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Hey! I’m Drivin’ here! – How to Drive in New York City like a Native

Just the prospect of driving in Manhattan can draw beads of sweat from the brow. The jammed-up traffic where you don’t budge for what seems like days. Jaywalkers who spring out in front of vehicles with utter disregard for traffic signals. The endless construction that backs up cars for miles, converting four lanes into one. City vehicles that bring traffic to a stop or appear out of nowhere behind you, forcing you to make sudden decisions.

Driving in the Big Apple is not for the faint of heart, but millions of people do it. You can, too, with a little sage advice.

Watch for Pedestrians

Pedestrian injury and death continues to climb. You’d think they’d learn, except that – oh, yeah – they’re dead. New York is famous for the foot traffic taking vehicle traffic not seriously enough. Cross walk signals are just for advice and are not given the weight of law.

You need to be extra wary of pedestrians. Because jaywalking is so common, any hesitation on your part as a driver signals to the pedestrian that you might be slowing down to let him cross. Make eye contact with the potential jaywalker and let him know you see him, but don’t brake unless you actually do want to let him run across in front of you. He’ll take the opportunity if you do.

Keep Calm around Government Vehicles

Every city needs vehicles to manage sewer, street repairs, water and gas mains, and garbage. They have to deal with the same traffic you do, except they don’t have the option of taking a taxi or the subway. In the course of their duties, they may block traffic. Suck it up and let them do their job. Unless you want to collect the garbage instead.

A surprising number of ambulances are involved in collisions every year. If there is an ambulance approaching from behind, move as far over to the right as you can. If you are at a red light, pull slowly into the intersection in order to pull to the right, avoiding other traffic.

Taxis

New York cabbies can be difficult, especially if you’re an out-of-towner driving a used Dodge Durango in New York with Oklahoma license plates. They stop suddenly to pick up fares without even pulling over. They dart in and out of traffic. They’re always in a hurry. Don’t mess with them. Getting people to places in a hurry is their job.

Buses

Tour buses and city buses alike can slow traffic. They move slowly, stop to pick up people, and take two lanes to make a turn. There is a temptation to take risks in order to get around them, but don’t do it. Buses mean pedestrians as well as people getting on and off that you can’t see.

No Right on Red

Unlike most other states, you cannot turn right on red in New York, unless a sign says it’s okay. A ticket will cost you between $100 and $300.

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