How to Make the Most of Your Inevitable Rush Hour Encounter

It’s no secret Austin is a popular place–and we Austinites are proud of that. Plenty of people have migrated here from all over through the past decade, and we’ve seen some impressive growth. In fact, Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos was the nation’s second fastest growing metro area between April 2010 and July 2011, when the metro area saw a 3.9 percent population increase and the total combined population expanded to 1.78 million. As inhabitants of a college city and adherents to good ol’ fashioned southern hospitality, we’ve always been accepting and welcoming to new folks and their unique points of view. That’s part of what makes Austin great. But more people means more cars–and more cars means more traffic.

Thanks to our robust growth, Austin was ranked in the top ten worst US cities for traffic in last year’s assessment by Time. There’s no denying our roads are congested, so since drivers are bound to run into bumper-to-bumper situations in Austin eventually, here are some tips for staying safe, calm and entertained in Austin commute traffic without distracting yourself from the wheel.

1. Turn on the Radio

Okay. It might not last you long. It might remind you why you turned it off in the first place, but scan the channels for anything interesting. Who knows! You might discover some modern music you really like, an interesting news story or something just awful enough to be entertaining.

2. Switch out Your CD

If your car has a CD player, switch out that disc that’s been playing on loop for weeks–or months. The repetition of sounds can cause drowsiness and irritation. When you’re over the radio, spice up your commute with songs you haven’t heard in some time.

3. Make a List

Your eyes should always be on the road when moving, but sometimes complete stand-stills happen. With your foot firmly on the brakes, you can jot down some points on your to-do or grocery list–or appoint your passenger as a scribe and dictate your intentions.

4. Try Impressions

Especially if you’ve a buddy in the car, see how many actors or cartoon characters you can imitate! Alternatively, try on foreign accents.

5. Find Your Perfect Car

Look around. Assess the vehicles you pass (or sit idly beside.) Which would you rather be driving?

6. Play the Acronym Game

Adults and older children choose a license plate on a car nearby. Each person comes up with what the letters stand for, or the license plate’s acronym. For example, if the letters on your chosen license plate were GOM, your acronym could be Gross Old Milk. The funniest or most creative acronym wins and the winner of each round chooses the next license plate.

Austin commute traffic is tough! Next time you’re stuck in the thick of things, try one of these entertaining techniques–but remember to always concentrate on the road when moving. Never let your entertainment become a distraction.

Stay safe on the road, Austin!