Big City Driving Requires New Skills

For drivers who are not used to the busy streets of a metropolis, driving in the big city can be frustrating and even dangerous. If you’ve never driven in a bustling city, not knowing what you are doing can have very serious consequences: The New York Department of Transportation reports that driver inattention caused 36 percent of crashes that seriously or fatally injured a pedestrian, and traffic crashes cost the city $4.49 billion dollars a year. If you are moving to a busy metro area, here are a few tips to help you drive safe and smart:

How to Drive in the City – Feel the Rush

There’s no avoiding it — if you are moving to a busy and densely-populated city, you have to prepare for gridlock. Though the speed limit in Manhattan is 30 mph, StreetsBlog NYC reports that GPS data collected from cabs reveals the average driving speed in lower Manhattan was 9.3 MPH in 2012. Keep in mind that long-time residents encounter such congestion every day and are going to be less cautious than newcomers. Do everything you can to avoid rush hours, which are usually between 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. You are more likely to have an accident, encounter more frustration, and generally be miserable during any city’s rush hour.

Familiarize Yourself

It helps to know where the dangers lurk in your particular city. Are there many cyclists? Cyclists offer many unique dangers to drivers. They often bike alongside the parallel parked cars that seem to inhabit every major street in many cities, and can be injured by a driver who opens his or her door without paying attention. Cyclists are a common sight in many metropolitan cities, and require extra attentiveness from drivers on the road.

Is their a lot of pedestrian traffic? Cities with heavy pedestrian traffic present their own dangers. Many pedestrians jaywalk or attempt to cross the street even if the “Don’t Walk” signal is on. The Las Vegas Sun reported recently that accidents involving pedestrians resulting in fatalities occurred on average every six days in Clark County. Always give them the right of way, regardless of the situation.

It also helps to become familiar with your new city’s local laws and regulations. For example, if you are moving to New York, consider taking a NY permit practice test before taking the official exam; did you already know there is a no-turn-on-red law through the entire Five Boroughs? Learning about the traffics laws of a new city can save you from a ticket or accident down the road.

Remain Calm

The greatest danger on the road is yourself. Don’t ever drive and text, and don’t let your frustration about crowded roads or bumper-to-bumper traffic drive you to make dangerous mistakes. You’ll encounter plenty of stressful situations on the road in population-dense cities, and it’s important to always keep your wits about you. Don’t let frustration get to you; after all, you aren’t stuck in traffic, you are the traffic.

About the Author: Laura DeNaples is a director of urban planning, blogger, and cat enthusiast.