California takes first place in some interesting categories. In 2019, it ranked as the most populous state according to the Census, with 39 million residents. It also ranked as the state with the most vehicle registrations.
The Golden State recorded 14.2 million vehicle registrations in 2019. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the state experiences heavy traffic on the highways and roads.
Most native Californians have accepted the congestion as part and parcel of living in the expansive state that offers scenic views and access to diverse ecosystems.
Thus, residents have learned to live with it and figured out ways to overcome it. The local news still reports on traffic patterns during the morning and early evening, and drivers watch to find out the current road conditions.
Let’s look at seven ways to handle California traffic better.
1. Accept It
Traffic in California is a reality that won’t see a change anytime soon. Although the state has experienced an exodus to the others, it still has a high population and several cars on the road day and night.
Therefore, the first step to handling California highway and road congestion better is to accept it.
In 2019, the Golden State saw 3,606 fatal traffic accidents. Plus, it sees several fender benders daily. If you become involved in a collision, contact a car accident attorney in California.
2. Plan Ahead
Traffic in the Golden State does follow patterns. It remains heavy during commuting hours and slightly levels off between those time blocks.
Sometimes it’s not possible to avoid driving in the congestion. However, you can take less congested routes.
In 2023, map apps such as Google Maps can detect the heaviest traffic and its causes. For example, if the app detects road construction, a fire, or accidents, it places them on the map view.
Therefore, users can input their starting point, destination, and route preferences. Then, the app returns an optimized route.
3. Listen to Music
Uber and Lyft drivers use a trick to pass the time and stay alert: listening to music with constant and repetitive beats. The music helps some drive at consistent paces despite heavy vehicle flow.
The trick is also helpful for drivers trying to remain calm on congested highways and roads.
4. Enjoy the Scenery
Unlike other states in the Union, California sits among mountains, the coast, and other bodies of water. The state doesn’t sit on flat land. Therefore, drivers can enjoy the scenery on the 5, 10, and 60, even during rush hour.
Drivers must focus on the road, but they can also gaze at the far-off mountains, palm trees lining the path, and the less polluted horizon that could inspire hopes, dreams, and serenity.
5. Skip Aggressive Driving
Some drivers have low tolerances for California congestion and start aggressively driving.
On 2-lane highways, one vehicle and one big rig can cause a backup for miles. Slower drivers don’t always stay in the right lane, blocking traffic on the left.
Thus, drivers will pass the vehicles as soon as possible.
However, exercising aggressive driving in street traffic or on major highways is not a good idea.
First, the behavior puts everyone in danger.
6. Remain Focused on the Destination
Another strategy to employ during bumper-to-bumper conditions is focusing on the destination. Hopefully, you want to arrive at it, so it will inspire you to remain calm.
Maybe you’re on your way home from work, or you’re heading to grab coffee with your friends.
7. Take a Break
On days that California traffic catches up to you, take a break. Entering 2023, companies want employees to return to the office instead of continuing to work remotely.
Therefore, traffic will peak again.
Take a break if the congestion becomes overwhelming by driving outside commuting hours. Pull off the highway or road and head toward a place to grab a snack and hydration.
Ideally, the traffic will dissipate while you recharge your mind.
If California traffic has started to stress you out, another option is to take a break from driving and let someone else do it for you. Consider taking Uber and Lyft. You might also consider taking public transportation.
Native Californians have figured out how to drive in traffic congestions. Most have devised plans to avoid it or overcome it. If it catches up to you or you are a novice trying to live among it, start by planning your routes before hitting the road. You can also listen to music, enjoy the scenery, and focus on the destination.