City driving tips

On the Road 3 min read

Driving in urban areas can be more challenging and stressful than driving in suburban or rural areas. We’ve curated some city driving tips for you, whether you’re navigating streets downtown or rolling down the highways. Extra patience and awareness will always serve you well. Be ready for the unexpected, and don’t panic if you miss a turn. There’s always more than one way to get to where you’re going in the city.

How to drive in the city

When driving in the city streets and nearby highways, consider these tips to make the experience as easy as possible:

  • Use navigation apps: They’re free and easy, frequently updated, and automatically reroute you if you miss a turn.
  • Give yourself extra time: Aside from traffic making a commute longer than you expect, you’re bound to be calmer if your arrival time isn’t an immediate concern.
  • Always utilize turn signals: Unpredictability is a city-driving stressor. Letting other drivers know your intentions makes everyone’s lives that much easier.
  • Be a nice person: Rather than driving aggressively, give people the courtesy you’d hope to receive yourself.

Tips for driving in the city and driving on city highways

Cover the brakes

Covering the brake means keeping your foot hovering over the pedal, ready to engage as needed. Don’t ride the brake, which means applying slight pressure to the pedal, triggering your brake lights.

Watch pedestrians at intersections

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), focusing on pedestrians isn’t just about making sure you keep them safe. Their actions at crosswalks, especially with blinking crossing indicators, can alert you to upcoming traffic light changes further in advance.

Watch parked cars and driveways carefully

People getting in and out of parked vehicles may not always pay attention to passing traffic. And in crowded city streets, it’s harder to make turns out of driveways, where obstacles can block their view.

Avoid distracted driving

The NHTSA reports that distracted driving claimed more than 3,142 lives in 2020. Any activity that diverts your attention from the task of driving is distracted driving. Examples include texting or talking on the phone, eating, applying makeup, shaving, and rubbernecking. There is so much to see in the city but taking your eyes off the road even briefly can greatly increase your risk of crashing.

Keep as much space as possible between cars

Keeping a safe driving distance isn’t always possible in stop-and-go traffic. But when traffic is flowing, leaving space between you and the car ahead gives you time to react to sudden traffic speed changes.

Stay to the right

Unless you’ve got dozens of miles to go before your next exit, stay to the right and go a bit slower and more carefully and get off the highway more easily when you need to.

Look past the car in front of you

The car immediately in front of you that’s braking is the last warning you’ll get about your own need to brake. If you can see the cars beyond the one directly in front of you, you’ll have a little more time to make your driving decisions.

Steer clear of aggressive drivers

When driving in the city, you may encounter tailgaters or other forms of aggressive driving. Tailgating occurs when the driver behind you drives too closely trying to force you to either speed up or change lanes. To be safe, you can allow them to pass you as soon as you are able to do so safely. Learn more about how to deal with tailgaters on the road.

Driving in the city can be challenging when you are a beginner, but with practice your skill at driving on city streets will improve. Roundabouts can be another puzzling road feature of city driving if you’re not used to them. Learn more about navigating roundabouts to help you improve your city driving skills. Overall, if you can remain calm, be courteous, and follow these city driving tips to they will help you navigate city streets and traffic with confidence.

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