If you’re from a rural area, you’re likely more familiar with driving in light traffic at a more relaxed speed than driving on the quick-paced and busy roads of urban centers. You may even dread the times you need to go into the city. But there are certain things that may require a trip into a metropolitan area:

  • Legal assistance
  • Major league sporting events
  • Medical specialists
  • Specialty shopping

Whether it’s for one of these things or for some other reason, here are some tips on how to make your drive through the city a little more pleasant.

Part 1 of 2: Preparing for your drive

If you get ready for your trip into the city, you should have a much better experience while you drive.

Step 1: Plot your route the day before. Use Google Maps to get directions for your trip.

If you have more than one stop to make, plan the order in which you’ll be going to each stop.

Get directions between each stop for simple navigation.

Step 2: Start your journey well-rested. By getting a good night’s sleep the night before your trip, you’ll remain more calm when the stress of driving in the city begins; this is particularly important if you know that city driving makes you anxious.

Make sure you are up well before you need to leave. If you’re rushing around completing last-minute tasks, you’ll be stressed before you even get in your vehicle.

Step 3: Get your vehicle ready. Avoid vehicle distractions while you’re in the busy city.

If you need to fuel up before you leave, do so the day before, and check your fluids to make sure they are topped off.

If you’re expecting inclement weather, top up your washer fluid and bring an extra jug with you.

If you need your vehicle checked out before you head out on your trip to the city, a certified mechanic from YourMechanic can do that for you.

Part 2 of 2: Using safe driving methods

Driving in a metropolitan area is very different from driving in the country. There are more stop lights, more lanes of traffic, overpasses, underpasses, off-ramps, and more. Regardless of where you’re headed in the city, maintaining sound driving techniques will ensure you get there safely.

Step 1: Plan your turns ahead of time. In busy traffic, it isn’t easy getting across multiple lanes of traffic.

When you know your turn is coming up in a block or two, move over to the appropriate lane. Don’t try to turn from any lanes other than the assigned turning lanes.

If you can’t get over to make your turn, it’s better to continue straight until the next turn and loop back around or circle the block than to disrupt traffic by turning from the wrong lane.

Step 2: Drive at the same speed as other traffic. Going with the flow will prevent frustration for both you and other drivers. If you drive slower than other traffic, you’ll be a potential obstacle that could cause an accident.

Should you be uncomfortable driving at the same speed as other traffic, it may be better to plan a route that doesn’t include major streets.

Step 3: Always signal your intentions. Other drivers need to know where you are planning to be.

When you need to change lanes or make a turn, signal at least 10 car lengths in advance.

Maintain your speed when changing lanes and keep your signal light on until your lane change or turn is complete.

Step 4: Be courteous to other drivers. Drive confidently and assertively but let others move through traffic as well.

Blocking someone from passing you or entering your lane is dangerous and can cause an accident.

Wave when someone lets you in, as long as it is safe to take your hand off the wheel.

When you’re driving in a metropolitan area, there are distractions everywhere. Do your best to keep your focus on the road ahead until you get to your destination. If you end up getting flustered, find a safe spot to stop and relax.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Drive in an Urban Area If You're from the Countryside and was authored by Jason Unrau.


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