Tampa police: Those random traffic jams could be the result of one driver's bad habits

Random traffic jams can come out of the blue, but Tampa police say they can occur from common – and unnecessary – driving habits. 

There are obvious reasons for those backups: traffic crashes or sheer volume during rush hour.

"But there are those mystery traffic jams when you're driving," explained Officer Roy Paz with the Tampa Police Department. "You end up in this traffic jam and you come out of it, and you're like, ‘What happened? Why were all these cars driving so slow?"

On Good Day Tampa Bay, he said when you mix a little bit of volume and certain driving habits together, it ends up equaling into a traffic jam. Officer Paz offered these "don'ts" to do out there to try to prevent those random backups.

Don't stay in the left lane if other drivers are passing you

This is a pet peeve for a lot of people, Officer Roy said, but the law says that a driver may not drive in the left lane if they know, or reasonably should know, that they are being overtaken by another vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed. 

"Regardless of what the other car's speed is, if you're in the left lane and another car comes up, you're supposed to get out of the way," he explained. "Let that car pass by."

If you don't, and you stay in that lane, it causes traffic to back up.

"It's causing the other cars to have to move around," Officer Paz said. "They're having to put on their brakes, having to slow down, speed up – it's causing a lot of issues. Stay out of that left lane if you're not passing." 

Don't tap your brakes over and over

There are times when drivers just tap on their brakes -- such as when there is no vehicle immediately in front of them -- so it appears to be for no reason, Officer Paz said. 

"They're driving, and they're like, ‘Oh, I'm going a little fast. I got to tap on the brakes,'" he described. "It causes all the other cars to tap on their brakes too. It causes cars to slow down and it causes a traffic jam – believe it or not."

Don't change lanes unnecessarily

Officer Paz said there are drivers who appear to be in a rush, and will frequently change lanes, but that can also cause a traffic jam.

"All those changing lanes causes people to tap on their brakes and causes them to slow down," he said.

Now, when it comes to good driving habits, Officer Paz suggested the following:
-    Try to maintain a constant speed while you're driving
-    Be smart and patient when lanes are narrowing.
-    Try to let people merge and use the "zippering" technique. One car in one lane merges, one car in the other lane merges, and so on.