There is a lot going on in any big city 24 hours a day. This can be intimidating if you’re not used to it, especially when you’re behind the wheel on unfamiliar streets. There may be cabs zooming in and out of traffic, lots of honking, and pedestrians all over the place, and you can forget about being able to make a left turn at a green light or finding a parking spot.
Driving in the city can be an overwhelming experience, but the following tips will help make it a lot easier. Once you’ve overcome your fear of driving in the city you’ll find it a lot easier to visit and you’ll be able to enjoy more of what the city has to offer.
5 Tips For Big City Driving
No amount of rural and highway driving will prepare you for driving in the city if you’ve never done it before. If you’re coming from a smaller town or city and planning to do a lot of urban driving, take the time to consider the sorts of challenges you might face and mentally prepare yourself for them.
Big cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit are full of narrow lanes, complex traffic patterns, and unbelievable amounts of traffic. The drivers range from the experienced and aggressive local to the lost and confused tourist, and you need to watch out for all of them.
Here are a few tips for keeping you and your family safe as you explore:
Don’t Navigate on Your Own
As soon as you get into the city, you may be confronted by confusing exits and turn lanes, where a second of confusion or delayed reaction time could mean taking the wrong ramp and going miles out of your way before you can turn around and get back on track. It’s going to be hard to stay on track if you have to look down at your phone for every turn.
Ideally, you’ll have someone with you in the car that can take charge of navigating. That way they can look ahead while you focus on the road. Otherwise, be sure to set your phone or car’s GPS to provide turn-by-turn directions out loud.
Stay Alert and Look Forward
The biggest problem on city streets is the many moving hazards. You need to be awake and alert at all times because you never know when a car or a pedestrian will appear right in front of you. Cars can come out of nearly any alley or garage, so you need to be watching out for them, even when there’s no cross street.
Get Help Finding Parking
There are few things more stressful than trying to find parking in the middle of traffic on a crowded city block. If you’re not comfortable trying to park on the street, there is always likely to be a garage somewhere nearby.
If you’re looking for an easy solution, there are many smartphone applications that help with parking as well. Not only will parking apps find you a spot for your car, but they may even give you a discount.
Watch the Calendar
Traffic in larger cities can vary widely depending on the time of day and other events going on in the area. Do yourself a favor and check for unusual traffic patterns before you hit the road.
Checking event calendars in the city will help you avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic that comes with major sports events and conventions. Use your GPS to find a way around these special events.
Keep Your Cool
If you forget every other piece of advice and only remember one thing, remember to stay calm. It’s easy to start to panic and get anxious when drivers are rushing and honking around you and every intersection is like a puzzle. The best way to stay safe is to keep a cool head. Feel free to pull over and take a deep breath if it gets to be too much.
If the Worst Should Happen
For most people who are afraid to drive in a big city, the number-one fear is the fear of getting hurt in an accident. The good news is your fears may be at least partially unfounded. Accidents can and do happen, but you are at no greater risk of getting in a wreck in the city than you are in the country.
According to one study conducted by the University of Minnesota, fewer people die from car accidents in cities than they do in rural areas. The statistics are on your side. Practice defensive driving and stay alert, and chances are your day in the city will go off without a hitch.
If you do end up on the unlucky side of the numbers and you weren’t the at-fault driver, you may need an attorney for a car accident. You may be able to get a settlement or win an award in court. Why is this important? If you are injured, you’re going to have expenses. Justice is on your side.
These cases are worth pursuing because they can take the burden off of you while you recover. It’s worth facing your fear and taking that trip into the city, whether it’s for business or pleasure. Don’t let your fears keep you from experiences that may better your life.