Some people absolutely dread the morning and evening commutes to and from work, school and elsewhere. Others look forward to it as an escape from the workday grind and the responsibilities of the home. Everyone can agree on one thing: A commute that takes half an hour or longer certainly tests the nerves. This is especially true for those who reside in or near busy metropolitan centers.

Location, Location, Location!

The length of time it takes you to get to work largely hinges on the amount of traffic along your route. If you reside and work in a rural or remote suburban area, you probably do not mind your commute. Roads in rural and some suburban areas tend to have comparably light traffic. Those who reside in populous suburbs or dense cities typically have longer and more stressful commutes.

The bottom line is the more vehicles that traverse your route to and from work, the longer your commute will be. Traffic has significantly spiked in major cities across the past couple of decades as population growth and urban sprawl have spiked. If big city driving gets the best of you and you end up with a speeding ticket, don’t panic. Attend a defensive driving course and it will help calm your nerves while behind the wheel, keep your driver’s license in good standing and prevent your automobile insurance rates from soaring.

Timing is Everything

The time your work day begins plays a major part in the length and quality of your commute. In an ideal world, you would be able to set your own hours, showing up and leaving work whenever you like. Unfortunately, most people must be at work by 9 AM and leave around 5 PM. These are the worst times to be on the road as most workers abide by the same 9 to 5 schedule as just about everyone else.

You can get a head start on the traffic crowd by starting the day a bit early or leaving work after the rush our subsides. Those who show up to work between 6 and 8 in the morning don’t have to battle as nearly as much traffic as the 9 to 5 worker. It also helps to head home around 6:30 PM or later. If you don’t want to work a 10-hour work day, consider joining a gym near your office or head to a nearby park for some exercise. Get your daily exercise out of the week in the hour or two after work and you will face significantly less traffic during your ride home.

Other Key Factors to Consider

Experienced drivers know each daily commute poses unique challenges. There are all sorts of dynamics in play when it comes to the morning and evening commute. Keep your radio tuned to a local news station so you are aware of accidents or other traffic disruptions along your travel route. It also helps to listen to the local news updates on radio or TV while going through your morning routine. If possible, listen to these updates at work or take a moment to check Google Maps and other real-time traffic update websites before leaving for the day.

Don’t forget about weather! Anything from rain to winds, snow, hail and other inclement conditions can affect your traffic commute. The savviest drivers check the weather forecast a couple times per day. It really does help to have an idea as to what sort of conditions you will face when you get behind the wheel and head to work or back home for the evening. Even a light rain has the potential to make the roads slippery and result in nasty accidents that case mile-long traffic congestion.