Most people know that driving during rush hour, whether in the morning or evening, is a recipe for frustration. You'll likely have to deal with slow-moving traffic, heavy congestion and a time-consuming trip thanks to all of the people on the roads - and the occasional accidents they may cause along the way.
Congested commutes take your time
TomTom recently released its fifth annual Traffic Index. This report analyzes traffic conditions across the world, providing some insights that may help drivers plan their routes. According to its latest data, people who commute home during evening rush hour add approximately 46 percent more time to their trip compared to what the ride would be in free-flowing traffic.
While that was the average for all cities, there were some regions that stood out - and not for good reasons. For instance, the study found that the top five most congested cities in the U.S. were Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, New York and Seattle. Los Angeles was the worst, with a typical 30-minute commute taking as long as 54 minutes during rush hour, according to the study.
The day of travel may also play a role in how congested the commute is. TomTom's data noted that Thursday was generally the worst day for evening travel. However, Friday was the most congested day in Honolulu and New York - perhaps a reflection of a heavy tourist population in these cities.
How you can cope
Even if you're regularly stuck in rush hour traffic, you can take steps to ensure your car and your wallet aren't suffering because of it. The study recommended taking advantage of flexible work hours whenever possible. Simply leaving a half hour earlier or later could save you a lot of time on the road, but that's not always feasible. Drivers who are stuck in a specific schedule should consider alternative routes that may bypass a lot of the congestion.
Heavy traffic isn't just a pain for you - it hurts your car as well. You'll often end up wasting gas, so it's essential to maintain optimum fuel efficiency. That means investing in fuel injection cleaning as recommended, in addition to following plans for scheduled maintenance.
It may also benefit motorists to double-check their brakes and tires. These parts will take the brunt of the damage during a commute, particularly one filled with stop-and-go traffic, and making sure they're operating at a high level could save money in the long run.