Approximately 25% of all car accidents occur during the heavy traffic hours of the morning and evening rush hours. There are many contributing factors to rush hour accidents that can cause disabling injuries and even deaths.

Many drivers are distracted. They may be gulping coffee or applying make-up behind the wheel or trying to light that last cigarette on the way in to work. They might be engaged in an animated discussion with passengers in the car or simply wool-gathering as they drive along and react too slowly to the cars braking ahead. But you can make your commute safer with the following tips.

Remain calm in stressful times

Stop-and-go traffic and gridlocked highways may be hallmarks of rush hour stress, but you still determine your own response to the adverse conditions. Instead of snarling curses at other drivers or flipping one-finger salutes, adopt a more magnanimous approach to other drivers’ mistakes and foibles.

Reduce your own driving stressors

Invest in a meditation tape or listen to soothing music when driving in traffic. Eat breakfast before leaving home so you’re not gobbling a biscuit while jockeying for position in traffic or hangry from skipping the first meal of the day.

Allow extra time

Allow yourself a few minutes’ buffer on the daily commute so you’re not rushing out the door every day. This can keep you from speeding and getting ticketed (and further delaying your arrival at work).

Plan alternate routes

Even secondary routes that are longer may get you to your destination faster if they are less-traveled. It’s also a good idea to occasionally take another route home or to work just to break up the routine of your day.

Never engage in road rage

Some drivers intentionally put themselves in harm’s way with angry or mentally ill motorists by responding to another driver’s road rage antics. Avoid getting drawn in by gesticulations and call 911 if you feel threatened.

If you get injured in a rush hour accident, your injuries can lay you low for weeks or even months, especially if you undergo surgery. If another driver’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident, you may be able to seek financial compensation for any losses and damages.

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