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Old 30th July 2016, 00:27   #1
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Default Long traffic jam - Best practices?

We all must have heard and seen news about the 12+ hour traffic jam in Gurgaon (Gurugram) after heavy rains. Today, Bangalore had a similar experience when a lake overflowed onto the nearby roads cause of overnight rains, leading to huge traffic jams.
We've had similar scenarios occuring previously in cities like Mumbai and Chennai.
I've myself been stuck in 4-5 hour long jams and I'm sure many of you must have endured the same A few times.

I'd like to discuss here and get your views on as to what do we do once stuck? Obviously, avoidance would be the best solution but sometimes we just end up in a jam and don't have anywhere else to go.
So What are the best practices one should follow in such situations to ensure that you yourself, and your vehicle remain in the best of health? How do we remain calm in such extreme situations and ensure our safety.

With regards to the car, what would be the certain points to keep in mind so that we don't run out of fuel or suffer a breakdown?
Please pitch in with your views on this.
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Old 30th July 2016, 08:29   #2
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

Although, the question is about long traffic jams in general, let me talk about the ones caused by flooding.

After the Mumbai floods about 10 years back, there were quite a few learnings.
Let me list out a few I can remember:

1. First and foremost, stay in your lane. People who try to change the lanes when traffic becomes slow and eventually stops are the biggest reason why the jam gets worse really fast and takes forever to untangle.

2. If the jam is caused by flooding of the streets, keep a constant eye on the water level. Leave the vehicle when water rises to 2-2.5 feet from ground. Know when to let go off the car. Lot of people were found dead in cars during the Mumbai floods due to suffocation.

3. As the water level rises, it would get increasingly difficult to open the car's door and step out. So if you decide to wait it out in the car, ensure that you have a hammer or something heavy if you need to break the window glass to come out. Don't count on your power-windows, which might not work.

4. Once your car's air-intake is under water, don't even try to crank and start the car. You would cause serious damage to the engine.

5. Listen to radio channels and if possible twitter feeds about your city's traffic situations so that you are updated about the situation getting worse or better.

6. As the situation becomes worse, mobile networks also get jammed due to heavy traffic. So in case of doubt of a developing situation, make calls early on to your family and friends so that they know where you are stuck and which direction you are headed. Making mobile calls may not be possible after another couple of hours.

7. Prepare your car for scenarios like urban flood BEFORE it happens. Some tools, hammer, tow-rope, torch, something to eat, spare pair of dry clothes etc come to my mind.

8. Help out to ease the traffic and to save people in trouble.

Last edited by SDP : 30th July 2016 at 08:52.
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Old 30th July 2016, 10:53   #3
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

Whether it rains or not, its best to check google maps (with traffic enabled) before leaving home or office. Avoid the red bits, even if you have to take a 5 km detour or you have to go through narrow residential type roads.

If it is raining heavily outside and Google Maps shows blood everywhere, might as well stay in office till things clear up.

Last edited by smartcat : 30th July 2016 at 10:56.
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Old 30th July 2016, 18:18   #4
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

To add to sdp's excellent post - medication, not just your regular ones for bp / diabetes but also some paracetamol, antiseptic cream, also some mosquito repellant cream. You can't stay inside your vehicle with your windows shut and engine running for long, and opening the windows will bring in clouds of mosquitoes eager to find warm places with lots of food.

Try to park at the nearest hotel or restaurant and wait the rain out with hot tea and snacks would be my advice. Or maybe even find a hotel bed to rest in if there's bad flooding and the road is impassable for hours. Of course not heading out especially to an office in the outskirts and with bad roads on the way, and working from home is a wonderful option to exercise.

When you park, cover your car with that waterproof sheet and stick a plastic bag onto the tailpipe so water doesn't enter that way.

Last edited by hserus : 30th July 2016 at 18:21. Reason: A bit more insight from the chennai floods
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Old 30th July 2016, 18:42   #5
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

Basically in extremely heavy rain and bad weather conditions, try not to venture out in the first place, unless you absolutely have to.
India is not the best geared for proper Flood management or any other kind of disaster management to tell the truth.
As long as there is power and the telephone and internet etc are working, one can work from home.
Much more sensible.
Or just take the day off.
Best.
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Old 31st July 2016, 15:00   #6
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hserus View Post
Of course not heading out especially to an office in the outskirts and with bad roads on the way, and working from home is a wonderful option to exercise.

When you park, cover your car with that waterproof sheet and stick a plastic bag onto the tailpipe so water doesn't enter that way.
Bingo! During December 2015 deluge my wife advised me not to head to work at Sriperumbudur from Besant Nagar, but ignoring her pleas I went ahead and had to leave the Bank branch mid way owing to incessant rainfall and eventually reached home around 11:30 PM after battling in my the then Alto Lxi! Could have stayed at home and ...
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Old 31st July 2016, 15:16   #7
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

1) Keep an eye on your fuel levels. If low, better move to the side. If possible, exit and sit it out.
2) Drinking water - Hope you carry enough.
3) If not raining, try to switch off the a/c. Will help you conserve fuel - and also avoid breathing in stale air.
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Old 31st July 2016, 17:19   #8
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

Quote:
Originally Posted by condor View Post
3) If not raining, try to switch off the a/c. Will help you conserve fuel - and also avoid breathing in stale air.
If nothing is moving, switch off the engine entirely.

It must be very tempting to keep it on for the comfort of AC, though. I wonder...

... how long the fuel lasts in an idling car with the engine doing nothing but running the AC?

... how many times the battery will support the stop/start-and-idle-for-a-while cycle, which is probably not enough to return any charge to it.

