Teen Drivers: Traffic Jams

You've been a licensed driver for a couple of months. You've been on the major highways, the winding and hilly back roads, and even been caught in the rain a few times. But have you been stuck in the ultimate driving headache bumper-to-bumper traffic?

Congestion, nighttime, and construction zone driving are tricky driving conditions that can turn the freedom of the open road into the claustrophobia of the dotted-line asphalt jungle.

Driving 5 Miles per Hour On the Freeway!

It is widely known that traffic jams can create some of the most frustrating and annoying behind-the-wheel scenarios. As a driver, you will inevitably come face-to-face with the beast called congestion. The trick to dealing with backups is being prepared and avoiding them whenever possible.

Here are some tips for avoiding traffic jams:

         The radio has more than just music. When you hop in the car, quickly check the local news station for the latest traffic report. Some areas even have traffic-only stations. If there is a jam, you'll be prepared and can try an alternate route.

         Take the road less traveled. Although highways may be the most direct route, back roads can be scenic and much less crowded, saving you the frustration of stop-and-go traffic.

         Rush hour isn't just a cute nickname. While in reality both the morning and afternoon traffic crunches last for several hours, they're called "rush hour" for a reason everyone's on the road and in a rush to get somewhere. Treat rush hour like bad weather if you don't have to go anywhere, stay off the roads.

And here are some tips for those unavoidable traffic jams:

         Don't break the law. You've gone 30 feet in 30 minutes and all of a sudden you see people using the shoulders as lanes. But not only is this illegal, there's a good chance they'll get caught better them forking over a couple of hundred bucks for a ticket than you!

         Pay extra attention to zig-zaggers. When people have somewhere to be, but can't get there, they can get pretty desperate and start switching lanes every 5 seconds. These people may even cut you off! Keep an eye out all windows and on all mirrors for these serial lane changers. If you can identify them, you can be prepared when they get close to you.

         Look for an escape. If it is possible to exit the road safely, do it. The longer you stay in the backup, the faster you may lose your patience. Carry a map or know your route well enough to adjust mid-trip if needed.

         Be courteous. Good manners may sound old-school, but common decency is not. In fact, politeness could help you avoid a collision. Many traffic jams involve multiple lanes merging. Understand the situation, and allow people in from a lane that is ending. Don't speed up to keep them out that increases your chances of crashing. And if you are in the lane that is ending, merge when it's your turn and try to remember to give a "thank-you" wave.

Construction Craziness

Construction zones can appear overnight, turning a road you knew like the back of your hand into a completely different stretch of road. The key is to be on the lookout for clues to help you successfully navigate the work zone.

Construction Craziness

Construction zones can appear overnight, turning a road you knew like the back of your hand into a completely different stretch of road. The key is to be on the lookout for clues to help you successfully navigate the work zone.

You can do this by learning what all the different work zone signs mean. You probably know these signs are all orange, but what do they each mean? Do some research on your state's department of transportation's website so you know what to expect when you see a man with a shovel on an orange sign.

Other things to keep in mind in work zones include:

         Look out for and avoid debris. If you can do it safely, avoid running over debris in a work zone. Scrap metal or nails can cause flat tires and blowouts.

         Start slowing down as soon as you see a sign that says work zone ahead. Don't wait until you come to the zone and slam on your breaks.

         Don't forget the all-important rule of work zones FINES DOUBLE!

Remember, no matter how many times you travel a certain route, an accident or roadwork could pop up and cause unexpected delays. As a good rule of thumb always give yourself a little extra time. If you know your drive will take 15 minutes, give yourself 2530 minutes just to be safe.

Nighttime Is the Right Time to Pay Extra Attention to the Road

Nighttime driving is like the big brother to daytime driving. It's best to start driving after dark only after you have a lot of practice driving during the day and practice driving at night with an experienced driver.

Some other tips to help you adjust to the lack of light:

         Don't chase your headlights. Like a dog chasing its tail, a driver chasing his or her headlights will never work out. While driving at night, it's a good rule of thumb to travel at a speed that allows you to brake within the distance covered by your headlights. Some states even have slower speed limits for nighttime driving.

         Swarm to the light like a bug. When you begin night driving, try to stick to well-lit roads. These roads will have a higher visibility than darker back roads.

Houston, we have a bum headlight. You wouldn't go out into a rainstorm with a bad windshield wiper. So why venture into the darkness of night with a bum headlight or taillight? Before heading out at night, do a quick check to make sure all systems are go. Also check to make sure your windshield is clean inside and out. Too much grime can cause a monster glare from oncoming headlights.