The one thing you want to avoid is becoming trapped behind the car in front of you. The way to avoid that is to stop far enough behind that you can still see their rear tires touching the pavement. That way, you can maneuver around it if you need to.

You’ve heard of, or perhaps have been a part of, a pile up where one car rams into the car in front of them and it causes a domino effect. If you leave enough space between you and the car in front of you, you’re not trapped; you can swing your car to either side and avoid being rammed from behind.

Sometimes traffic jams simply cannot be avoided. That’s another reason to keep more than a quarter tank of gas in your car. You don’t want to run out at a time like that.

Always watch your temperature gauge when you’re stopped in traffic. Most cars are designed to be able to idle indefinitely—even with the air conditioning on. Still, you need to watch that gauge. If you notice your engine heating up, roll your windows down and turn off the air conditioning.

It’s always a good idea here in the desert southwest to carry extra water with you. Long traffic tie-ups or breakdowns can turn deadly in the summer heat.

Traffic jams happen in the winter, as well. Some states require you to have a safety kit in your vehicle. The kit usually contains items like bottled water, a blanket and a flashlight. It’s not a bad idea. You never know when you’ll be caught in traffic, or how long it will take to clear the roads.

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