How to Write an Essay About Traffic Jams

Many students could use their personal experiences in traffic jams to write an essay.

Essays give students a format for expressing their thoughts in an organized manner. Students provide information, review something or make an argument in essays, which they often write in elementary, middle or high school. If you're allowed to choose your topic, you could write an informative or argumentative essay about traffic jams, for which you'd need to gather facts or personal stories to support your claims.

Conduct research on traffic jams, finding facts about topics such as their frequency, ways to prevent or stop them, and the effect road work and accidents have on them. Use credible sources such as the U.S. Department of Transportation. You may want to look for information on specific traffic jams, such as the nine-day traffic jam in Beijing that went for more than 60 miles. Try to find interesting facts that stand out, on which you can base your paper or use in your introduction.

Draw on personal experiences to narrow down your topic. You could write about a traffic jam you've been in or one someone you know has experienced. Talk about topics such as the activities you and others did to stay occupied during the experience, the places you were trying to get to, the resources you had in your car or the crazy things you saw other individuals do. Use personal experience in the introduction of the paper or throughout the essay, depending on how personal you want the piece to be.

Think about your audience as you start writing about your topic, tailoring your language, descriptions and tone to the people for whom you're writing. Even if you're writing for an educated person, such as a teacher, explain terms you use that may not be common knowledge, especially those related to traffic-related issues such as construction zones. Also write with a voice that fits with your intended audience. For example, you could use a humorous or scholarly tone when writing about traffic jams, depending on how you think the audience will respond.

Follow a structure for your paper, making sure you include important parts such as an introduction, body and conclusion. Your essay could follow a five-paragraph format or be longer, depending on how much space you need for your argument or presentation of facts. An introduction includes a thesis statement, a sentence or more that displays your argument or the major ideas you'll be discussing. For example, your thesis statement could be how traffic jams have increased as the number of people commuting to a certain city has gone up or how a traffic jam caused you to learn something new about somebody in your family.

Conduct rewrites on your essay; after you've let it sit for a few hours, or even a day or more, you'll be critical of your piece when you look at it again. Go through your essay sentence by sentence, looking at how well you presented your information or argument about traffic jams and reading for errors in spelling and grammar. Make sure you're spelling key terms related to traffic jams correctly, such as "traffic congestion."

Laura Latzko is a freelance writer based in Phoenix, Ariz. She has reported for the "Columbia Missourian," "Columbia Daily Tribune," "Downtown Express" and "Washington Times." She holds a Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Missouri.