Do You Dare Drive in NYC? Here Are Top Tips for Driving Safely in Busy New York City
The Big Apple, New York, is a fantastic city full of rich sights, wonderful people and a network of busy roads. While we could talk for days about why New York is awesome or why you should visit New York City on your next trip to America, we thought it’d be far more useful to offer you our top tips for driving in the New York City. In a city full of taxis and bustling roads, it’s far easier to take public transport or even walk, but there are several reasons people choose to drive here. Maybe you’re doing a road trip around the country; perhaps you’re putting on the Ritz and have a tour bus full of theatre equipment and strong mechanical handling equipment to lift your lights into place; possibly you just really, really like driving. Either way, it’s your decision and you’ve decided to drive, so let’s look at the essential things you need to know to drive successfully in New York City.
New York, New York, it’s a helluva town – so relax and enjoy the drive. Most tourists in New York are advised to take the subway or jump in a taxi, but if you’ve chosen to drive, own it and enjoy the ride. New York is busy, just like any city, but don’t be intimidated by the volume of cars on the road. Relax, and drive as you normally would in any big city. You’ll be more relaxed if you plan your route in advance and use a GPS. New York has many one way streets, so a GPS will help you navigate the best routes.
- Watch out for taxis
Unlike London’s black cabs, New York’s taxis are stunningly easy to spot. This is great because most taxi drivers have no qualms whatsoever about cutting across 3 lanes of traffic to pick up a fare. Taxis are everywhere in New York – at any given moment there’s probably one in your blind spot because that’s just how New York works. Just remember that they want to be in an accident about as much as you do, and by and large they’re pretty aware of their surroundings. Just give them a wide berth, whether they’re parked or not.
Speaking of parking, tickets happen all the time. If you can find a parking spot without a meter, fantastic, you’ve hit the lottery! If not, make sure you check every sign on the block to see whether or not you’re about to get a parking ticket for parking in a restricted spot. Fortunately, most of the old quarter parking meters have been replaced by meters which accept credit cards and dollar coins. These are way more convenient than the old meters, and mean that you have no excuse for not paying your parking. If you park illegally, you will almost always get ticketed and perhaps towed, so don’t risk it. There are plenty of parking lots in the city, so it’s most convenient to park off-street.
Also, make sure you stay at least 15 feet away from fire hydrants when you park up or you will get ticketed/towed. If you’re genuinely struggling to find a parking spot in New York, there are dedicated websites which will help you find somewhere to park your car for a while.
- On that note, remember where you parked your car
Drop a pin in Google Maps whenever you park your car. New York is a big place and you will forget where you left your car, especially if you’re new to the city. When you get out the car drop a pin and take a photo of the surroundings. Genius right? We know – you can thank us later.
- Know when rush hour is
Like any city, driving during rush hour is not for the faint-hearted. Manhattan grinds to a slow crawl every day from 7-9am and 4:30-7pm, and Saturday nights are just the worst. If you can avoid travelling at these times, do it. Remember that New York doesn’t run on roundabouts either – intersections are busy as a result, and blocking the box is one of the worst sins a driver in New York can commit.
- Seriously, don’t honk your horn at traffic
We say one of the worst because there is nothing worse than that one person honking their horn at traffic because they have somewhere to be which is more important than wherever you need to be. Don’t be that person. Don’t honk your horn on traffic unless you want all of New York to hate you.
- Know your left from your right, your east from your west
Pro tip: streets in New York are either even numbered or odd numbered. OK, everyone probably knew that already, but did you know that even numbers go east and odd numbers go west? While there are a few exceptions to that rule, keeping this in mind as you travel about the city will help you get your bearings quicker and easier than you’d think.
- Pedestrians have right of way
This is important – don’t assume that because you have a car you have right of way. There are no laws against jaywalking in New York, and people can pop out from between parked cars just about anywhere. Most people tend to stick to the crosswalks but don’t expect everyone to do this. Be vigilant and watch out for pedestrians.
- Red means stop
You may have heard about America’s Right on Red rule. In the words (or word) of a true New Yorker, fuggedaboudit. There’s no Right on Red in New York – red means stop, green means go.
With these things in mind, you should have no problems at all driving around New York City. Just remember to relax and enjoy yourself and your drive should be a breeze.