Nothing ruins an otherwise perfect day like getting stuck in Lagos traffic and running late for daily appointments. With the rainy season upon us, which is usually between April and September, traffic is expected to get worse as flooding and poor drainage might worsen the already bad situation.
Road constructions and repairs in traffic-prone areas around the state have also contributed to bottlenecks commuters have to manoeuvre, extending hours spent on the road.
But an auto expert and Chief Executive Officer of Autocentric Garage, Yomi Bosude, says planning your journey ahead can help avoid or ease most congestion.
Also, the owner of CommandPR Autos, Osaz Ogholoh, says knowing the tricks and tips of manoeuvring Lagos traffic can help commuters reach their destinations without raising their blood pressure.
Here are eight tips to cope with traffic jams:
Make sure your car is road ready
According to Ogholoh, it is important for commuters to ensure their cars are in good working condition before they embark on any journey.
He notes that making sure that there is always sufficient fuel in the tank for the journey is paramount, as well as ensuring that all the different liquid fluids are up to their necessary levels.
“Make sure your car air conditioner is working perfectly, as this will provide comfort, and always check the temperature of your car to ensure it doesn’t overheat in traffic,” he added.
On the part of the driver, Bosude said, “Always wear your seat belt; set rear view and side mirrors appropriately to eliminate blind spots around your vehicle; raise your seat high enough so you have a clear view of the road, sit on a small pillow if necessary; keep valuable items in the boot.”
Avoid rush hours
Rush hours are the worst times in traffic because they are when most people (workers, students, business owners or worshippers) are on the road commuting to and from work/school after the day’s job.
Rush hours in Lagos are usually from 6am to 10am and 4pm to 8pm.
Bosude noted that if you had to be on the road during rush hours, leaving earlier or after peak hours could do the trick.
“Simply planning around rush hour times will lead to a much more enjoyable commuting,” he added.
Use traffic apps
Traffic apps such as Google Maps and navigation tools built into most smartphones have the ability to detect traffic congestion and redirect road users to less congested routes.
Some cars also have GPS systems that help carry out the same function.
These apps also give an estimated time to commuters’ destinations in real-time.
Experts believe it is important to always check maps before leaving home to know the best alternative routes to take in case the regular routes are congested and to avoid using phones while driving.
“If you miss your turn, don’t try to reverse but use your Google Map to give you a new route,” Ogholoh added.
Bosude said speeding in traffic could lead to crashes, as he explained that sudden obstacles, potholes or broken-down vehicles could lead to unexpected swerving and sometimes accidents.
“When there are more cars than usual on the road, it will naturally slow you down. While you might be tempted to try to drive faster to avoid delays, that can cause a crash. Always remember to proceed with caution – obstacles can come out of nowhere. Keeping your eyes peeled and maintaining your focus at all times will keep you safe,” he said.
According to Ogholoh, patience is key especially when driving close to commercial bus drivers and trailers
In addition to reducing driving speed, it is important to drive proactively in heavy traffic to respond to emergency situations promptly.
Bosude said commuters must always expect the unexpected and be mentally prepared for it.
“Sometimes, it may be malicious, other times it may just be a mistake. But either way, being ready to avoid others is crucial in heavy traffic situations.
“In addition to monitoring the road conditions and traffic flow, you must look for unsafe vehicles, check signals before making a turn, and maintain adequate distance between your car and other vehicles,” he explained.
Avoiding distractions while driving is non-negotiable.
Bosude said changing radio stations and conversations with other passengers, and using cell phones, all constituted distractions.
He said, “It seems obvious, but it still needs to be stated – no one should ever text and drive. Stay focused on the road at all times. This is even more important when driving in heavy traffic. Just because you’re moving slower doesn’t make driving less dangerous.
“The average text message takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. With a lot of other cars on the road, this small amount of time is enough to cause a major crash. Avoid sending texts, checking emails and even changing radio stations when in traffic. If you do have to send a text or make a call, get off the road first.”
Maintain safe distance
Ogohloh stated that to eliminate the chances of rear-end collisions, commuters should maintain a safe distance between their cars and other vehicles ahead.
“It is a good idea to maintain a distance of at least three seconds between your car and other vehicles to avoid frequent braking and to keep your vehicle safe,” he added.
Avoid changing lanes
Ogholoh noted that switching lanes in heavy traffic was unnecessary as most lanes move at the same pace.
Bosude explained, “Rapidly switching lanes to try to get ahead of the traffic is very dangerous. Other drivers can’t predict what you’re going to do, so they may change lanes as you’re approaching. Likewise, you don’t know what other drivers are doing, so the safest move is to stay in one lane unless it’s necessary to move.”