City Driving: 5 Tips for Drivers

An in-depth guide on city driving for nervous drivers. City Driving: 5 Tips for Drivers

There are some of you who may look at this and think to themselves that you already know how to drive in the city.  You probably live in a decent size city, so what could you possibly learn?  There are others that live out in the country, as some would call it, others that live in rural areas.  Many of you who live in those type of places may not drive too often in cities or bigger cities.  Wherever you may live, we are going to explore some simple tips to help you in the bigger cities for driving.

Get a Car That Fits

Compact Car – When you go into the bigger cities, sometimes smaller is better.  What we mean, is that if you go into a busy city with one way, meters, parallel parking, and extremely busy streets, having a smaller more compact car would be better for you.  This will make parking easier, prevent your car from getting scratched, and easier to maneuver.  Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the city can get so busy that you need to make quick turns into tight spaces, or even parking on the streets will be smaller areas.  Having a compact car will allow for these a lot better than a bigger vehicle.

Automatic Transmission – If your traveling into an area that has a lot of stops, or hills, you might want to stick with an automatic transmission.  Frequent stops or hills can be challenging for anyone with a manual car, and people behind you in those bigger cities don’t assume that you will be driving a manual and pull right up behind you.  In these cases, when you know that the car has the potential to roll when getting going or even being at a stoplight, and it takes longer to get to up to speed, it can make it even more stressful for yourself.

Parking Assist – Everyone hates the sound of the bigger vehicles in reverse, however, it does let everyone know around it, that it is backing up.  They do make these available in some vehicles right now which will give you an advantage to backing up, as well as having a backup camera.  Some of these systems are built into vehicles, but you can purchase on your own and install.  Back up cameras will help you get into the right spot as well as making sure when you are too close to something behind you.  In fact, it could save someone’s life if they step off the sidewalk not realizing your backing up, so you will be able to see them and stop.

Miles per Gallon – Driving in the city will take a toll on your MPG, and so therefore if you live in the city or are thinking of driving every day into one of the major cities, make sure you buy a car that gets good MPG in the city.  Don’t speed up to later just slow down again.  Go slower if you are going to have to make frequent stops instead of riding your break.  Also make sure you have enough fuel on board, because finding a gas station that is cheap in the city are going to be hard to find.

Crime Resistant – If possible don’t carry a lot of valuables with you or in plain sight within your vehicles.  try to put all your stuff in the trunk of your vehicle before you even park the car.  you don’t want someone to see you doing this, because the chances of you getting broken into are increased in the bigger cities.  Try to make sure that you have a security system in the vehicle so that an alarm will sound, as well as something that may not make your steering wheel available to drive.  Stay in areas well lit and has a lot of people neer by when you do park, so that when you are returning to your vehicle, you can be seen by everyone or even a camera to help deter people from robbing you on your way to your car or it getting broken into.

Plan Your Route

Navigational aides – GPS or Google Maps can be very useful for any situation.  If you are going into a new city that you have never been in, this will be a very useful aid.  This will tell you where you are going with a rough estimate of how long it will take you to get to your destination.  Always allow yourself enough time for mistakes, because when going somewhere, even though GPS or maps gives you how far it is before you need to turn or exit a ramp, when your driving, you might miss your turn or take the wrong ramp.  Sometimes when making corrections you can become even more confused and will need extra time to get back on track.

Pick a lane and stick to it – If you know where you are going and what side of the street you need to be on, stick to it.  Making last-minute changes in the bigger cities to get to your turn or exit can be very difficult to maneuver.  Some people are in a hurry and won’t care if you need to move over and may not let you.  Also, parking on the street in most cities can be daunting, so making sure you are in the correct lane will make this easier.

Narrow roads or One way – In some of the bigger older cities, roads were not built with tons of traffic in mind.  So some of these streets could be smaller in size, making bigger cars take up the majority of the lane and not give you the wiggle room you need if something happens.  One way streets are popular in bigger cities so that there is parking available, but at the same time, you are going to want to make sure you know where they are and if it is something you will be driving down.  One way roads can make getting to where you need to go difficult, so make sure you know where you will be traveling as mentioned before.

