionless in traffic and staring at your fuel gauge’s needle hovering just above the empty level? That doubles the stress caused by the gridlock itself. Don’t risk running on empty—refuel before you really need to.
7. Look for a “window” when traffic is not that severe. It’s sometimes a wonder why most motorists would leave their offices at exactly 5pm or 6pm when traffic is at its heaviest. Maybe it’s better to leave an hour later when traffic is no longer that bad. Experiment, observe and take down notes.
8. Don’t weave, tailgate and cut. Sure, more and more cars are being added to the road on a daily basis. And sure, our infrastructure sucks. But let’s be honest: Much of the traffic madness we experience is the result of plain bad driving. We criss-cross between lanes. We counterflow. We park by the roadside. Come on, guys. Traffic would be so much lighter if we drove more responsibly.
9. Wear comfortable clothes. Since driving in traffic can take hours, the discomfort level can be aggravated by not wearing clothes or shoes that feel pleasant to the body. Don’t believe us? Try driving wearing a tuxedo. Then again, if you’re wearing one, you probably have a chauffeur.
10. Don’t give in to road rage. This is the worst thing that can happen to a motorist who is stuck in traffic. Road rage can result in tragic consequences. Think of it this way: Because of the heavy traffic, the road becomes a huge pressure cooker. Somebody is bound to snap. That somebody will take it out on another motorist. And before you know it, curses are spewed and punches are thrown. Worse, bullets are fired. And over what? The pathetic traffic jam you’re in? Not worth it. Don’t be that somebody.
Remember: Practice polite driving habits. Slow down or let aggressive drivers pass you. And use your horn sparingly. When all else fails, call a road rage hotline (117). Adjust your driving attitude, and have reasonable expectations about your travel time.
All in all, it’s getting safely to your destination that matters. Traffic will always be a problem. Learning to cope with it is key to a stress-free urban life.