If city driving is something you have to do often or even just once in awhile, you’re going to need some vehicle and driver tips to get through the concrete jungle.
Growing up between Boston and Providence has taught me a thing or two about driving in the city...that I never want to do it again. However, I know not everyone has the same access to public transportation as I do and thus driving in the city may be your only option to get to work or school. The constant stop and go, construction, inattentive pedestrians, and caution to the wind urban drivers make going into the city one of the most stressful experiences around. So if city driving is something you have to do often or even just once in awhile, you’re going to need some tips to get through your concrete jungle adventure.
Tips for your vehicle:
- Choose the right sized vehicle If you don’t already have a vehicle or you’re looking for a new one that will suit your city lifestyle, you'll want to consider space before you buy. One of the most stressful things about driving in a city is finding a parking spot and if you have a large vehicle, this task becomes significantly more difficult. Many spaces are meant for “compact” cars, with both smaller widths and lengths. Owning a smaller vehicle, like a Mini Cooper, will not only allow your to park more easily, but it will also prevent dings and scrapes caused by you or other cars around you. So be sure to review a vehicle’s dimensions before making a commitment.
- Manual or automatic? You may love cruising in your stick shift on your roads back home, but the constant stop and go of city driving will certainly take the fun out of your manual transmission. While driving a manual is less expensive and more fuel efficient, you may want to consider an automatic transmission if you drive in the city often.
- Fuel efficiency Heavy traffic means terrible fuel mileage. The constant stop and go of city driving is a large strain on your miles per gallon (mpg), which is why manufacturers distinguish between city and highway mpg. Do some research on the most fuel efficient vehicles within the past few years so you know what to look for when you go to the dealership. Electric cars save big on gas by switching the engine off when stuck in traffic. If you don’t own an electric car however, you can improve your mpg by going lightly on your accelerator or moving your car into neutral if you're stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Also remember that gas is particularly more expensive in the city, so if you can you should fill up outside city limits.
- Rear parking sensors In addition to great mpg, look for a vehicle with assisting technology like parking sensors. This will allow you to fit into spaces without having to worry about hitting a car, curb, or pedestrian. Parking assist can come as something simple as beeper and rear view cameras or as advanced as parallel autoparking.
- Replace your air filter Cities are filled with smoke and smog so be sure to replace your cabin filter in order to protect yourself and your passengers from inhaling harmful fumes.
- Anti-theft your vehicle Cities have higher crime rates than surrounding suburbs, so be sure to protect your car against thieves. Always park in a well lit area, put all valuables in your trunk before you park, and install anti-theft devices in your vehicle such as a car alarm. Anti-theft devices also unlock auto insurance discounts with many carriers.
- Take advantage of apps From navigation apps to finding the cheapest gas station in your area, apps are here to help! Technology can certainly make your trip less stressful, just be sure to keep your eyes on the road. Check out our recommended lists of apps.
Tips for the driver:
- Don’t assume If you’re a new city driver, don’t assume that other drivers are using as much caution as you are on the roads. Individuals who have been driving in cities for a long time deal with this situation everyday and therefore are less concerned with their surroundings.
- Can you avoid it? If you can, avoid driving in the city during rush hour, 7:00 am to 9:00am and 4:00pm to 6:00pm. You’ll most likely be stuck in traffic which not only wastes your time and gas, but also puts you at risk for an accident. Consider talking public transportation if you have access to it and leave your vehicle at home.
- Don’t give into road rageThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that of all accidents caused by driver error, 33% of these were a direct result of road rage. While city driving is the most stressful kind of driving there is, be sure to keep your cool. Read our tips for staying distraction free on the road.
- Stay in your lane Constantly switching lanes doesn’t really shave any time off of your commute. Not only that, but switching lanes only increases your chance of getting into an accident. If you’re new to a city, be sure to drive slow enough so that you can read signs. Never make a last minute decision to switch lanes to catch an exit or turn. It’s always better to safely retrace your steps than to get into a foolish accident.
- Keep distance from taxis Taxis often make sudden stops or swerves to pick up or drop off customers, so be sure to leave plenty of space between you and the taxi in front of you. Pay close attention to any possible movements they may make.
- Be extra cautious near crosswalks City dwellers often don’t care if the walk signal only has one second left or if it’s on at all. They have places to be too. So make sure you inspect crosswalks when you have the green light for any stragglers attempting to beat the traffic.
- Keep your eye on parked cars Unlike driving on the highway or suburban streets, city drivers should always pay attention to the cars paralleled parked on the side of the road. A parked car could pull out of a spot at any time.
- Be aware of cyclists Always leave plenty of room for cyclists on the roads. Although cyclists are supposed to follow the same traffic rules as drivers, many don’t. Always be aware of their movements. In addition, if you’re paralleled parked, make sure a cyclist isn’t by your car when you open your door.
- Have adequate insurance coverage Between the high traffic and crime rates, owning a vehicle in the city can increase your insurance rates -- and for good reason. You and your vehicle are constantly at risk for collision or theft. So look for an insurance carrier that will be able to provide you with enough coverage to repair or replace your vehicle for a reasonable premium price. You should shop around for car insurance on an online quote comparison site like Insurify.com. Insurify allows you to customize, build, compare, and purchase your policy online in minutes from top carriers. You’ll have the protection you need to cruise in your concrete jungle.