Traffic Tips

Rush Hour – Try to pick a time when the streets are not going to be as busy.  Most times that are extremely busy will be first thing in the morning, lunch hour, and end of the day.  Everyone is going to be in a hurry to get to work, take their short lunch, or getting home.  If you can avoid these times, this will help you get to your destination quicker, and the possibility of you getting stuck in traffic will be lowered.

Mind the Gap – What this means, is you are in control of the space around you.  If you are following too close to someone and they hit their brakes you could ram into them. This will also help you avoid a chain reaction if someone is riding to close behind you.  If you brake suddenly, you could get rear-ended as well, and this could cause a situation where more cars are involved.  Around you, people could be opening their doors if they are parked on the street without notice, or right next to you.  Making sure you have enough room around you at all times, ensures that you will have more reaction time as well as possibly avoiding bad situations.

Peep and Creep – This will come in handy because, in bigger cities where there is parking on the street, you sometime can’t see around a corner.  Taking your time and slowly creeping up and looking will help you avoid unnecessary collisions. This also allows other coming upon you to possibly let you into a busy street with more ease.

Approach with Caution – Locals in the city will know what roads to avoid whereas you might not.  In the bigger cities, sometimes construction work and their vehicle can be in the way, so make sure you approach any of these areas cautiously.  Take your time and you will get around the situation without incident.  If you come upon a work vehicle, make sure you keep enough distance between you in case it decides to stop suddenly or turn on their lights.


Pedestrians – Remember people are not always watching what they are doing or who is around them.  People in a crosswalk have the right of way, so you may come across more people walking in these bigger cities than you are used to.

Bicyclists – In larger cities, biking is a popular form of transportation, and even though they should be obeying the same traffic laws as a driver, we all know they don’t.  How many times have you come to an intersection, and the biker does not even stop because all they do is look to see if someone is coming and think they can make it?  We see it all the time, or they don’t use the proper hand signals and make a turn suddenly in front of you.  Also in some cities, you will find bike lanes, and in those cases, you need to make sure that you are watching for them and where you can park or turn.  The painted lines on the streets will help you determine these areas.

Taxis and Buses – In the bigger cities, there are taxi cabs and these cases, they will do lots of pulling suddenly over and stopping possibly right in front of you if they were being haled.  All they care about is the fare, and not necessarily what is happening around them.  City buses will make frequent stops to pick people up, and sometimes thee are right next to a stoplight, and some will forget to put on their fourways.  When approaching an intersection and the bus is stopped picking up passengers, make sure that they will not be moving soon and go through the intersections as your trying to make your turn in front of the bus.  A lot of times you will see accidents where the bus started to pull away from the curb and a vehicle tried to go around and get hits.

Animals – Sometimes in the bigger cities, you are going to see more people walking their animals, and they can get loose and run off on its person.  You will see more stray animals running around on the streets.  Make sure if you do see an animal you take your time and be mindful of where it possibly could be going.


Remain Calm – When driving in bigger cities, there are going to be a lot of drivers that are going to cut you off or get too close.  you will need to be prepared for these situations to happen and try to remain calm.  Getting stressed while you are driving is not going to help you get somewhere quicker or easier, it is just going to make you madder.

Road Rage – Try not to stoop to other’s levels, if someone cusses at you because you are taking your time, ignore them.  Getting back at them or following them will just cause issues in the long run.  The driver could follow you closer, or cut you off and make your driving experience all that much worse.  All too many times, we hear how someone got road rage and cause a horrible accident because their focus was on the issue rather than the road.  Also, you never know in the bigger cities if they have a weapon on them, and that could go horribly wrong.

In the end, you are in control, and making sure you have the right sense of where you are and where you are going is going to be the key.  Many of us spend way too much time worrying about how long it will take us and rather tend to speed our way through life and on the road.  Being prepared and taking your time will make that much easier on yourself and others around you.  Being alert on the roadways can be a lifesaver, instead of you becoming another statics.


  1. Telegraph Co UK – Tips for driving in the city
  2. Edmunds – Top 10 Tips for city driving
  3. Driving Tests – 9 Important tips to survive city driving
  4. USA Tourist – Driving tips