Busy traffic on city road

Beat the stress of city driving with these tips

Urban driving is very different from driving in rural areas. In towns and cities, you are usually faced with challenges such as heavy traffic, one-way streets, cyclists and pedestrians. It doesn’t need to be stressful and there are lots of things you can do to make urban driving less daunting. Here are our tips for city driving.

Plan ahead

It is easy to get lost when driving in towns and cities, especially as many of them have one-way streets. Even signposts and road markings can be difficult to identify and take in when there’s heavy traffic. Therefore, the best thing to do is find the exact address of where you are going and input your route into a satellite navigation (sat nav) or your smartphone app (as long as you can use it safely hands-free) before you set off.

Part of planning ahead is also allowing extra time for getting lost. It happens to everyone occasionally. After all, you can’t always rely on a sat nav-even the most experienced drivers can get caught in a puzzling one-way system or take the wrong exit on a roundabout. If this happens, don’t panic. Pull over safely, take a deep breath, decide exactly where you need to go next and then carry on.

Be vigilant

You need to be vigilant for all road users when you are driving in the city. There are cyclists, motorcyclists, people using mobility scooters and pedestrians. Be patient and give them enough space when passing them. If you have a new car, it’s important to remember that the latest models can be very quiet, so some people might not even hear you coming. Be mindful they could step into the road and be ready to respond quickly and safely if they do.

Road cyclist

It’s more important than ever to watch out for other road users when city driving

Keep your distance

Keep a gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. Things can grind to a halt quickly in stop-start traffic and it is not always predictable. While you can’t control how close the person behind you decides to get, you can help things by checking your mirrors regularly. On the occasion that a vehicle is tailgating you, be aware that you will need to brake early to lower the chance of it colliding with the rear of your car.

Be prepared for narrow roads

The roads of some of the UK’s older towns and cities were not made for today’s vehicles, so even a small car can seem wide in a narrow street. In this situation, you may need to be extra aware of the width of your vehicle and whether its wing mirrors can fold. You may have a particularly wide car, so you’ll need to take this into account when planning your journey and possibly find an alternative route.

Consider the size of your car and its efficiency

If you are mainly going to drive in a city environment, it may be worth getting a small set of wheels. The more compact your vehicle, the easier it will be to drive around busy, constricted roads.

Urban drivers tend to get the poorest fuel efficiency, which is why car manufacturers offer urban and extra-urban fuel consumption figures. You need to consider this when choosing a car to keep your fuel bills under control. But whichever kind of vehicle you drive, rather than speeding up when the traffic clears, you should try and keep to a constant speed. This will always give you the best fuel efficiency.

Fuel pump

Having a small car is one way to save fuel if you live in a city

Patience is key

You need patience when you are driving in cities. For example, you will need a lot of it when trying to get out of a hectic junction with vehicles parked either side, obscuring your view. In this situation, you should move forward very gradually, glancing out as far as possible. This way, a collision is unlikely and you are encouraging those on the main road to slow their speed and possibly let you out.

Crime-proof your vehicle

Finally, you should try to ‘crime-proof’ your vehicle because there are higher rates of car theft recorded in urban areas than in rural areas. Secure your car with anti-theft features like a wheel lock and put any valuables in the boot of your car, ensuring you always park in a well-lit area.

Find your perfect car for city driving

The Motability Scheme enables you to exchange all or part of your mobility allowance to lease one of thousands of different car models available. Use our car search tool to find a fuel-efficient city car that suits your needs and request an information pack to find out more about the perks of joining the Scheme.


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