All joy, goodwill and togetherness that is invoked by the holiday goes out the window in bumper to bumper traffic. People get mean. There are a lot of people on the road who don't frequently drive in traffic, and as a result are stressed and prone to irrational actions. These tips will hopefully save you time and make you safer.
1. This is where your EZ Pass pays off. Don't leave this at home, as the cash lanes will become clogged with travelers and those trying to cut in line will hold up the EZ Pass lanes. If you know your route, take the path with less cash lanes, for example on the GWB, always take the lower level, because the upper will be clogged with travellers. If there is no alternative option, always shoot for the middle lane. Also, scan ahead at the lift gates at the lanes, and make sure you pick a lane thats has gates rising and falling, indicating activity. Otherwise, you might get caught behind someone who meandered into the wrong lane. But also watch out. Those full speed, 55 MPH EZ Pass lanes are great, until you get behind someone who doesn't realize what they are, and slams on their brakes in traffic. Be ready for it, as the pileup is inevitable this holiday season
2. Leave extra time. Less rush = less panic= less stress
3. Check your fluids, tire pressure and other important items on your car - breaking down in worse in the cold, and stop and go traffic is brutal on a motor and will cause already worn components to fail
4. Let it ride- For some reason, the holidays create stress. On the eve of major holidays is actually when I have witnessed the most instances of road rage and angst behind the wheel from fellow drivers. People yell, cut each other off. Bear in mind that as seasoned commuters, we are now sharing the road with people who don't drive as often and don't know where they are going. This will mean sudden lane changes, sudden stops and other dangerous maneuvers. Give them room, anticipate their actions.
5. Don't be that guy -We all love our GPS systems, but if you use it frequently, we know they like to lie to us. Always double check your route if you are unfamiliar.
6. Know your alternate routes - if you are going to New England or upstate NY, remember the Merritt Parkway(CT), the Taconic, Rt. 52,(NY) Rt 34 (CT) and 684 (NY) are all good thruway alternatives. If in NJ, check for traffic on the Eastern or Western spur, and if you find yourself stuck, switch spurs through the Vincent Lombardi Service Area. Also, don't forget about Rt. 46, a great alternate to the GWB. If you can, avoid the CBX and Belt at all costs.
7. Inclement weather is even more dangerous. Now that more cars have AWD, travelers who dont drive as much think this makes them invincible to the elements. You and I know All wheel "drive" is really all wheel "slide". Let them pass you, and then you can pass them later when they are in a ditch.
8. If you get pulled over, don't try to talk your way out of ticket using the "have a heart, it's the holidays" line. There is a lot of other places the cop would rather be than on patrol. You are going to have to be much more creative.
9. On the eve of a holiday, expect to be stuck anytime between 3 pm and 10 pm. On the holiday itself, peak travel time are between 7 and 3 pm.
10. If you are picking people up at the airport, arrange for a pickup in not the usual area. Usually departure gates will be less packed, depending on what time you go, and sometimes it might even be better to arrange pickup at another termina
11. And Finally - Be Uber defensive - When coming home at night, remember a lot of people will be filled with wine and turkey, which means buzzed drivers, slower reaction times, and people falling asleep behind the wheel. Now is the time that you need to be defensive for your own safety, and remember that not everyone will obey the rules of the road. On that note, be careful and be safe and limit your intake of alcohol and turkey.
Have a safe and happy holiday!