10 Tips To Beat The Soul-Sucking City Traffic

When you see a typical car ad, the vehicle is always driving at high-speeds along an abandoned or secluded beach, or down a broad, empty highway. It gives us the impression that everyday driving in this car will always feel the same. The reality, as we all should know, is quite different. We spend an inordinate amount of our time in traffic, wherever we are (An average American spends 19 full work days per year stuck in traffic!).

Picture the scene, your plane has landed in UAE, you leave the airport in your rented sports car in Dubai (my favorite city BTW!), and you’re on your way into the city center. You hit a traffic jam, now what? You don’t know which lane to get into before the intersection, now what? The driver in front of you is going incredibly slow or blocking your way, now what?

Dubai Traffic

Image Credit: smartcitiesworld.net

10 Tips For a Smooth & Safe City Driving Experience

Here are a few key tips that can help you stay safe and overcome the natural stress that comes with driving in big cities anywhere in the world.

1. Improve the Ambience in Your Car

One great strategy is to pre-empt any stress by making your car as comfortable and pleasant a space as you can. This means investing in a model with supportive seats, soft-touch materials and good heating and ventilation. It also means putting in a pleasant scent like an air freshener or periodic spray release device that will keep your car smelling sweet. It’s amazing the difference it can make when you find yourself in a traffic jam or other situation. When your car is nice, you won’t want to be out of it anyway, so let the jams roll.

2. Use Your Navigation Software

No matter how well you think you know the city, it remains the best policy to use navigation software. When connected to live traffic updates, your software can take into account roadworks and other unique conditions to always provide you with the optimum route. Without it, you will just take the most familiar route, no matter whether it’s the best one or not. That can lead to jams and difficulties. You have tools, use them!

3. Drive an Automatic

There’s no question that manual cars are more fun to drive. The activity of gear changing helps keep you alert, and manual cars often have better torque and acceleration. In the city, however, needs must take precedence. An automatic makes it a lot easier and more efficient when you’re in the city, where traffic is very often following a “stop-start” rhythm. It removes any risk of getting the gears wrong and stalling your vehicle, creating additional stress for you and even attracting anger from impatient drivers behind you.

4. Download and Use Parking Assist Technology

Besides navigation, you will also hugely benefit from parking assistance. In some cities, finding a parking spot can seem nearly impossible, but new apps that you can sync with your infotainment via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto allow you to scan the surrounding area for free spaces and then guide you to them. It will save you potentially hours of wasted time and gallons of wasted fuel every month that you may have spent driving around looking in vain for a free spot.

5. Stay in Lane

Lane Driving

The opening of the movie Office Space demonstrated quite clearly the pitfalls of changing lanes when you think it’s moving faster than the one you’re in. When you’re in traffic, you see the line in the lane next to you starting to move, so you think you can jump in and enjoy the faster-moving traffic. That line suddenly stops, and the one you were in originally starts to move. It’s a classic cat-and-mouse game that you just never win. Stay in lane and you’ll be a lot less stressed overall. You also avoid the risk of needless collisions.

6. Minimize Criminal Risk

With some urban areas experiencing high crime rates, it’s important that you crime-proof your car as much as you can. One good idea is always parking in well-lit areas, especially those with security cameras. Another good tip is never leaving any visible valuables on the seats, in the door pockets or anywhere where passing hoodlums might spot them and try to steal them. Finally, ensure your car is fitted with a working alarm, as well as deadbolts if possible, and an immobilizer to stop would-be thieves from taking off with your vehicle.

7. Don’t Beep the Horn

When it’s rush hour and there is a seemingly endless line of cars in front of you, the temptation to beep at the drivers in front to hurry along is overwhelming. We advise that you always refrain from using the horn out of any frustration or impatience. Why? First, it doesn’t do anything to help. No traffic jam was ever resolved by any driver beeping their horn. Second, it risks getting others irate, and disturbs residents and nearby pedestrians and businesses. Leave the horn alone.

8. Keep Your Distance


Modern car safety systems often come with active cruise control, and Stop&Go technology that helps keep the car running efficiently when it’s barely moving forward in traffic. These systems do several things, but one is that they help you maintain a proper and safe distance from the car in front. To avoid the road-jamming fender bender and taking a big ding in your standing with the insurance company, keep a safe distance from the car in front, regardless whether you have a modern safety system to help you do it or not.

9. Show Courtesy

This one is fairly straight-forward. Show courtesy to others and you’ll find it helps you just as much in the long run. Even though you’ll unlikely meet the same drivers who will then reciprocate your kindness, it remains the best way to operate. When you see others struggling to join traffic, try to make room for them; if there’s a car holding up the left lane because the driver is trying to join the right lane but no one will let him in, then let him in. Small courtesies from more individuals makes the road a brighter place.

10. Alter Your Times or Accept the Jams

Some people allow themselves to get totally flustered by rush-hour traffic. But why? The concept of “rush hour” is a global phenomenon for any developed city. We all know about it, so why do we always act so surprised and frustrated by it? If you can’t handle rush hour, then you need to find a way to take your commute or typical drives at different times of day. If you can’t make those adjustments, then it’s beyond your control and you have to learn to accept it. Frustration, horn beeping and road rage will never solve a city’s traffic problems. Your patience, good planning and understanding will help you get through it.

The City Streets are for Driving!

It can be stressful and it can be worrying, but if you follow this advice, your urban driving experience will be greatly enhanced. Much of the stress in particular comes from within you, rather than from the outside. Just remember that you can’t control the world, but you can control your car and the atmosphere within it. Stay safe on the roads.

Author Bio

The above post is a guest contribution made by Peter Harrison, a Digital Marketing specialist and an automotive enthusiast, currently working at Renty, a leading car-rental company based in Dubai.