Tips for Driving at Night in Big Cities

July 4, 2018Car Driving Tips
Blake Shaw

Bostonian and residential moving and packing expert. Blake Shaw enjoys bar-hopping, music, and writing insightful content.

If you have relocated to a bigger city and hired a USA auto transport company to ship your car, it is natural to feel slight apprehension about traffic, especially if you are coming from a smaller town. Hence, it might be helpful to check these tips for driving at night in big cities, since you will probably have to use your car much more often.

Nighttime Driving in Big Cities Has Its Advantages

Before we jump into the actual tips, we want to share a few reasons why you should consider nighttime drives, especially if you have hired a car shipping company and relocated to a bigger city:

No traffic congestion

If you are still a novice, anxiety while you drive is a natural feeling. However, this can become a problem in bigger cities as drivers are inconsiderate and won’t tolerate even minor mistakes. However, in the evenings, there is always less traffic, and you will have much more freedom. So, for example, if you have chosen terminal-to-terminal car shipping instead of door-to-door auto transport, we suggest going to pick up your car after 7 pm if possible.

Fewer cyclists and pedestrians

One of the reasons why there are so many US cities with bad traffic is the fact that they don’t have a well-developed cyclist system. Although there is nothing wrong with riding a bike, there is no denying that cyclists can create a lot of problems and confusion. Pedestrians also tend to be careless, mostly by not respecting the traffic lights and crossing the streets off marked crossings. During the nighttime, such situations happen less frequently.

More time to park

Learning the art of parking your car, especially in reverse, is one of the hardest things for a driver to master. It gets even more difficult if there is a row of impatient drivers behind, honking incessantly at you while trying to park. Therefore, for your own safety, it is best to either find an area where there isn’t much traffic or head out in the evening and start practicing.

No queues at car services

If you have to use a car wash, refill your gas tank, or change a flat tire, there will be no queues in the evenings.

And finally, shipping cars in the USA is a common thing, whether it is open trailer transport (the most affordable option) or enclosed auto transport (recommended if the weather is not favorable). However, if you are an inexperienced driver and it suits your relocation budget, consider a long drive to your destination. It will give you much-needed experience, and more importantly, you will learn what it means driving on a highway at night and explore some famous routes in the USA.

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Only Enter Your Car at Night if You Feel Rested

Evening drives are specific as they affect your brain differently. Our bodies are used to resting and sleeping, and your mind can easily start shutting down as there isn’t any stimulation to keep you awake. Moreover, the quietness and the humming of the engine can even produce a soporific effect, and unfortunately, there have been many cases where people have fallen asleep on their steering wheels. On top of that, since you have relocated to another state, there might even be the problem of adjustment insomnia. Hence, only enter your car if you feel rested for your own safety.

If for any reason you start feeling fatigued, one of the advantages of big cities is that you can pay for a parking space, leave your car overnight, and come back tomorrow to pick it up. Of course, a person sometimes is forced to drive, and here are things you should keep in your car and do to keep your brain alert:

  • Keep a straight posture, don’t slouch,
  • Have a caffeinated drink at your disposal,
  • If you can’t drink caffeine, have some sodas or juices with a lot of sugar,
  • Turn on your radio as louder music can help a lot,
  • If possible, ask a friend or family member to accompany you.

On a Night When Drinking Will Be Involved, Driving Is Out of the Question

Unfortunately, especially during weekends, many people engage in this dangerous act, and as a result, many have lost their lives. If, for example, you are going out to meet friends in the new city at a party, leave your car in the garage and use public transportation. Also, being the designated driver is also dangerous, and if you are in that situation, avoid letting unknown drunk people ride in your car. If people start acting up, immediately stop and throw them out. As a designated driver, you have to feel safe at all times.

A person sitting inside a car
The most important thing for the safety of all involved is that the driver is comfortable

Know That Headlights Are Enough to See Everything Clearly in the Big Cities

Don’t use high beams in cities! The combination of city lights and headlights is more than enough to see everything clearly around you, and high beams should only be used if you are on some pitch black road, but that is highly unlikely unless perhaps you have relocated to a suburban area of a big city.

Why is this important? High beams are intense lights, and you will blind the drivers of each oncoming vehicle for a few seconds. Now, the same can happen to you as well since many drivers simply don’t know the rules. An oncoming vehicle that has its high beams turned on can be spotted from miles away. The trick to avert being blinded is to fix your gaze at the right edge of the road, ideally on the road line, just as the oncoming vehicle is about to pass you.

