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What you need to know about driving in the city

Busy commuters, frantic cyclists, angry taxi drivers. Ahh, city driving. Don't you just love it.

If this sounds all too familiar then you probably drive through this environment regularly. If this sounds like a scene from a very stressful film you'd rather not watch, it might be time to check you're in the know with city driving.

Whether you drive through built-up areas every day or you're more used to seeing tractors than double-decker buses, every driver should know how to adapt their driving to built-up areas.

  1. Plan your route

    In fact, plan several. Cities are hectic places and it can be pretty overwhelming getting lost in a concrete jungle. Everyone is trying to get to where they need to be in the quickest time possible, and people from the city aren't exactly renowned for their helpful, approachable, direction-giving.

    Having a satnav as a guide will help but you should map out your route and alternative routes before you leave. Fiddling with the satnav while you're driving (even stopped in traffic) is dangerous.

    Keep an eye on traffic reports and even if the roads look clear, leave yourself loads of time. Realising the London marathon is happening the morning of your interview is NOT the one.

  2. Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors

    Checking your mirrors regularly is something you should be doing anyway but even MORE so when you're driving in the city.

    It's so important to make your intentions crystal clear when driving in the city. You know the 'mirror, signal, manoeuvre' chant that your driving instructor drummed into your skull? Well, this is where it comes into play more than ever.

    You can sometimes get away with making a little mistake in a rural area because you have the space to correct it when you're not surrounded by 50 cars and 100 pedestrians. But in city rush hour, changing lanes without signalling or pulling away without checking your blind spot is going to end very differently.

    Moral of the story: check, check and check again.

  3. Be extra vigilant with road signs

    Surveillance is everywhere in built-up areas. So if you drive in a bus lane during times you're not supposed to, or put your foot down to make it to your 9am meeting, you're 100% going to get caught.

    If you're used to country driving where the lane markings are non-existent and there are fewer speed limit signs, you might have got too comfortable with bending the rules. Well, that ain't gonna happen if you're whizzing round town, so don't risk it and keep your eyes peeled.

  4. Spare change

    Trust me when I say having a few coins in your back pocket might just save your day. Parking in the city is notoriously sparse (and expensive, grr.) But there's nothing worse than getting to your destination and realising there's nowhere to park - or worse, poking your debit card hopelessly at a ticket machine that only takes coins.

    If you haven't factored finding a space into your plans, you're going to want to park the car wherever you can and leg it so you're not late. That means you'll inevitably, you'll end up at the mercy of a parking meter, and scrabbling around in the footwell for ONE MORE 20p is stress you just don't need.

  5. Distraction

    The city is noisy, lairy and full of distractions: buses, trams, desmonstrations, performance artists, flash mobs and silly, tiny dogs. It can be soooooooo tempting to take your eye off the road but it's possibly one of the worst times to do so.

    As hard as it is, you have to keep focused on what you and other drivers are doing. Having to call your mum to tell her you've crashed because you were watching a granny on a Segway? Not going to be fun.

  6. If you've got city driving in the bag, make sure you feel the same about driving in the country.


Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.