The only other practical hint I can add to the excellent contributions so far is keep the phone fully charged. Those of us with turbo chargers in the car (and mine still works even though it was under water once) will be the best off. Internet and AC may relieve the tedium and discomfort for a while, but the last thing we want is to find that phone flat when we really need it.
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Old 31st July 2016, 19:40   #9
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

Prevention is always better than cure!
Rains or not traffic jams can have a huge toll on overall health of the car. Specially the battery which plays a huge role in our cars and yet take a fair amount of load in start stop traffic jams.
I always make a point to leave my office or home with my phone fully charged so I don't have to rely on car's battery. The start stop conditions in traffic jams followed by endless hours the headlights/taillights/air-conditioner stay on in these jams suck up a reasonable amount of car's battery. By avoiding charging my phone or any other electronic device I save up on the battery.

Secondly the AC which is a necessity in today's times but over use of it can kill the battery well before it's expiry. Rather I find myself using the AC more in monsoons to avoid my windows from fogging rather than the rest of the seasons despite the heat!

To kill time in the never ending jams I find the radio the most pleasing. It sucks up a negligible amount of battery unless am blasting my car's speakers at high volumes.

Catching up with friends/relatives over phone (Bluetooth headset) can also be a great time killer! You never know they might be stuck in a bigger traffic jam than you!
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Old 31st July 2016, 20:27   #10
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

Some of my notes:
- Its always good to prepare oneself before venturing out.
- Having local awareness about news and geography helps a lot.
- Use mechanisms like Google traffic to see the status
- Shorter lanes/alleys may be good to avoid jams on big roads. But please also note, there is an underlying risk in the event of getting stuck in a shorter lane. Please account for it.
- In times of flood have a good first hand account of waterbodies and low-lying areas in town. If not at-least the bottle neck locations.
- As @sdp said, when stuck, there is no point adding to the chaos. But also at the same time, be aware when to let it go!
- Also on generic terms; perspective of people makes a huge difference. If it pours in Mumbai, in most cases life goes on as normal. In Bangalore one rain, and we all are on tenterhooks (Me included!).
- I understand its a reflection of the surrounding infrastructure. But on the other hand its also a reflection of how we face it.

Last edited by ampere : 31st July 2016 at 20:44.
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Old 1st August 2016, 01:00   #11
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
If nothing is moving, switch off the engine entirely.

It must be very tempting to keep it on for the comfort of AC, though. I wonder...

... how long the fuel lasts in an idling car with the engine doing nothing but running the AC?
1.Try not to sit for long periods of time in an idling car with the AC on and all windows rolled up especially when your stuck in traffic with vehicles next to you-Carbon monoxide can build up and you will not realise it . Remember there are other vehicles too that are running and exhaust gases from these vehicles are circulating in that confined area.

2.Never think of taking a power nap or closing your eyes for a couple of minutes, Again, with the AC running carbon monoxide can build up and there are people that have passed away while asleep in the car with the AC on.

3.Roll down a couple of windows once in a while just for 5-10 seconds.It may be wet and soggy on the outside, but some outside air helps rather than the stale air thats inside the car
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Old 1st August 2016, 02:38   #12
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

CO is a killer, certainly. It should not be in your car, at least not from your own engine. I don't understand what difference the AC would make, though.

I do accept that there have been more-or-less-mysterious deaths of people in closed cars. There should not be any CO, but, in older cars, bodies may have holes and so may exhaust pipes It is not impossible.
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Old 1st August 2016, 05:06   #13
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

Carry a USB to Micro USB cable with you. You can post your phone off the USB port of your car's music system. Helps case of emergencies!

If it's a big jam, try not to change lanes. And please don't try to cross onto the incoming traffic as it will just worsen the situation.

Sticking to highways may be a better bet than taking the by lanes. If a broad highway road has been flooded or jammed, chances are nearby lanes will have worse water and traffic. Plus you will have parked vehicles on inner roads which leads to more congestion.
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Old 1st August 2016, 07:19   #14
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

And if you and your car survived a flood and traffic jam, I'll suggest a quick check at the service centre on the car's condition especially the brakes and clutch.

I drove for 4+ hours on flooded and congested roads. After a week when I was in crawling traffic, I engaged the clutch and to my horror the car moved forward even though the clutch pedal was fully depressed. Had to use the hand brake and then turn off ignition to stall it. The clutch will work on and off at like it had a mind of its own.

Car was towed to the service centre where the issue was identified to be caused by a leak in clutch fluid or something. I guess the damage might have been caused due to the heavy beating the car got the previous week.

It was ok because I was crawling and able to avoid any damage to self and others. Any higher speed and the damage would have been heavier.

So yeah, better to have a basic check on the car after such heavy usage in floods plus traffic. A quick OBD scan might also be helpful to confirm that the ECU isn't throwing up any error codes. The last thing you want is your airbag control module not working.

Last edited by kiku007 : 1st August 2016 at 07:21.
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Old 1st August 2016, 10:12   #15
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Default re: Long traffic jam - Best practices?

In addition to the all the strong points below, here's another one:

* Keep your important documents, electronic items (such as laptop) and anything else that is perishable/prone to damage due to water, on the seat. NOT on the floor, as is common practice.

As a friend found out the harsh way during last week's horrible Gurgaon mess, his laptop bag was placed on the floor and while he was stuck for hours at Hero Honda chowk, he didn't realize when water had entered the cabin. In all the chaos and stress of getting home safe, he overlooked the fact that the laptop was getting drenched in water.
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