Your Go-To Guide for Navigating Traffic Like a Gold Medalist

  • Aug 22,2016
Man's hand on steering wheel, navigating traffic Man's hand on steering wheel, navigating traffic

With the summer games in full swing, you’re likely captivated by the abilities of the nation’s top athletes. Whether you’ve been mesmerized by the swimmers, gymnasts, or runners, you’ve observed athletes maneuver quickly and gracefully in their event. When it comes to navigating traffic, speed and poise are just as important. When you get behind the wheel, channel your inner athlete and conquer your commute with these safe-driving tips for handling heavy traffic. Don't lose your cool—go for the gold!

Tip #1: Stay focused and alert. When you’re stuck in traffic and you know you’re going to be sitting there for a while, it’s easy to let your mind wander. You don’t see three-time gold medalists daydreaming before a big event though, do you? Stay alert and in tune with your surroundings so that you can handle any fast breaks or tight turns that may come your way.

Tip #2: Use your turn signal when changing lanes. Just like soccer or basketball in the summer games, you want your “teammates” in the traffic jam to know your next move. If you need to change lanes, make sure you let everyone around you know and give them plenty of time to react. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, a whopping 48% of drivers either neglect to use their signals when changing lanes or fail to turn their signal off altogether. Shoot for gold medal performance and don't neglect your blinkers, even when traffic slows you down to a crawl. Your "teammates" will thank you!

Tip #3: Keep a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you. In bad traffic, the car in front of you may be constantly stopping and starting, and giving yourself a little bit of “buffer” space will keep you from slamming on the brakes. (Plus, it's basic driver's ed.) In areas of high congestion, the name of the game is strategy, not speed. Watch the car in front of you pass a sign or mile marker and start counting how long it takes you to reach the same point (one thousand one, one thousand two, and one thousand three). If it takes you less time, the folks at Nationwide suggest backing off until you're following about three seconds behind the driver in front of you. Think of traffic as a marathon, rather than a 100-meter sprint.

Tip #4: Remain patient and upbeat. We’ve all seen these drivers during traffic jams: they're blaring their horns, screaming at other drivers, and generally steaming from the ears. Don’t be that person! Nearly 1,500 people have been killed in crashes involving road rage and aggressive driving since 2008, reports Today and the National Highway for Traffic Safety Administration. Stay optimistic and calm by playing some great music, listening to an interesting show on the radio, or even breaking into your lunch a little early. You’re not going to take the top spot on the podium by being a bad sport, so play nice.

Tip #5: Keep your automobile in tiptop shape. Just as athletes keep their bodies in excellent condition, the key to expert traffic navigation is having quality performance gear. Not only do worn tires grip the road poorly, but they can throw your entire car out-of-whack and reduce your car's performance during inclement weather. In some states, having insufficient tread is actually considered illegal! No matter how refined your skills are at the wheel, regular tire maintenance is a must for success in stop-and-go traffic.

Traffic jams aren’t fun, but with these tips you can handle them with the poise, power, and grace of our nation's top athletes. Staying watchful and calm, practicing safe driving, and keeping your vehicle in superior condition are crucial to navigating traffic like a champion. Don’t risk missing out on a medal—gear up with best-in-class performance gear and get your completely free tire quote with Firestone Complete Auto Care today!

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