Driving in New York City is exhilarating, awe-inspiring, fear-inducing and nerve-wracking…all at the same time. If you have never driven in the Big Apple, you are in for a treat. However, if you have spent much of your adult life driving in a Podunk town in the middle of nowhere, you might experience a sensory overload of sorts when steering through the streets of New York. Strap in tight and keep your hands at ten and two because this is going to be a wild ride.
The Race is On
Hardly anyone obeys the speed limit in New York. We have places to go and we need to be there now! Not in a couple minutes or half an hour. Now! Time is limited, traffic is heavy and fellow drivers will not hesitate to cut you off at every opportunity. The bottom line is those who drive fast stand a much better chance of making it to their destination on time. You might be asking, “What about speeding tickets?” New York police anticipate most drivers will speed. After all, this is the city that never sleeps.
However, instances of egregious speeding will force police officers to issue a speeding ticket. If you get a ticket in New York City, it is time to take a defensive driving course. This course will help keep your driver’s license in good standing and provide a 10% reduction for three years on your automobile insurance. Perhaps more importantly, you will learn how to drive in a defensive manner to keep you, your vehicle and your vehicle’s occupants as safe as possible.
My Virgin Ears!
Those who have never driven in New York are almost always taken aback by the noise level. Vehicle operators do not hesitate to slam their horns for even the subtlest transgressions. Prepare your ears for an onslaught. Anything from a sudden stop to the failure to use a blinker or alleged tailgating will inspire loud and numerous horn honks. Plenty of New York drivers will take it a step further by rolling down their windows and yelling obscenities toward drivers who rub them the wrong way. You will likely spot several flashings of the bird to boot.
Your Safe Space is Left at Home
To say space is at a premium in New York City is an understatement. Every single inch counts on the streets of New York. Assume fellow drivers will tailgate you from the beginning of your city commute all the way until the end. Don’t veer too far to the sides of the road as there will be a seemingly endless string of vehicles parked along the curbs. If you leave more than a foot between your vehicle and the car ahead of you, expect someone from an adjacent lane to try to cut you off and fill that space.
Turn on Red? Not in NYC!
You are not allowed to turn right at a red light in New York City. However, there are a handful of city lights with signs posted to indicate turning right on red is legal. Unfortunately, these are few and far between.
Share the Road…With Everyone
A large part of the challenge of driving in New York City is the expectation that the limited amount of space on city streets will be shared between normal vehicles, taxicabs, limousines, motorcycle riders, bicyclists and pedestrians. A bicyclist veering into your lane and subsequently swerving to the side of the road is commonplace. Assume that bicyclists will attempt to squeeze between vehicles at red lights to get to the head of the line. Expect the worst, hope for the best and be happy if you make it to your destination on time and without damage.