Reader, before we dive into the nine don’ts of driving in NYC, I’m going to be transparent with you: I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve personally been behind the wheel of a car. But before you click away: hear me out. I’ve had years of experience as an active backseat and passenger seat driver, for what that’s worth. Plus I’ve consulted two long-time NYC drivers for this article. So the information you’re about to receive is reliable. Now, if you’re a person who is scared to drive in NYC, without further ado, here are the nine things you shouldn’t do when driving in NYC.
For real, if you can help it, don’t drive in New York City, especially if you’re scared to drive in NYC. Trust me, you don’t need the stress. Between the traffic and the storage, driving here is an exercise in futility and frustration. Besides, who needs a car when you can use the subway? BUT there is one major caveat to this. It is actually helpful to have a car if you plan on exploring the outer boroughs. Unlike in Manhattan, the subway system doesn’t reach all the nooks and crannies of the other boroughs and the buses aren’t as efficient as they should be.
2. Don’t let pedestrians and cyclists surprise you.
For people who aren’t armored by a two-ton hunk of metal, pedestrians and cyclists sure are daredevils. Whether it’s jaywalking, crossing against the light, or weaving in between traffic, New York’s pedestrians and cyclists will do it. Prepare your mind to be ready for anything and make sure your brakes are in working order.
3. Don’t give into the hype.
Some New Yorkers are impatient and will honk at you the millisecond the light turns green. Don’t mind them. Be safe and take your time.
4. Don’t be too timid.
This may sound contradictory to my previous point about not paying mind to impatient drivers. But even though safety should be your top priority, you also shouldn’t act like you’re driving Miss Daisy. If you want to make it to your destination within a reasonable amount of time, you’re going to have to be a little aggressive. So go ahead and make that U-turn in the middle of two lanes of traffic, force other drivers to let you merge, and don’t be too polite about snatching up parking.
5. Don’t be surprised if you have to park blocks away from your destination.
On-street parking in most cases is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. This is especially true in Manhattan, where your chances of finding parking is comparable to your chances of winning the lottery.
6. Don’t tempt the meter maid.
NYC’s traffic cops love nothing better than issuing you a ticket. Before you leave your car on the side of the road, make sure to check the street signs for any parking quirks like alternate side parking times or no standing zones. And don’t forget to put the parking meter slip on your dashboard!
7. Don’t turn right on red.
Unless there is a sign stating otherwise, you cannot make a right turn at a red light. There are too many pedestrians and too much traffic to make that a viable thing here.
8. Don’t block the box.
You want to piss off everyone in a mile radius and cause a traffic jam? Stick your car in the middle of the intersection behind a full row of cars. If you choose to be the overly impatient ass**** who does this, be prepared to receive a cacophony of honking from others drivers, plus glares from pedestrians. Yes, we’re ALL judging you.
9. Don’t use your horn.
Just kidding. Although it’s actually illegal to honk your horn in NYC (punishable with a $350 fine), that law isn’t enforced. Heck, honking is like a second language for NYC drivers. Take a drive during rush hour and you’ll certainly become fluent.
I hope these tips will help you be less scared to drive in NYC. If you’ve already been behind the wheel in New York, please share your experience! What advice would you give to people driving in the city for the first time?
Also, if you want to get to know NYC even better with Shiloh in the City, don’t forget to sign up for my email list and follow me on social media. Thanks for reading!