It’s tempting to cut across a petrol station forecourt to avoid a traffic light, or to quickly nip down a private road between two other streets to avoid taking the longer way around where you might be held up at a junction, but should you do it?
Shortcuts might make sense if they are quicker, use less fuel or are less dangerous. By taking a shortcut, you may be alleviating traffic congestion on one route (although, you could be contributing to it on another route).
Advantages of taking a shortcut
- You’ll reduce your journey time. Even reducing it by a minute feels like a long time and this does add up over the year
- A shorter journey time and less time sitting in traffic means less fuel burned which is good for the environment and for your wallet
- You’ll reduce the traffic on the route you avoided
- You won’t be blocking another vehicle from genuinely using the petrol station or getting into the supermarket car park.
Sometimes there’s the opportunity to take a shortcut through a supermarket car park or down a private alley owned by a business. The owners of the property may put up signs saying no through road or no thoroughfare if they definitely do not want the general public using this shortcut, but should you use it even if there are no signs?
There are some downsides to taking a shortcut:
- Travelling through areas with high numbers of pedestrians, such as a car park, increases the chance that a pedestrian will be hit
- Extra traffic causes congestion for people genuinely using the car park or petrol station – this can cause frustration that eventually means those people stop going to that business and then the business suffers
- Moving congestion from one pinch point might simply mean the congestion is moved along the road
- Additional traffic on private property causes wear and tear that the landowner must pay for e.g. repairing potholes and remarking lanes
- Narrow private lanes and other areas might not be designed to handle large volumes of traffic
While it might feel good to save a few seconds, theses types of minor shortcuts rarely save any time; sometimes they take more time.
Using a navigation app such as Google Maps, which can reroute you the quickest way is a better option.