Susan was offered a higher paying position at her company’s headquarters. The only catch was that she would need to move to Los Angeles. Susan, not wanting to pass up the lucrative job promotion, accepted the position and made arrangements for her big move from the Midwest to L.A., a city of over 3 million people. Previously, Susan had only been to L.A. a couple of times and had taken a taxi from the airport to her destinations. She witnessed the traffic congestion and chaos, but did not have to figure out how to navigate L.A.’s complex highway systems on her own, as a driver. Upon moving day, Susan hit the road and drove all the way to L.A., making good time and feeling g good about her decision. The closer she got to L.A., Susan became more nervous. She tried to prepare herself by printing off specific navigation directions, purchased a GPS system, and talked to friends who were familiar with the L.A.’s miles of freeway. When Susan approached I-405, she became extremely anxious and felt like pulling over. Knowing that pulling over would be more dangerous than keeping up with the flow of traffic, Susan continued down the congested freeway. Knowing that a GPS system can interfere with concentration and overall road safety, Susan turned the system off and followed her alternative map directions. She missed her first exit and barely avoided a fender bender when looking for her second exit. She arrived at her destination; feeling exhausted, but realized she would need to get familiar with L.A.’s complex roads.
Navigating the Chaos of Los Angeles
According to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, there are approximately 527 miles of freeway, which equals more than one-fourth of Susan’s trip from the Midwest. In a city of over 2 million drivers, commuters spend at least 30 minutes heading to work some mornings, while a majority of drivers spend over an hour of total drive time. In any given day, there are over 40 reported traffic incidents in Los Angeles, including traffic hazards, car accidents, and accidents due to weather and/or road conditions. As a driver in the “City of Angels”, how does one keep safe and calm under the infamous of chaos and congestion?
Any driver, who has ever driven in rush hour in any big city, has witnessed irresponsible, impatient, and downright scary drivers. Whether another driver is eating breakfast, talking on a cell phone, texting, answering e-mails or singing along to blaring tunes on the radio, the driver is posing a potential threat to other drivers on the road. It’s natural, when stuck in gridlock, to want to pass the time with “multi-tasking” activities. Why not make dinner plans? Why not get some early office work done? Why not apply those finishing touches of makeup? Even if you have idle time on the road, as a driver, your eyes and mind should be focused on the road and the other drivers around you.
Stuck in Rush Hour? Don’t get Distracted
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 9 people, each day, are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes related to a distracted driver. Distracted driving is any activity that takes your mind, hands, and eyes off of the road. Even helpful tools, such as GPS systems can be distracting for many drivers. On busy freeways, in Los Angeles, a lost driver and a GPS system can become a recipe for disaster. In a city like Los Angeles, where freeways may seem like a labyrinth, drivers must be prepared before hitting the road. Instead of relying on a GPS system that requires a driver to take his/her eyes off of the fast moving traffic, a voice command GPS system may be more helpful. If the verbal commands become too distracting, a driver should have a general idea of how to reach a destination without the “nagging/pressuring” commands.
Do High Traffic Areas Make You Anxious?
Driving in unknown areas can be maddening and downright terrifying. If you are the type of driver who is easily freaked out by driving in high traffic areas, it’s important to figure out your route before you get behind the wheel. Some drivers have a legitimate fear of driving in traffic, often times, these drivers are dangerous on the road. A nervous driver may be unable to keep up with the flow of traffic and are too hesitant to merge safely, becoming the cause of a serious accident. If you are a nervous driver, try not to psych yourself out. While the fear of traffic can be debilitating, there are many everyday occurrences that cannot be avoided. According to Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD, clinic director of the Center for Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, anxiety behind the wheel is all too real. Abramowitz suggests that any driver who has a legitimate fear of driving in traffic should invest in defensive driving classes. The driver will learn to have a better grasp on potentially dangerous driving situations. Additionally, fearful drivers should look into calming, meditative breathing routines to prevent a panic attack.
Many drivers assume that distractions will take their mind off of the chaotic traffic, such as food, drink, music or even a passenger. In reality, anyone or anything will distract you from your attention on the road, which can cause an otherwise preventable accident.
Freeways Do Not Need To Be Your Enemy
When looking at a traffic report or a city map, the highway system of a big city may look like a nightmare. Whether you are traveling through or living in a metropolis, it’s important that you feel comfortable behind the wheel. Traffic can be scary, dangerous and annoying, but it’s up to you, as the driver, to make it through safely and confidently. While you may witness reckless drivers all around you, choose a pace that makes you comfortable, but will not put you in danger. Avoid all distractions and stick to what you know. Would you rather put your life at risk by acting like every other driver or following your own game plan and get through the hour of gridlock safely?
About the Author:
Lili Miller is a PhD student in Social Psychology, and the eccentric author of Simply Lili Blog; created to disperse knowledge on a plethora of topics in a minimalist and humorous way. She is a self-proclaimed nerd and her 3 fave things are blogging, copywriting, and pugs.
April 4, 2014
January 20, 2014
July 16, 2013
May 30, 2013
May 30, 2013
May 19, 2013
April 2, 2013
March 24, 2013