Whether you’re passionate about driving or you simply use your car to take you from one place to another, you surely want to enjoy smooth and safe rides wherever you go. Unfortunately, heavy traffic, unfamiliar roads, labyrinthine one-way streets, other traffic participants with less than stellar driving skills and the hustle and bustle of city life in general make this a rather unlikely prospect.
So how can you overcome the challenges faced by drivers in the urban jungles of today and make the experience of driving in a hectic city less daunting and a bit more enjoyable? We’ve put together a list with some useful driving tips that will make you a better city driver so you can feel more confident when you get behind the wheel. Remember them next time you hit the city roads.
Avoid rush hours
If possible, try to avoid driving at busy times. That’s typically between 7am to 9am, and 4pm to 6pm when most people start and finish work. City traffic is always chaotic, but it can turn into a real-life nightmare during these rush hours. Unless you really have to go out and about, stray away from metropolitan roadways at these times. Of course, if you also have a 9 to 5 to get to, this is probably not an option for you. In this case, the next tips might come in handy.
Know your route
Sometimes, when driving on city streets you might feel like you’re in a maze, especially if you’re an inexperienced driver or if you’re unfamiliar with the places. Yes, road signs are there to help, but you’re only human, so you can easily miss one, get lost and waste a lot of precious time until you find your way. And don’t even get us started on those fancy navigation systems. Apart from the fact that not every car has one, you might lose signal in some areas and then you’re on your own. The smartest thing you can do is plan your route in advance and leave a bit earlier in case you make a mistake.
Keep your eyes on the road
And on your surroundings. Don’t let anything distract you from your driving, whether that’s another passenger, something you’ve seen on the road, your jam that just came on the radio or some deep philosophical thoughts that hit you out of nowhere. Remember that even if you follow all the rules, others might not, so you’ve got to pay attention to what’s happening around you. City traffic can be very unpredictable and you never know when another driver might make a risky move or when a pedestrian might decide to take a shortcut and jump in front of your car. Stay focused if you want to avoid unpleasant events and keep yourself and others safe.
Look for parking
If you think that driving in a city is a major challenge, parking can be even worse. Apart from the fact that you’ve got to pay for parking and many areas have restrictions on how long or when you can park, finding a free spot can also give you a headache. If you’re sick and tired of going around in circles searching for a parking spot, looking for monthly parking options in your area can get you out of trouble. If you’re from Philly for example, you can search for Philadelphia monthly parking, analyze your options and then book a parking spot that checks all your boxes.
Maintain a safe distance
Everyone knows the two-second rule, but not everyone follows it. Don’t be that person who ignores it. Be the one who values safety and plays by the rules. The golden rule is to stay at least two seconds behind the vehicle that’s in front of you at all times, regardless of the speed. The driver in front of you might stop suddenly for whatever reason, and the last thing you want is to bump into him because you were driving too close or have other drivers bump into you. Keep a safe distance, give other drivers room to breathe and you’ll reduce the risk of getting into an accident.
Don’t take unnecessary risks
Speaking of risks, they’re always there when you get on the road. The good news is that your attitude in traffic can really make a difference and considerably reduce them. That’s why you should always embrace a safe driving approach regardless of your circumstances and avoid putting yourself and others at risk unnecessarily. Are you late for work? That’s no reason to step on the gas. Is one of the passengers rushing you or telling you what to do every two seconds? Tune them out and mind your driving. Are other drivers pressuring you to drive faster? Ignore them and stay within the legal speed limit. No matter what’s happening around you, resort to your better judgment and don’t take any risks.
Watch out for cyclists
In many cities you’ll have to share the road with a lot of cyclists. Bicycles are becoming increasingly popular in busy cities as they help people get around easier. Maybe you’re not familiar with this, so you have to adapt your driving skills to the new environment. Try to keep an eye out for cyclists on the road. They can easily sneak between cars and if you’re not careful you might not see them and that can lead to serious accidents. And even if they have to follow the same rules as drivers, some of them choose not to, which means you have to be extra careful and maintain a safe distance from them.
Yes, we know, city driving can drive a saint to madness, but you’ve got to learn to control yourself even in the most stressful and annoying situations. If you lose your calm you’re bound to make mistakes and when you’re on the road even the slightest mistake can have disastrous consequences. The only advice we can give you here is to practice patience. Calm and patience will take you places.