July 20th, 2020| If you live in Sacramento, you’re likely behind the wheel of your vehicle longer than most people on your typical daily commute. One study suggests that Sacramento drivers spend 60 hours each year driving in traffic, establishing the city as having the 22nd-worst commute delay in the country. Traffic has worsened significantly in Sacramento over the past few decades. To give some context, in 1982, people spent approximately only 16 hours on congested roads each year, meaning traffic today is nearly 4x worse! In other words, locals’ gripes about that awful Sacramento traffic are completely justified.
The Worst Traffic Times in SacramentoOn weekdays, Sacramento’s roads are most congested between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. On weekends, Sacramento drivers are most likely to encounter traffic between noon and 2 p.m. Unfortunately, for many commuters in Sacramento, braving long lines of vehicles during these hours of the day is unavoidable.
Why Is Traffic So Bad in Sacramento?The causes of our traffic woes are multi-fold. Sacramento is one of the fastest growing cities in California, which means there are an increasing number of vehicles on our roads. Another factor is the rise of so-called super commuters—people who face over an hour of commute times each day. The lack of affordable housing has pushed many people who work in Sacramento further away from the city, and they pay dearly in the form of time stuck in traffic.
The Consequences of Congested RoadsEvery year, commuters in Sacramento lose approximately $1,022 and 24 gallons of fuel because of traffic. In addition to lost time, money, and gas, congested roads cause other problems. Heavy traffic:
- Causes wear and tear on vehicles through repeated braking and accelerating.
- Blocks the path of emergency responders.
- Induces anger or “road rage” among some drivers.
- Contributes to air pollution and harmful gas emissions.
Is There Hope for a Day When Sacramento Has Less Traffic?Probably not. If you’re hoping that these numbers will improve in the years to come (pandemics and stay-at-home orders not withstanding), we hate to tell you things might get even worse. Researchers say that in 10 years, Sacramento drivers could spend up to 70 hours a year behind the wheel during their commutes.
But Isn’t There a Way to Solve Sacramento’s Traffic Problems?Easing commuters’ traffic problems is possible, though it usually requires solutions that are either impractical or impossible. The Brookings Institution, a reputable Washington, D.C. think tank, suggests four ways to deal with congestion: 1) Introducing tolls during the most heavily trafficked hours of the day to deter motorists. 2) Expanding road capacity to accommodate more drivers. 3) Expanding public transportation to give people more options. 4) Accepting it. Yes, one of the leading think tanks in world suggests we essentially “get over it.” Brookings believes that option number four is the most realistic one. That’s because significant infrastructure improvements and tolls are politically and financially impossible in most parts of the U.S. If this esteemed think tank is right, we might benefit from looking at ways to make our commutes more tolerable. Enjoying this article? You might also be interested in learning more about the worst traffic times in San Francisco.
How to Stop Worrying and Love TrafficIf traffic is to be lumped in with death and taxes as something all of us will encounter, we’re best served by looking for ways to cope with it. Here are three methods for overcoming traffic-induced stress:
- Breathe: Researchers report that breathing techniques alleviate stress. Though some of these techniques are complex, others are doable even when behind the wheel. For example, one method of breathing for stress reduction is to simply exhale more slowly on each breath until stress subsides. Simple and effective.
- Listen to something engaging: Maybe you have certain types of music that put you at ease, or perhaps you enjoy podcasts or audiobooks. Whatever your entertainment of choice might be, being stuck in traffic is an opportunity to enjoy it. Just make sure you keep the volume down, so you can hear warnings signs of dangerous situations and avoid causing a distracted driving accident.
- Reframe the situation: You can view traffic as a waste of precious time, or you could view it as a break from the many demands you face at home or work. A simple change in perspective can make sitting idly much easier to endure.
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