These Are Your Most Harrowing Tales of Nightmare Traffic Jams

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CountersteerYour true stories of good and bad things that happen in cars.

A bad traffic jam is one of the most aggravating things a driver can experience. Sitting there, waiting to move an inch, while the line of cars in front of us extends out as far as the eye can see—it’s absolute hell.


A couple weeks ago, I asked you guys about the worst traffic jams that you’ve ever been stuck in. And since it was just Labor Day Weekend, I’m sure more than one of you got delayed somewhere. This is the weekend that usually yields some of the most gruesome traffic jams out of the entire American calendar. AAA estimated that some 35 million people traveled at least 50 miles this holiday, according to the Washington Post.

Weirdly, in the 300 or so miles we drove back down into New York City, we hit very little traffic. It was spooky. In fact, the traffic outside of the Whole Foods in my town the day before Thanksgiving was worse.

But this isn’t a post about me, it’s about you. I’m actually amazed at the perseverance and kindness some of you displayed during these extremely frustrating times. Plus, I’m sure that some of you will read these stories and realize that you were stuck in the same jam. Small world!

Karma (Peter J. Ford)

Good on you!


Bachelor Party (mikemc127)

Twelve hours!


Colombia (FiST + Bike combo)

Don’t scratch the car!


Eeriness (Derek Davis)

Just get a hotel.


Rita (houstonsurvivor)

I got a lot of Hurricane Rita stories.


Damn Hurricanes (Broken-Aero)

Any hurricane is bad for traffic, really.


Hawaii (Mr. Biggs)

At least the view and the weather was nice...?


Snow (Jimmy Jingles)

You came prepared!


Canadian Here (Dr. Aitch)

Don’t go to popular events.


Amber Alert (Ty Rodend)

He SWORE it WASN’T him, huh?


Meeting Up (Corcovado)

Gotta love the Bay Area.

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.


Erin Marquis

I have one! A few years ago I decided it would be fun to drive from Detroit to the Chicago Auto Show. I stayed out there with Toyota, and got a silly TDR Pro fur hat for my time in the Windy City.

On the way back it started to snow. Hard. Which would normally not be a problem, but suddenly traffic stopped. A wall of brake lights IS a problem. Apparently a pair of semis had jackknifed on the freeway, many miles ahead, and the next exit that we could take to avoid the accident was only slightly closer. This was also during my Hardcore History phase, where I was binging everything in the series. Heck it was part of the reason I wanted to drive! I wanted time with just me and Dan Carlin. It just so happened that I was on Ghosts of the Osfront.

So the snow is pounding down, filling up the sides of the road in rural Michigan. Carlin is describing the eastern front of WWII in vivid detail, and it’s like I’m there. There’s nothing but trees on the side of this part of I-94. By hour two in this mess, I swear I can see the gray figures of partisans moving through the woods. By hour three, I had kinda lost it and was waiting for Germans to attack as soon as there was a break in the weather.

This drive from Chicago to Detroit, which normally take 4.5 hours, took me 9 to complete. I eventually had to take country roads almost totally erased by the snow to find a way around the huge pile up. I’ll never forget my time at the front.