London: A driver’s guide to navigating the city
Driving in large city areas comes with its own unique set of challenges. Busy commuters, angry taxi drivers, frantic cyclists… This is common for drivers who are familiar with city driving. For those who are not so used to it, the experience can be stressful and frustrating.
There are many lacking inexperience who are scared of driving as their fear comes from various situations such as navigating in unfamiliar places, being trapped in a traffic jam and travelling alongside large vehicles. These fears can occur even more so in a city like London, so it’s useful to learn how to overcome driving fears.
For some navigating through London’s city streets, here are some more tips for keeping safe behind the wheel to help make driving in a busy city a little easier.
Always plan the route in advance before setting off
There are many ways to commute and travel around the city of London depending on which mode of transport is preferred. Careful planning is key to good city driving. Before starting a trip, it’s sensible to look up the destination on a map and identify the best route for getting there. Next, it’s a good idea to check the Internet, listen to the radio or watch the regional news to find out if there are incidents affecting traffic. Drivers should be sure to have a map with them and a sat nav if they have one. The Transport for London website is a valuable resource to look at, which outlines ways to get around the city, useful travel information, and timetables.
If possible, it’s best to avoid driving in the city during rush hours. Typically, rush hour traffic is at its peak during the hours of 7:30am and 9am and 4:30pm. and 7pm. It’s a good idea to stay off major roadways during these times. Rush hour traffic not only increases the time it takes to reach a destination, but it will also subject travellers to more frustration, higher chances of an accident and the wrath of city drivers.
Follow the four-second rule when following cars
City streets can often be jam-packed with traffic but it’s always important to keep a good distance from the other cars around. The four-second rule helps give other drivers enough space in busy streets. Here’s how to keep that distance: watch the vehicle ahead pass a fixed point. Count off the time it takes to reach the same spot. If the mark is reached in under two seconds, the car in front is being following too closely. If the weather conditions or the road are not good, best judgment should be used to maintain an ideal following distance.
Be vigilant and observe signals and signage
Just as with any road, it’s important for drivers to always be vigilant when they’re driving in a city. Cities are often a lot busier than village and town roads, so it’s important for drivers to pay attention and observe their surroundings. Paying attention doesn’t just apply to roads but also surroundings such as pedestrians and changing weather conditions that could impact the situation.
Successful driving in busy cities like London requires paying attention to signs and signage for sudden changes in traffic rules. Some signs to look out for include one-way streets, exiting or turning lanes, changes in speed limits, parking restrictions, left-turn or advanced green lights and left-turn restrictions at traffic lights.
Watch out for vulnerable road users
As one gets closer and closer to the city centre, encounters with more and more road users such as motorbike users, cyclists, and pedestrians are inevitable. In London, the rules for protecting other road users are extensive and must be obeyed at all times. Drivers must be aware of their surroundings and maintain a high degree of safety. Often there could be pedestrians crossing when they shouldn’t be or motorbikes and cyclists weaving in and out of traffic. It’s important to always use mirrors and pay attention to surroundings to avoid collisions.
Get acquainted with city driving
Different cities have different traffic rules and cultures. It is therefore wise to become acquainted with these to help navigate the city smoothly. Knowing the local traffic rules and cultures can help avoid a traffic ticket or potentially dangerous situation. Doing research beforehand or practice driving on a quiet day can help drivers get used to what to expect during busy periods of city driving.
For new drivers (or even a more experienced ones) there are driving lessons in the UK that can help with gaining more driving confidence. Pass Plus driving lessons can help individuals prepare for driving on quiet roads, busy city streets, and even the motorway. Based in Southall, aditdrivingschool.com provides manual and automatic driving lessons that can help drivers gain valuable experience for driving in areas of West London.
Pay attention and always be cautious when approaching traffic Lights
Following traffic lights in the city is much more appreciated than with small town lights. As cities are so fast-paced, so too are the traffic lights, therefore it is important to be ready to stop or go when at traffic lights. A good indicator of when lights are about to change is when they have been green for a very long time. When approaching them, it’s essential to be mindful that they could start to shift towards red at any point. As London traffic is often packed, drivers should pay attention to who is behind them when breaking to avoid any unwanted accidents.
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