Are you thinking about driving in New York City? You are courageous! Navigating the city’s congested streets necessitates some serious driving skills. But if you’re determined, here are some survival tips for driving safely in New York City.
Driving in NYC, particularly in Manhattan, has a bad reputation, and most locals and tourists prefer to take the subway or a taxi. However, driving a car is sometimes unavoidable for a variety of reasons, such as a special occasion, a business or family trip, and so on. Follow the tips in this section to learn how to deal with the challenges of driving in Manhattan, New York City.
Drinking & Driving
First and most important, never drive while under the influence of any alcohol, especially while in New York. The city has recently stepped up its penalties for DWI, so it may even be a good idea not to have that ‘one glass of wine’.
Turning Right on Red
The next thing to note is very important, but probably something that you would not expect; you are not allowed to turn right on a red light while in NYC. This is true for all intersections unless stated otherwise.
The city’s speed limit is 30 miles per hour, which may appear ridiculously slow, but it is for good reason. Besides, with all the traffic, you’re unlikely to get a chance to go much faster.
Traffic rush hours in New York City, particularly in Manhattan, occur every morning between 7 and 9, and in the afternoon between 4 and 7, particularly near bridges and tunnels. Saturday night traffic becomes more congested, so either use alternative routes or take a deep breath… Getting stuck in the middle of a crossing when the light changes and everyone around you is honking is a bad situation that you should try to avoid. If this occurs and you are unable to escape, simply wait for the light to change again and rescue you.
It is very important that you do not contribute to gridlock while driving in the city; the locals will not take kindly to this. This means that you should not proceed into an intersection unless you are confident that you will be able to make it all the way through. Believe it or not, this is illegal and you can be fined for “locking the block”, and not to mention the fact that you will have to deal with the extremely irritated other drivers.
Parking in New York City can be time-consuming and costly. Although there are many free street parking spaces in Manhattan, they are usually occupied, so plan on paying the meter. NYC’s new muni-meters now accept dollar coins and credit cards (in addition to quarters), but don’t forget to leave the receipt on your car or rental car window – NYC parking enforcement is strict. There are many parking garages in NYC with varying price ranges, and it is recommended to check rates and deals using websites and apps such as Icon and NYC Best Parking.
If you happen to get towed while in New York, the best way to get your car back is to call the local police station, they can then direct you to the Department of Transportation. Most cars are taken to a warehouse on the west side of Manhattan.
To prevent car theft, never leave anything visible in the car, and make sure that if you are putting things in the trunk, that you do so before you park, as you never know who is watching. If something is valuable to you and you want to make sure that it doesn’t get stolen, the best is just to take it with you.
Make sure not to honk unless absolutely necessary, as some areas, for example, the Holland Tunnel entrance, do not allow the use of a horn, and you can be fined $100 for violating. This is also common in areas where there are a large number of residences.
And finally, never open your window to strangers; ignore anyone that comes up to your car either to wash the windows, ask for money, or try to sell you something, as having an open window makes you a very vulnerable target.
Most people will tell you that walking around New York City or taking public transportation is the best way to see it. This is due to the fact that the roads are extremely congested, and driving can take a long time.
Nonetheless, for some, driving is still the preferred, or even the only, option, particularly in this age of social distancing. Furthermore, it is something that some people want to do in order to truly understand what this magnificent city is all about. So, if you decide to visit New York City and drive, here are some things you should know.