In the summertime, when the weather is nice, there’s nothing better than going for a drive.
That’s especially true if you’re on vacation and boy, do Americans love to drive. Driving is by far the top choice for vacation transportation and more than 75% of adults who travel for vacation use cars and trucks to reach their destination.
Some of the most popular destinations for Americans on vacations are big cities. Some tourists like to avoid the hustle and bustle of big cities, it’s hard to deny their allure with plenty of hotel and shopping options and entertainment on every corner. Nowadays, it’s never been easier to plan a vacation ahead of time. City travel guides allow tourists to plan their vacations ahead of time; sometimes literally hour by hour.
There’s no doubt vacationing in a big city can be a blast, but driving in a big city you’re unfamiliar with can be a bit of a challenge. Even if you consider yourself to be a good and safe driver, there are all kinds of obstacles that can pop up with city driving including:
- Sudden speed limit changes
- Increased traffic
- Varying road conditions I.e. damaged or uneven roads
- Less driver etiquette i.e. impatient and rude drivers
- More turning and merging due to changes in traffic flow
- More pedestrians to watch out for
- More driving distractions such as traffic signals and billboards
As you can see, there are quite a few hazards to city driving that can prove unnerving for even the most experienced of driving. The key is knowing what to do when driving in the city to avoid accidents and potentially costly traveling car repairs. Here’s how you can make city driving much easier for yourself:
If you live in a rural area, you’re likely not used to seeing tons of traffic. But since you know you’re likely going to during your big-city vacation, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself.
One way you can prepare yourself is to try and avoid driving in big cities during rush hour. In many cities, that means 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. Staying off the roads during peak times will keep your stress levels down, reduce your risk of getting in an auto collision, and facing the wrath of resident drivers.
Being prepared also means understanding the behavior of native drivers. Since they live there, they’re used to traffic jams, how to navigate through pedestrians and even when to speed up in certain areas to avoid getting boxed in. Keeping your cool and knowing how to navigate will help you avoid accidents and traveling car repairs that usually accompany them. The native drivers will appreciate it as well.
It’s also important that you’re observant when driving in the city. If you’re feeling anxious, your best bet is to stay in the far right lane. This puts you with other, slower drivers and takes a lot of the pressure off doing things like going 90 in the fast lanes because that’s what everyone else is doing. Instead, you can breathe easier and take things at a more leisurely pace.
You’re still going to have to watch out for cars merging on the interstate though and for pedestrians and cyclists if you’re driving through a busy part of town. The best thing you can do is stay calm and keep your focus at all times.
Know Where Things Are
Being observant in a big city also means getting a feel for where essential things are. As you settle into your accommodations, take note of where fuel services are located as well as coffee shops and maybe even a few restaurants in the area. It never hurts to get your bearings and have a general sense of where you are.
It might not hurt to find one or two automobile repair shops relative to your location. Ideally, you don’t want to have to make any traveling car repairs on vacation, but it’s also good to know where shops are in case something happens. The last thing you need is to have a flat tire in the middle of traffic or have one of your console lights pop on and have no idea where to go to address those issues.
One “Welcome to the big city” moment you absolutely don’t want to have is an encounter with a pothole. Nothing can send you to an auto body repair shop for traveling car repairs faster than a pothole that wrecks your tires and causes heavy damage.
Rather than getting surprised by a pothole or an area with uneven asphalt paving, this is another time when it pays to be observant. So how can you avoid hitting a pothole? Follow these tried-and-true tips:
- Don’t tailgate—if a driver that’s ahead of you hits a pothole, you’re going to need space to move.
- If you absolutely can’t avoid a pothole, slow down. This can help reduce the wear and tear on your car.
- If you see a pothole up ahead, don’t speed up when driving over it.
- On the flip side of that, don’t brake into a pothole. It’s best to let your car take the impact and save your brakes.
- If you do hit a pothole, pull over in a safe spot and assess your car’s condition, checking for any signs of damage.
If you do wind up hitting a pothole, you may want to make a trip to an auto repair shop. If there is damage to your car, it’s best to get an idea of how bad it might be right then and then rather than having to make costly traveling car repairs a few days later.
Get Your Car Checked Out Before Vacation
Taking long car rides on vacation can be a blast, but if you really think about it, road trips and vacations are more or less like marathons for your vehicle. As such, you’re going to want to get things checked out before you do anywhere.
