There are a few things that are guaranteed to tick off even the most steadfast driver. Jerks who cut you off without signaling. People who drive slow in the fast lane. Tailgaters. Ugh. They’re the worst. But you know what really toots a South Florida driver’s horn? Excruciatingly slow traffic. Especially when you’ve got somewhere to be, and the traffic jam seems to stretch on for miles. Don’t other drivers realize that you have a life outside of your vehicle and you’ve got places to be? Most of us weren't born and raised in-state, but even out of state drivers with cars registered in Florida know that SPEED is a high priority, at least until you get to Overseas Highway.

Despite hating traffic jams, they’re an inevitable fact of life. It’s funny, though; it’s almost like we thrive the manufactured outrage that comes with rush-hour traffic. Everyone is piling into their cars at exactly 5 p.m. to go home – how dare they? Sometimes, though, traffic jams can seemingly come out of nowhere, catching you off guard. Sometimes they arise from tragedy, such as careless or reckless driving. No matter the reason for the traffic, if you find yourself stuck behind the wheel for an interminable amount of time, you can help it pass faster (and go smoother!) with these four tips.

Stay calm.

While it may be tempting to lean on the horn to vent your frustrations to other drivers, it’s extremely important to stay calm. Not only does losing your temper sully your own mood, it can also affect the attitude of surrounding drivers, too. If things escalate, you may expose yourself to a road rage incident that can put you and your passengers at risk. Instead, as annoyed as you may be, try to stay calm and make the most out of your bad situation. By leading by example, you can help set a better tone for all drivers out there.

Bring drinks and snacks.

If being stuck in traffic isn’t bad enough, imagine being stuck in traffic during lunch or dinnertime. Fortunately, sometimes something as simple as a light snack can quickly turn your poor mood around. It’s a proven fact that the commute hangries are a very real thing. If your stomach is growling and you see no exit from the traffic any time soon, it wouldn’t hurt to dig into your snack stash (you do have one, don’t you?). Keep simple, non-perishable things like dried fruit, jerky, nuts, and granola bars stored in the back seat or the glove compartment. Don’t forget bottled water, either, to help wash your snacks down.

Play your favorite tunes.

Yes, being stuck in traffic is lame and you hate it. No, you don’t want to listen to the radio. You want to pout and be angry about it. While it’s tempting to stay sullen and stew in silence, turning on your radio can help you twofold: first, you’ll get any updated traffic reports from the local news to help you figure out what’s going on; and secondly, you can jam out to your favorite music at the same time. Roll up your window (for the sake of everyone else’s ear drums), throw your head back, and enjoy a solo karaoke sesh. After all, your car is a no judgement zone.

Watch out for other drivers.

Even if you’ve got your wits about you, other drivers may not be as levelheaded as you are in during a standstill. While you’re understandably upset about your delays, other drivers can be downright livid about the traffic conditions. Not only should you keep your eyes open for other commuters behaving erratically, you should also be mindful of the flow of traffic. Just as quickly as it had stopped, it can easily start back up again. And you do not want to be the jerk holding everyone up when it does.

Nobody likes being stuck in traffic. (Or, if you do, you’re a weirdo and a statistical aberration. Just saying.) However, if you ever do find yourself stuck in traffic here in South Florida, these helpful suggestions can hopefully take the edge off the stress. Who knows? While you may not get to a point where you’re active looking forward to a traffic jam in the future, at least you’ll know how to handle unplanned traffic delays with composure and grace when they do inevitably happen again.

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Photo credit: Vincenzo Malagoli