The Impact Of Traffic

Traffic was down for months because of COVID-19, but it's slowly coming back. Driving our vehicles means we have more control over where we go and how many people we contact and encounter. We can drive and see family who we have not seen in months. We also can find that only going for a drive is a form of self-care. We can put on our favorite music and sing along while feeling free as we continue down the road.

But as we begin to drive more, we need to remember the unexpected costs that many of us face in the form of tickets. In a time where many of us are struggling financially, these fees and fines can hurt our bottom line. So what can you do if you get a fine and don't have the cash to pay it off? There is a wide range of options, such as using savings, online installment loans, or seeing what your city or town offers as financial alternatives. Some cities, such as Chicago, are removing many of these tickets. Other cities are developing systems so that, even if you have unpaid tickets, you are less likely to lose your vehicle. Lastly, smaller towns periodically allow you to "pay" tickets with other items such as pet or school supplies.

One way to decrease your chance of getting a ticket is to understand your local traffic environment. What are the most common types of tickets given? Who is more likely to get tickets and when? What monitoring devices, such as traffic cameras, red-light cameras, or speed checks, are in use in your neighborhood? What is the news on the streets about traffic? Your neighbors may know where the local speed traps are or which roads are more heavily patrolled. It's crucial to have a clear understanding of your local traffic patterns and how to minimize your chances of getting a ticket you have to pay off in the first place.

There is a wide variety of traffic patterns. One which is common in cities and small towns alike is traffic jams. These might look different depending on where you drive; some stop and go because of cars, and others are caused by stopped traffic because of raising bridges, wildlife, farm equipment, or train crossings. How long we sit in traffic can be hard to comprehend. For example, in 2019, it was reported that the worst highway congestion was found in places such as Boston, where commuters suffer the worst highway congestion in the nation. Residents of Boston spent an average of 164 hours in traffic, losing as much as $2,291 in personal value. In Moscow, that average is 210 hours.

Nationally it has been suggested that the United States lose billions a year to traffic jams. So what can you do about it? You might try going in to work at alternative times. You might consider carpooling or using mass transit. You might find riding a bike to work if that is an option for you. Or at this current moment, you might continue to work from home, so you do not have to deal with traffic jams at all.

Driving both can be a source of self-care and a source of a headache. Feeling the wind in your hair or seeing family or friends can make you feel better, but tickets and traffic jams are never fun. While we might want to take our diving as a given if we put in the time to do a little research, we can increase our joy while decreasing our stress. So go out for a drive, but drive wisely, and you can have the best of both worlds.