Many people find driving a very enjoyable activity and look for any reason to get their car out on the road. However, when you’re driving in a large city, this might come with a range of challenges that make it more dreadful than pleasant.
In large cities, traffic will always be heavier, and there is no way you won’t find yourself driving straight into a bottleneck of cars at least once a day. And, when you factor in challenges such as one-way streets, pedestrians that keep popping out from behind other cars, and cyclists that always happen to be in your blind spot, it gets quite difficult to maintain your composure while behind the wheel.
Truth be told, city driving can turn out to be a nerve-wracking experience if you are not used to it, and it’s even more so when you have very little driving practice under your belt. Still, there are some things you can do to turn this type of journey into a less stressful one.
To help you tackle city traffic without losing your sanity, we have put together this list of tips that make the experience safer and more bearable.
Keep your focus on the road
When you are sitting in traffic for tens of minutes, it can get quite easy to become distracted. “Maybe I have time to answer this text, scroll a bit on Instagram, or dive into that burger that’s been sitting next to me” – you tell yourself as you look at the never-ending line of cars that’s in front of you. But if you fall prey to distractions and you are not focused on what’s happening around you, you risk putting yourself and others in danger even while in line at a traffic light.
Your brain is usually trained to multitask, but you have no idea how easy it is to slightly lift your foot off the brake pedal while reading a text, just enough to launch you straight into the car in front of you.
If you keep your eyes on the road at all times, you will also be able to spot potential hazards and even prevent some. Besides cars, pedestrians are also notorious for cutting through traffic to crossroads, so you need to stay alert at all costs.
Secure a good parking spot
Yes, we know, parking is not driving, but it is just as important when you live in a big city. While it may be an annoying task, it is always best that you check for parking spots before going to an area you know is crowded or you have not visited before. That’s because free parking spots are starting to become rarer as cities look to reduce congestion and generate revenue.
Apps such as WhereIPark can be time-saving in situations such as this. You can check for available parking spots and rent one on a long term basis. This way, you will never have to worry about finding a parking spot again!
Don’t cut lanes
If you are approaching an intersection and the traffic is heavy, chances are you won’t be able to cut the lane if you don’t do it in advance. You may be lucky enough to encounter a driver that is nice enough to let you pass, but this rarely happens during busy traffic. After all, we’ve all got places to go and things to do, so no one is responsible for letting you cut traffic just because you are in a rush.
To avoid finding yourself in the wrong lane just before an intersection, you need to choose your lane in advance and safely switch to it. If you happen to be in the wrong lane, the safest thing to do is continue moving this way until you find a suitable place to get back on your route. Otherwise, you may stall the traffic or cause even more issues.
Avoid driving during rush hour
If you work a 9 to 5 job, avoiding rush hour can seem impossible. But if you are just driving around running errands, you may not want to do so during the busiest hours of the day. Try to schedule your tasks so that you can do them in-between the busiest hours of the day to avoid wasting your time waiting in never-ending lines at every intersection.
If you also want to avoid rush hours while working a traditional office job, consider planning your day in a way so that you can change your driving schedule. Maybe you can, for example, do your grocery shopping at a place that is close to your office so that you have a way to kill time while waiting for rush hour to pass.
Keep away from bicycle lanes
Most big cities have bicycle lanes that are specially designed for cyclists, so you may want to avoid using them to cut traffic. Cyclists are, in theory, supposed to follow the same traffic rules as cars, but we all know that rarely happens and what’s best for you is to avoid cutting into these lanes altogether.
Always keep an eye out for cyclists on the road even if there is no bicycle lane nearby. If you encounter a cyclist, try to keep a distance for both your safety and theirs and remember to never steer your car towards the bicycle lane, especially when there is a lot of traffic ahead.
Whether you’re visiting a large urban city for vacation or need to get to an appointment, navigating urban streets requires heightened awareness and the capacity to remain calm despite the chaos an urban city may bring. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel at all times!