Traffic jams have become a regular, expected part of living in urban and suburban areas, and New York City is no exception. Initially it was only city denizens who had to deal with traffic jams, but the rapid increase in automobile ownership over the last few decades, followed by rapid population growth and outward expansion, has seen traffic jams become regular parts of the lives of suburbanites, as well. This is especially true during the humorously misnamed rush hour. If you ever find yourself driving a NYC rental car, you’ll want to keep in mind some of the causes of—and solutions for dealing with—traffic jams.
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What Causes Traffic Jams?
Most traffic jams of the kind you will encounter when driving a NYC rental car are caused by two poor driving habits. The first driver will tap his brakes for whatever reason, causing the driver behind him to have to hit his brakes a little harder, so as to account for the need to stop plus the amount of time it took for his brain to realize the first driver had hit his brakes, send the command to hit his brakes, and for his foot to follow the order. This effect is amplified more and more the farther back it goes, creating a ripple effect that can easily bring normally free-flowing traffic to a stand-still.
Another cause of traffic jams is rubberneckers. We’ve all seen them—the idiots who just have to slow down to 10 mph because there’s a car abandoned on the side of the road, well away from the travel lanes, or the guy who thinks that a police car sitting behind a formerly speeding motorist is reason enough to practically walk by the spot, causing you to want to get out of your NYC rental car and slash his tires. Like the driver in the first instance, this starts a ripple effect, but this time it’s extra dangerous, because now you’ve got the ripple effect combined with whatever obstruction is on the side of the road, which is a recipe for disaster.
Below are a couple of tips for dealing with the traffic jams you might encounter when driving your NYC rental car.
Leave Some Space
Make sure to leave plenty of space between your NYC rental car and the vehicle in front of you. A good way to do this is to pick a spot on the side of the road and make sure you’re passing it two to three seconds after the car in front of you. Doing this will allow you to slow more gently, without needing to use your brakes, which serves to decrease the wear and tear on your car, as well as avoiding being the cause of a ripple effect.
Keep It Moving
Never come to a total stop. If you can see that traffic ahead of you is slowing and will probably stop, just take your foot off the gas and allow yourself to coast forward. This will serve the double purpose of allowing for the previous tip to happen, as well as saving you a longer delay, as not coming to a complete stop allows you to conserve some of your forward momentum.
A Swahili phrase literally translated as “there are no worries,” hakuna matata is often translated as simply “no worries,” and is roughly equivalent to the American term no problem. This is a good mindset to adapt when dealing with traffic jams in your NYC rental car. Just relax and take a deep breath, because getting angry and freaking out isn’t going to change your situation. Take a step back and remember that this is just one small part of your life, and try to focus on the more important parts of life.