B.A.T.S. Bulletin

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6 Rules of Thumb for City Driving

6 Rules of Thumb for City Driving

Photo by Joey Lu

Cities of all sizes have so much to offer, but let’s face it – driving in a busy city isn’t always the easiest experience. You should always be aware of your surroundings behind the wheel, but driving in the city requires even more focused attention. From rush hour to busy crosswalks and intersections, there are lots of additional factors that can make city driving more difficult. Follow these tips to make it a little easier.

1) Pick a lane
Although it might feel like you’re zooming through traffic, constantly switching doesn’t get you to your destination much faster and greatly increases your chances of getting into an accident. Just like driving on the highway, staying in the right lane unless you need to turn or pass will ensure that you stay in the company of slower, more cautious drivers.

2) Watch for pedestrians
This might be an obvious suggestion, but there are a lot more opportunities for a run-in with pedestrians while driving through a populous city. Parallel parking will often be available on both sides of the road – watch out for people getting in and out of their cars. Most importantly, watch for pedestrians crossing the road, especially those trying to beat a “don’t walk” signal.

3) Prepare to pay
One unfortunate, but necessary part of visiting a city is paying for parking. The easiest solution is usually a paid-lot or parking garage, so do some research beforehand to find one close to your destination. If you’re going to use a space that requires payment with a meter, be aware of time limits and day restrictions.

4) Use navigation
The less you have to look down at a device for directions, the better. If your car has a GPS, program your location before you start driving. If you need to use a smartphone, mount it to your dashboard instead of holding it. Better yet, look up the directions before you leave or have a passenger guide you.

5) Protect your car
There’s no need to be afraid cities, but you should always be smart and cautious about where you leave your vehicle. Don’t leave any valuables or loose change in sight. Place any bags or backpacks in the trunk (if you don’t have a trunk, cover them with jackets or blankets). Try to park in well lit, populous areas.

6) Mind your mileage
There’s a reason that car companies separate highway MPG from city MPG. Constantly accelerating and braking uses a lot more gas, so don’t make it worse by speeding up to a red light! Go lightly on the gas pedal and coast whenever possible. Gas can be expensive in cities too, so fuel up before you get there.