How to Safely Drive in Downtown this Summer

May 26, 2014


With the warmer weather, sunny days and long weekends, summer is the perfect season to take time off of work and go exploring. A lot of people like to visit downtown during their summer trips. There’s a lot to do downtown, but there’s also a lot of people… and a lot of cars.

If you don’t frequently drive downtown, you might not be familiar with downtown driving and you might find it difficult. There are a number of aspects to driving downtown that are different from driving in less densely populated areas. These aspects can make driving difficult, but they don’t have to.

Here are a few tips for safely driving around downtown this summer.

Watch for Pedestrians

There are a lot of people downtown and they could dart out in front of your car without much notice. Always keep an eye out for pedestrians and be prepared to stop – and not just at intersections. Jaywalking may be against the law, but it happens frequently. Stay alert.

Share the Road with Cyclists

You won’t just encounter other cars on downtown streets, you’ll also find yourself sharing the road with cyclists. Look out for bike traffic and be extra careful when driving near cyclists. This is true whether or not the road you are driving on has a dedicated bike lane. People on bikes may encounter debris or road damage that could require them to make sudden movements, so look out. A bike could dart out in front of your car at any moment.

It’s also important that you don’t follow cyclists too closely and that you use caution when passing them.

Plan your Trip Ahead

Know your road map. It can be difficult to look at a GPS while driving on busy downtown streets, so it helps to know where you’re going before you head out. You’ll also want to pay attention to where and when construction and road closures are taking place. A lot of construction happens during the summer and, without proper planning, you might find yourself stuck in some terrible construction-related traffic. Plus, most downtown areas have several events taking place throughout the summer, which often results in road closures. If you don’t plan ahead, you could end up unable to get to where you’re hoping to go.

In addition to reading a map, listen to local traffic reports and do research online to find out which roads are closed due to construction or other events. You can then plan alternate routes ahead of time and save yourself a huge headache.

Avoid Changing Lanes on Narrow Roads

Many downtown roads are narrower than you may be used to. Unless you need to change lanes due to construction, a lane ending or a stopped vehicle, try to avoid doing so. It can be tough to change lanes safely on narrow streets.

Look Out for Other Cars

With a large number of cars driving downtown, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled and stay alert. That’s why it’s important to take note of what other vehicles are doing and to focus on what’s going on around you.

Pay attention to signal indicators that tell you where other vehicles are headed and try to anticipate what other drivers may do. For example, if you notice that a lane is ending ahead of you, watch out for cars that might try to exit that lane suddenly.

Stop Tailgating & Watch your Speed

Keep a safe distance from other vehicles. First of all, tailgating is illegal. Second of all, it’s unsafe. You never know when other vehicles will stop suddenly.

Adjust your speed and drive with the flow of traffic. Don’t drive either too fast or too slow as both of these options can be dangerous. It’s also important that you don’t make any sudden, unpredictable movements. Other drivers might not be expecting you to suddenly stop or change lanes and they may not be able to react in time. This can lead to an accident and that’s someone no one wants, especially on vacation!

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