Here are some tips to help you drive safely around the Big Apple.
Driving in New York City can be a daunting task, especially for those not accustomed to the hustle and bustle of a big city. With so many cars, pedestrians, bikes, and public transportation crowded into a dense urban area, it’s important to be alert and follow safe driving practices.
According to data from 2021, there were nearly 97,000 car accidents across all five boroughs of NYC, which comes out to about 265 accidents per day. More than half of these accidents occurred in Queens and Brooklyn. It’s crucial to drive cautiously in the city to avoid becoming part of these troubling statistics. Here are some tips to help you drive safely around the Big Apple.
Know the rules of the road
Familiarize yourself with NYC’s traffic laws before getting behind the wheel. For example, cell phone use while driving is illegal in New York unless it’s hands-free. The speed limit is 30mph or less on most streets in the city unless otherwise posted. Be mindful of one-way streets, blocked-off roads, temporary construction routes, and other changing conditions. Obey all traffic signals, signs, and lane markings.
Practice defensive driving techniques like being aware of your surroundings, anticipating other drivers’ moves, and driving slowly and cautiously instead of aggressively. Give other cars, bikes, and pedestrians plenty of space. Be prepared to brake suddenly. Remember that pedestrians nearly always have the right of way.
Distracted driving can be cited as a cause in 80% of accidents in NYC. Avoid using your cellphone, eating, adjusting music controls, or engaging in other activities that take your eyes and focus off the road. Traveling with restless passengers can also be distracting. Pull over safely if you need to handle any issues so you can concentrate fully on driving.
Stick to familiar areas
Driving in unfamiliar parts of NYC can lead to getting turned around or lost. Stick to routes you know well when first driving in the city until you become more comfortable navigating the various neighborhoods and traffic patterns. Avoid complex intersections and stick to main thoroughfares when possible.
Watch for pedestrians and cyclists
NYC has thousands of pedestrians and cyclists, so keep an eye out for them at crosswalks, street corners, bike lanes, and parking spots. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and watch for cyclists and delivery drivers crisscrossing lanes. Drive slowly near parks and schools. Leave at least 3 feet between your vehicle and any cyclists.
What to do after an accident
Even defensive drivers practicing safe habits can end up in accidents. Of the 97,000 car accidents quoted earlier, 46,995 resulted in injury and 236 were fatal. If you’re involved in a collision, remain at the scene and call 911 to report the incident. Exchange insurance and contact details with the other driver involved. Take photos of damage and injuries at the scene. File a crash report with the DMV within 10 days. Seek medical help even for minor injuries, which can worsen over time. Lastly, you will need to get in touch with an experienced car accident lawyer.
Driving safely takes effort and experience navigating NYC’s crowded streets. Allow extra time for travel and remain alert to prevent issues. But even seasoned city drivers can wind up in crashes now and then. Follow proper protocol after accidents to protect yourself and ensure the incident is properly documented for insurance and liability purposes. With caution and care, you can manage the challenges of driving in America’s biggest city.