I am stuck in traffic’ is probably one of the most annoying and disappointing phrases you can ever hear, whether used in its proverbial cliché of an excuse, or really genuinely stated. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have missed out on important meetings and opportunities simply because I was stuck in a snarl-up somewhere. I have also lost count of the number of times I had to order another glass of juice at a restaurant or if the month was around that stiff bend, just sat there sipping on that one glass, nibbling impatiently on the straw as I waited for someone who was stuck in traffic to make their way to our meet-up. And the waiters and waitresses start to throw that ‘buy something else or leave’ glance at you. I digress.
No good comes out of traffic jams. And I will tell you why.
Getting stuck in traffic because vehicles are moving at a snail’s pace, or just not moving at all, is very disappointing. Ask those that spent almost an entire night stuck on Mombasa Road some time back. Traffic jams cause unnecessary delays where you end up spending more time on the road than at the office, home or any other place you would rather be at doing something more meaningful. Delays mean that you will get to work late, miss an important meeting or fail to hit the target for that particular day.
Did you know that every time a vehicle stops and starts in traffic congestion, it uses more fuel than it would if there was no congestion? This means that drivers have to dig deeper into their pockets to cater for more fuel yet the current fuel prices have sky-rocketed making it even harder for them. Consequently, vehicles used for commercial purposes do not realize optimum profits while vehicles for personal use are ditched for cheaper means of transport considering it’s hard to fuel these types of vehicles.
Low productivity at the workplace
Once you are caught up in traffic in the morning, it becomes hard for you to get to work in good time. It is at this point that you come up with lies to use on your employer seeing as you will be late. You become distracted throughout the day as evening approaches as you begin to think of how you will (try to) evade sitting in traffic. Eventually you get home late, sleep late and still have to get up early to try and beat the morning traffic. Once you are deprived of sleep and peace, productivity dwindles.
Besides consuming litres of fuel, vehicles in traffic congestion emit harmful gases that could cause major health complications to people that inhale them. Studies have also shown that these harmful emissions can lead to brain damage, lung diseases and high blood pressure among others. Major cities in the world faced by the problem of traffic jams have contributed to global warming due to the air pollution. On the other hand, sitting in traffic deprives you the chance to exercise and release the pent-up stress in you. This makes you easily irritable and impatient. Signs of a stressful life.
Despite the efforts by the government to construct more roads to curb this traffic issue, the reality is more people are getting vehicles and the population continues to grow. This means that this problem is not going away any time soon so the best thing is to find ways of making the best out of it. But how do you do this? Find out below.
Traffic jams are inevitable but they do not always have to bug you. There are many things you can do as you wait for the roads to be clear; more like that making-lemonade-out-of-lemons-thrown-at-you kind of thing. And while there are many ways to avoid getting stuck in traffic, here are a few of them.
Avoid rush hours
Majority of people leave their homes for work at six o’clock in the morning and close businesses eleven or twelve hours later. At five or six o’clock in the evening, these people will be heading back home. It’s obvious that the mass movement will lead to traffic jams at these peak hours. Logic dictates that you either leave early in the morning or later in the evening lest you will end up spending time in traffic.
Hit the gym
While the rest of the city folk are stuck in traffic, get those abs you have always wanted to. Flex those muscles. Cut that weight. Sweat out the day’s stresses. Tone that body. Take time to look good by hitting the gym and you will have yourself to thank later. You accomplish very little by idling in a vehicle that can barely move only to get home and feel exhausted. Work schedules take up large chunks of the day and it’s easy to get caught up in them and forget the importance of keeping fit.
Enrol for evening classes/clubs
There usually isn’t much time left for leisure after a day’s work, what with jobs, school, family and other commitments. So instead of whiling away time doing nothing, use this time to learn something new. It could be anything really-take a cooking class, learn how to draw, how to play a musical instrument, join a Rotary club, advance your level of education, complement your studies with other professional courses like CPA, ACCA, CICT etc.
Schedule meetings/dates at this time
Once you get engrossed in your work, you will find that you barely have time to spare. Friends and relatives will want to catch up with you. Evenings after work form that perfect time for this. This is also the time that many food joints and bars have incentives to lure customers. Go grab that pizza as you have a date with your significant other. Enjoy happy hour over a cold drink with friends and colleagues as you wait for traffic to ease up.
Use alternative routes
It is possible to end up spending hours on the road stuck in traffic just because you followed routes preferred by many, when in essence there could be other routes that have less traffic or none at all. It is important to listen to different radio stations to be updated on the situation on the roads-any happenings like accidents, closure of roads to pave way for presidential motorcades or other prominent people etc.
Use alternative means to get home
It is understandable to get attached to your own car, or to get comfortable in matatus and buses such that it becomes difficult to consider other means of transport, but if you spend more time stuck in traffic than your lunch break then you might want to consider other means. Take the train, for instance. It is actually cheaper than fuelling your car or taking a bus. If you can walk to your destination, do, rather than wasting time seated in that bus. If you know your route is going to be affected, take a motorbike. It is prudent to pay more for this service than waste time. Buy a bicycle, if you are adventurous enough.
Read a book while in traffic
Finally, if there is really no way of evading the snarl-up, rather than sitting idle and twiddling your thumbs, or looking through the window to see what the person in the next car is doing, read a chapter or two of a good book. You will keep your mind occupied and not get stressed looking at your watch every few minutes and you are not moving.