Urban sprawl wasn’t invented in Houston, but that’s little comfort to you and thousands of other drivers stuck in the city’s daily commute. It feels like natives and newcomers are all crawling along in the same endless lane of cars. However, the locals have a few secrets that can help you survive Houston’s rush hour traffic.
Know the Roads
Interstate Highway 45 runs north of downtown, through the heart of Houston and south to Galveston. It’s not much fun during rush hour, but there are ways around the gridlock. The highway intersects Beltway 8 just south of Bush Intercontinental Airport, and this toll road is well worth the fare. It circles the entire metroplex, and it also saves drivers stuck on U.S. Highway 59, the main corridor southwest of town. Farther in, both I-45 and U.S. 59 hit Loop 610. The Loop cuts a tighter circle around downtown and makes it easier to access the business district. Interstate Highway10 is the main artery running east and west, and it also connects with the Beltway and the Loop. HOV and toll lanes run the length of I-10, and both help you avoid the commuting crunch.
Know the Traffic
Knowledge is power when it comes to staying safe, and Houston has a surprising array of resources to help you plan your commute. Local television channels broadcast road reports as early as 5 a.m. Houston’s TransStar website features real-time maps of area traffic flow as well as the latest information on closures and construction. Smart drivers stay tuned to local radio stations specializing in up-to-the-minute traffic and weather reports. An access road system parallels all the major corridors, and a quick exit off the highway gives you a clear shot around trouble spots; the next entrance ramp puts you right back on your commute. Houston rush hour is easier to navigate than newcomers might think, but a GPS system is always the perfect car accessory even for seasoned road warriors.
Know What to Do
Going with the flow is your best defense against Houston’s rush hour. While this seems painfully slow at times, it’s your safest strategy. Drivers who use the shoulder lanes to fly past the gridlock risk a serious accident and guarantee a traffic ticket. Locals know that the best way to handle the snail’s pace is to slow down, relax and be prepared. Always keep your cell phone turned off, but keep it handy. The city has a safe tow program that helps disabled vehicles out of harm’s way, but make sure that you store important numbers on your phone. Your list should include your own auto shop, insurance carrier and the number of a reputable Houston auto accident lawyer. In case of an accident, you’ll be glad that you have these numbers handy.
Surviving Houston’s gridlock is a skill that anyone can develop. It’s easy to learn the layout and stay updated on highway and weather conditions. Patience is your friend on crowded roads, and it’s your ticket to a safe drive. Back up all of this with those vital phone numbers, and you’ll survive Houston’s rush hour commute.
A former TV morning news anchor, Ann Bailey compiles this list for the benefit of Houston drivers in heavy traffic conditions. A Houston auto accident lawyer, such as those available at http://www.houston-accidentattorney(dot)com/, will actively pursue any justice and compensation deserved for their client in auto accidents due to another driver’s error.
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