4 Tidewater region tips to stem the traffic tide

Traffic isn't going away, but you can get around it with a little planning.

You can sum up traffic in five words: It is what it is. No one likes it, but with everyone having to get some place – typically work – it has a tendency to slow things down and fray nerves. In short, it stinks.

Every city is affected by it, some more than others. In Los Angeles for instance, traffic congestion causes motorists to spend 80 hours per year in bumper-to-bumper conditions, according to a joint study led by researchers from the Texas A&M Traffic Research Institute. In New York, gridlock causes an average of 74 hours of delay per commuter, and 67 in San Jose, California.

The nation's capital tops them all, though. In Washington, D.C., drivers spend an average of 82 extra hours per year at the wheel with cars at a virtual standstill.

If your daily grind is in the Tidewater area, surely you feel the Beltway's pain. Whether it's the Downtown Tunnel in Norfolk or the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel in Hampton, traffic conditions can often bring new meaning to the term "bottleneck."

In the perfect world, snapping your fingers would magically teleport you to your intended destination. Impossible, though, that may be, there are things you can do to make your commute less time-consuming, or at the very least, less stressful.

Here are a few traffic tips to be mindful of when tooling around the Tidewater region:

Stay in lane, avoid merging

If there's one thing Tidewater has plenty of, it's tunnels. Tunnels can both expedite the flow of traffic by moving drivers through difficult terrain, but they can also make for cramped quarters when congestion is heavy. If possible, stay in the same lane for the duration of your time in the tunnel. This can help to quicken the flow of traffic.

Keep tabs on time

The HRBT may be bottlenecked at one moment, and at the next it may be in the free and clear. That's because motorists tend to hit the road at the same time, in accordance with when they clock in and out of work. The next time you're stuck in traffic, take a look at the clock to see what time it is. Then, adjust your start or finish time.

Wake up early

The early bird not only gets the worm, but it also gets a better position on the roadways. Waking up a little bit earlier may be difficult, but the sacrifice will spare you a lot of frustration – both for you and your car.

Listen to traffic reports

Most of the local news stations have up-to-the-minute reports on what the traffic situation is like on the streets of Newport News, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, and the surrounding interior. Get into the habit of turning on your favorite news station in the morning to see what the latest happenings are, especially if conditions are slick or there's an accident causing delays.

There's an app for that

Yes, it's true, there are mobile applications that can help you get where you need to go in as quick a manner as possible. INRIX is one such app, available both at its website and the iTunes Store. The traffic navigation service has real-time road incident data on 4 million miles of roadway in nearly three dozen countries. Beat the Traffic is another highly popular traffic information resource for whenever you're on the move.

These tips should help you steer clear of traffic trauma when time is of the essence.