Rules and Tips for Defensive Driving in a Big City

cars in traffic

For many people, driving in a big city can be a big headache. With countless red lights, stop and go traffic, and pedestrians darting in and out of the street, cruising through a major metropolitan area can be both stressful and dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. For that reason, it is crucial that you practice defensive driving in order to keep yourself, passengers, other motorists, and people on foot safe.

Look Ahead

Traffic patterns and conditions constantly change, especially when driving in a big city where there are numerous variables. To be prepared, always scan the road up ahead of you, and never focus your attention on a single vehicle or the road directly in front of you. Your eyes should always be moving so that you notice what is going on in front of you, on the sides of the road, and behind you. Also, practice anticipating errors made by other drivers, and never assume that another motorist is going to obey traffic laws.

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Maintain Proper Following Distance

When driving in a major city, it is common for cars to stop with little warning. If you tailgate, you will be putting yourself and your passengers in a dangerous situation. For that reason, it is important that you maintain proper following distance. At the very minimum, when conditions are ideal you should leave at least two seconds of space between your car and the vehicle in front of you, although three seconds is better. You can determine your following distance by choosing a fixed object ahead of you and counting to see the time difference it takes for both you and the car in front of you to pass that item.

Keep Your Cool

When you drive in a big city that is congested with traffic, it can be easy to get stressed out. However, it is crucial that you are proactive in keeping a cool head. To avoid road rage, try following a few simple tips:

  • Give yourself enough time to reach your destination early
  • Change your schedule so that you are never on the highway during rush hour or other busy times
  • Listen to relaxing music or an audio book in order to make your vehicle feel more comfortable
  • If you are running late, call ahead rather than trying to rush
  • Be courteous of other drivers, bikers, and pedestrians
  • Focus on your posture when you are diving, and avoid bad habits like clenching your teeth or the steering wheel

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Be on the Lookout for Aggressive Drivers

Just as it is important to ensure that you are not displaying any aggressive driving behaviors, you also need to be diligent about watching the actions of other drivers. An aggressive driver might pass a stopped school bus, operate a vehicle when under the influence of alcohol, or run a red light or stop sign. If you are confronted with an aggressive driver, move away safely, ignore gestures or yelling, and report these individuals to law enforcement.

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Minimize Distractions

While it might be tempting to review your work presentation on your iPad while you are driving into the office, distracted driving is a major cause of accidents. Make sure that you are reducing the amount of distractions that you encounter while you are driving: program your GPS before you start driving, eat before you leave the house, and turn off your cell phone. This way, you can dedicate all of your attention to the road.

Consider Your Position on the Road

When driving in a large city, it is especially important that you can see all other motorists and that they can see you. The best way to position your vehicle is to move along with the flow of traffic – as long as the traffic isn’t going over the speed limit. Never drive in another vehicle’s blind spot, and if you notice someone riding in yours, try to change position. Also, plan ahead to make sure you are in the lane of traffic that will provide you with the smoothest and easiest trip to where you are headed.

Watch for Construction and Road Work

Major cities are notorious for having a ton of road work going on at the most inconvenient times. Always be on the look out for road work signs, flashing lights, and workers in orange or yellow uniforms directing traffic. Not only will you potentially avoid an accident, but you will also avoid some hefty fines – they double in work zones.

car accident can be devastating for everyone involved. The good news is that many accidents are entirely preventable. By practicing defensive driving, you’ll be able to navigate any big city safely.


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