New York City is one of the most famous cities on Earth. Even people who haven’t actually visited or lived in NYC feel like they know the city pretty well from its many appearances in films and on TV shows, and countless individuals from all over the globe plan their trips to the Big Apple each and every year, with many more deciding to settle in NYC permanently.
It’s easy to see why the city has such enormous appeal. It’s a truly one of a kind place, with towering skyscrapers, world-class restaurants, an incredible atmosphere, amazing shops, one of the most famous theater districts on the planet, iconic monuments like the Statue of Liberty, and so much to see, do, and enjoy for folks of all ages.
But being in New York City isn’t always easy. The city has its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to getting around. Most folks who are local tend to rely on the city’s subways and taxis, with the majority of New Yorkers not actually owning their own car. However, there are still plenty of cars on the roads in this city, and if you want to drive yourself around, you’ll need to prepare properly.
The roads are often busy, the traffic can seem like it never ends, and pedestrians are prone to simply stepping off the sidewalk and trying to cross the street at a moment’s notice. With so many hazards all around, combined with the impressive skyscrapers and the immense atmosphere of the city itself, driving in NYC is undoubtedly a challenge, but here are some tips to help you stay safe.
Take it Seriously
If you’re planning to drive around on the roads of New York City, you need to be ready for a truly unique experience. There’s nowhere quite like NYC anywhere on Earth, and even if you already live in a big city and have experience of driving in places like Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or international locations like Paris and London, driving in NYC may still be a challenge for you.
As stated earlier, this is a very busy city. There’s not really a “rush hour” in NYC, as the roads are more or less busy every single hour of the day, and even at night. So you’ll need to be ready for lots of traffic, huge numbers of pedestrians, countless tourists who might not know the local rules of the road, and lots of cyclists as well. You have to take it seriously and not let your focus slip.
Don’t Get Angry
It’s fair to say that road rage is a bit of a problem in New York City. There are many reports of drivers getting frustrated and “seeing red” while sitting behind the wheels of their cars, which can then lead to reckless behavior, violence, and even fatalities in some of the worst incidents, like a July 2021 case in which a man was shot in the stomach because of road rage.
In a city with so much traffic and pressure, it’s easy to see why so many people get angry on the roads, but you should try to avoid those negative emotions if you can. Try to keep calm and collected while driving your car, accepting the fact that you will encounter bad drivers and difficult situations along the way, but trying to focus on keeping yourself and your passengers safe.
Remain Aware, Alert, and Observant
Following on from the previous point, your skills of awareness and observation will definitely be put to the test as you navigate the grid-like roads of New York City, but it’s absolutely vital to keep your senses alert and your concentration levels high in order to avoid any accidents and all of the legal consequences that can come along with them.
While driving in New York, you need to be aware of your surroundings, keeping your hands on the wheel, moving at a steady speed, and being ready to react at a moment’s notice. There’s always a chance that someone might step out into the road or appear from behind a parked car, and you also need to be aware of road signs, upcoming lights, and so on. Don’t let yourself get distracted.
Keep Your Distance
Keeping your distance from the car in front of you should be one of the first things taught to any young learner driver, but it’s a lesson that many people seem to forget as they get older and more experienced on the road. Indeed, in big city environments like New York City, it’s common to see cars positioned bumper-to-bumper, driving really close to each other almost all of the time.
This can be very dangerous because if the car in front of you suddenly needs to slow down or stop, you might not have enough distance to react and avoid driving right into the back of them. This is partly why so many rear-end collisions happen in NYC. To avoid being a victim of such a collision, make sure to maintain a safe distance at all times.
If you ask many New Yorkers for driving tips in the Big Apple, a lot of them will tell you not to drive at all. After all, the city has one of the best subway systems anywhere in the world, as well as plenty of buses and world-famous taxis, plus the advantages of modern rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. In short, there are a lot of ways to get around in NYC.
So, if you are planning to drive in the big city, you might want to consider other options instead. You can still own a car and use a car in New York, but there might be some journeys that are simply easier to make with the help of public transport. If you use a taxi or subway, you also won’t have to worry about finding a place to park, which can save you a lot of time and hassle too.
Driving in NYC can be a big challenge, but if you’re willing to give it a try, make sure to keep these tips in mind and stay safe on the big city streets.