Inspect the Lights and Adjust the Angle of Headlights Before You Drive

Although city lights will make your surroundings visible, it is completely out of the question to drive without functioning headlights, rear end, fog, or brake lights. It is extremely dangerous, especially during nighttime, and naturally, you will immediately be stopped by the police and fined. Also, if you have bought a new car, your headlights might be tilted too low or up. If they are too low, they won’t provide visibility, and if they are too upward, they act pretty much like high beams. The instruction manual that comes with the car will help you make the adjustments.

Keep Your Lane and Signal on Time When You Want to Switch

If you have been living in a smaller town, nearby highways were probably the only roads with more than two lanes. However, in bigger cities, it is natural for a street to be much wider, and the principle is the same. SUVs, luxury, and sports cars use faster lanes and midsized, compact cars slower. Hence, if you are in a slower lane, you have to indicate on time that you intend to switch lanes. Of course, at all times, you should look at your rearview mirror while doing so.

We have mentioned that, during nighttime, there is less traffic, and people who own powerful cars tend to become a bit careless. If you don’t make the signal by turning your rear end light, there is a chance of collision – there won’t be enough time for maneuvering since the difference in speed is huge between the two lanes. Here is a useful video that will give you more information on how to switch lanes in a safe manner.

YouTube video

Don’t Go Too Fast and Watch Out for Unmarked Cyclists

For all beginners who are learning how to drive at night, the general rule is to avoid even maximally allowed speeds. Always go a bit slower than the sign suggests for maximum safety. No matter how good the visibility is, we are not nocturnal beings, and our vision is impaired at nighttime. Pay special attention when passing busy streets or tourist areas with many bars, and be wary of cyclists as many ride bikes without proper equipment.

However, You Have to Adjust to the Traffic Conditions

Even though you shouldn’t go fast, you can’t go too slow either, as that is a traffic violation as well. When in a big city, you have to adjust your speed to the general traffic. The good thing about nighttime is that busy streets would mostly be in downtown areas. Before booking relocating services to a certain town, it is not bad to do some research and see, for example, the traffic conditions of Seattle, Chicago, or New York. Overall, there are many US cities with good and safe traffic conditions where drivers don’t value speed and are not prone to road rage.

Red and white sign
Respect the speed limit when driving in urban areas

Even Though the Light Is Green, Look for Pedestrians on Both Sides

If you are passing a huge intersection or a road that is not so well illuminated, double-check all sides before the green light turns on. There are people who cross the street more slowly, and there are those who are running to catch their green light. Both are hard to spot during nighttime, and accidents happen in a split second.

Be Careful When Passing Streets With Parallel Parked Cars on Both Sides

In most big cities, there will be many streets where both sides are filled with parallel parked cars. If you happen to pass one during nighttime, do it more slowly, as many people don’t think too much about their safety and enter or exit their cars on the street instead of on the pavement. In the evenings, it is much harder to see them, especially in suburban areas.

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Avoid Traffic During Extreme Weather Conditions

If it suddenly starts to snow heavily, or there is a torrential downpour or thick fog outside, refrain from entering your vehicle. Your vision will already be constricted by nighttime, and poor weather conditions will only make matters worse. Wait for the storm or blizzard to calm down and for city authorities to clean the streets. Only choose to drive in case of an emergency in such conditions. The weather forecast can be followed at all times on the Weather Channel’s official website.

Snow-covered street
Avoid driving in unfavorable weather conditions

Always Be in a Good Mood and Avoid Any Confrontations

This is possibly the most important tip you should consider when relocating to a big city. You have probably seen those funny TV car shows where many instances of road rage are displayed. However, in real life, these situations can be awful, and, unfortunately, they happen often in big cities. Here is some general advice on how to behave and ensure your safety:

  • Don’t honk too much, especially in gridlock. Nothing will be achieved.
  • If a person is persistent in switching lanes, even though it is not a good situation to do so, simply slow down and let the vehicle enter your lane.
  • Don’t react to any provocations. Drivers will always think that they are right, and there is no help to it.
  • Always let pedestrians and cyclists pass even though they are violating traffic laws.

These Tips for Driving at Night Will Ensure Your Safety and Composure

Living without a car in a metropolis can be inconvenient. Luckily, there are a lot of affordable shipping options nowadays, and you can always journey to your destination by yourself. Whether it is nighttime or daytime, it doesn’t matter, the key to being a good driver is confidence, and that can only be attained through practice. Therefore, don’t be afraid, but also be careful and think about your safety at all times.

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