Again, the last thing you want is to have to make unwanted and costly traveling car repairs in an unfamiliar city. Let’s face it, trying to track down used car motor parts or dealing with heating contractors in a place you don’t know can really put a damper on your vacation plans and a dent in your wallet.
The best thing to do is some basic maintenance, including:
- Fluid checks
- Tire checks including rotation and checks for punctures or low PSI
- General maintenance, which includes checking lightbulbs, air filters, brakes and your heating and AC units. Doing AC maintenance can be crucial, especially if you’re driving during the summer.
Make Sure You Have Insurance
You might be all gassed up and ready to get your vacation started, but before you leave the driveway it’s good to consider where your car insurance stands. Sure, you have it for everyday driving in your area, but the rules can change a bit when you’re driving on vacation
The first thing to consider is whether or not your insurance policy covers any drivers besides you. Remember, car insurance insures the car, not the driver. Fortunately, that also means that most policies will cover a friend or family members who might be splitting some of the drive time with you on vacation. You’ll want to check to find out exactly what the rules of your policy are.
You’ll also want to check to see if services like roadside assistance will be available through your car insurance on your vacation. In the event of an accident, you may need to be towed and it helps to know how far and where a towing company can take your vehicle. Ultimately, you’re looking for your policy to help you get where you need to go if you run into trouble.
Another option you have, especially if you’ve rented a car, is to just add rental coverage. This can pay off in a big way if you should get into an accident. If you’re not at fault, the insurance company will pay for your rental while everything is being investigated. This keeps you on the road rather than being stuck waiting for another person’s company to pay your claim.
Know What To Do In The Event Of An Accident
Nothing can derail a vacation in a big city faster than getting into a car accident. They leave you frustrated, angry, and get your blood pumping. No one wants to be in a car accident, but should you find yourself in one, there are several steps you should take to handle the situation the right way.
The first thing you need to do is stay calm. You’re going to have a million things running through your head when an accident happens. Rather than lashing out at others involved in the accident, take a breath and turn your car off.
If you’re injured in an accident, an ambulance needs to be called. If your injuries are severe, the best move is to stay in your car and let someone attend to you when help arrives.
Along with taking some photos of the incident (if you can), you also need to call the local authorities to file a report. It doesn’t matter if no one is injured and the damage to vehicles is minimal. This gets everything on record in case the other party decides to pursue legal action down the road. Everything you can recall—from the time, the date and the location to the accident to the sequence of events is helpful.
It’s important to note that when an accident happens, you need to be very careful about what you say on the scene. Even if you’re at fault, it’s best to stick with the facts rather than outright admitting guilt. The authorities and insurance companies will hammer out who’s at fault. Both parties should exchange pertinent insurance and contact information however.
Lastly, report the accident to your insurance company.
Taking Legal Action
If you got the worst of it in an accident—you’re not at fault, your car needs traveling car repairs and you’re injured severely injured—it might be prudent to take legal action.
If this is a course you want to take, an experienced accident attorney can consult with you on the incident and determine if you’ve got a solid case. Accident attorneys are well-versed in legal matters, they’ve likely dealt with dozens of cases just like yours and they’ll be able to walk you through all the steps in the process.
Bottom line: an accident attorney is there to help you and help you get a fair settlement. If the injuries you sustained in an accident are life-altering i.e. you may not be able to return to work or you’ve been left physically impaired, your attorney can work through the case and ultimately get you a settlement that will help you deal with the fallout of an accident.
With good weather, plenty of enthusiasm and by keeping your wits about you, a vacation in a big city can be a blast. It gives you a chance to see all manner of exciting sights and offers plenty of entertainment options. As if that wasn’t enough, big city vacations are also pretty affordable and you can book everything from accommodations to rental cars to entertainment right from your phone.
Should you find yourself in need of traveling car repairs or involved in an auto accident, the most important thing is to stay calm. Those things can put a damper on your vacation, but they don’t have to end it. Local auto body shops can work with you to make any traveling car repairs you need to keep going on your vacation or to get back home. Taking the time to do some maintenance and check-ups beforehand can save you from potentially costly traveling car repairs and get you back to enjoying your vacation as you intended.