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Cities are densely-populated places, and driving through major urban roads can present a unique set of challenges. Traffic tends to build up fast during rush hour, the one-way streets can be maze-like, and there are hundreds of pedestrians around. Consequently, anyone new to driving in these settings might initially find city roads daunting and frustrating to navigate at first. 

With so many hazards to take into account, be they cyclists or tourists, you will need to know how to drive in these busy areas. Whether you work as a PCO driver or are simply planning a trip, our list of tips will equip you with the key things to take into account while driving in a busy city. Soon enough, you’ll be less stressed, boost your driving confidence, and have improved your abilities on the road. Read on for our top ten tips to navigating city streets.

  1. Plan your route

    Getting lost while driving in a busy city like London can be especially frustrating and time-consuming. With so many roads to navigate, and frequent unexpected traffic obstructions, you may find yourself stuck somewhere with little idea of how to find your way back on track.

    As such, it’s best to plan your route the night before a journey if possible, or if you’re operating as a PCO driver, refresh your knowledge of the city roads to avoid getting lost. Always allow extra time on your journey to accommodate for any wrong turns or setbacks like accidents or road works and try to keep up-to-date with any major accidents or planned roadworks. Apps like Waze can give you real-time updates about any significant issues you might face on your journey, and can plan convenient alternative routes for you if need be.


  2. Avoid rush hour if possible

    Driving through the city between the hours of 7am and 9am, and 4pm to 6pm, will be the busiest time for traffic, and you may experience long delays as a result. If possible, we would recommend avoiding these periods, though we understand that it may be unavoidable if you work 9-5, or operate as a PCO driver during these times to earn extra income. After all, demand for rides is higher in rush hour, and your customers’ fare will increase as a result. While travelling outside of rush hour will be less daunting, make sure you drive safely on busier roads and map out routes beforehand if you have to.


  3. Check your insurance

    Insurance is essential for drivers to be able to cover costs and repairs that occur as a result of any accidents. Those familiar with our PCO car hire scheme will know that we provide full servicing for your car as part of our overall package, including maintenance and repairs. So while it’s unlikely you’ll need to claim any insurance as a Hirebrid customer, car insurance is still essential for all drivers, as it provides financial security for accidents, including repair and medical costs. Car insurance is a safety net — you never know what might happen on the roads. Contact us today for more information about our insured PCO cars.


  4. Know where you’re parking

    Parking in busy cities like London can be challenging, so prior to any journey, find out where available car parks are located and what they charge. This prevents you from spending time circling the area in search of a spot, as well as helping to reduce car emissions. It’s worth being extra cautious in the city, however, as there are plenty of double yellow lines and other strict rules to adhere to, with hefty charges if you don’t comply.


  5. Pay close attention to speed limits

    Keeping to the changing speed limits on London roads will keep you safe and save you from incurring any speeding fines. However, it can be easy to miss a sign telling you to drive more slowly if you’re focusing on the road, or if a large vehicle is obstructing the speed limit signs. You should research the speed limits before embarking on your journey to avoid any mishaps.


  6. Choose your lane in advance

    Carefully identifying the correct lane before you indicate will help you get where you need to be as quickly as possible without being involved in any accidents. For instance, when approaching a roundabout in busy traffic, you’ll likely be able to cut in if you find yourself in the wrong lane. However, this may be particularly difficult during rush hour and you might waste time as a result. You may get the odd driver who’s polite enough to let you cut in, but that’s not often the case in cities where so many people are rushing to get somewhere.

    If you end up in the wrong lane, we suggest that the safest option would be to continue to follow the roundabout until it’s safe to change lanes again.


  7. Check if you can use busy lanes

    There are different rules for driving in bus lanes, so be cautious and avoid using them unless signs specify that you can. These signs will inform you which vehicles can use the bus lane, and the hours in which these rules are in effect, as you may be able to drive in bus lanes outside of the regular bus service timetables. However, be wary as bus lane times change for different roads. In London, for instance, bus lanes typically allow for buses, licensed taxis, motorcycles (without sidecars), mopeds, scooters and bicycles, though some are only permitted for use by local bus services.


  8. Keep your car safe

    A city like London is prone to high crime rates, and the last thing you want is for your car to be broken into and your possessions stolen. When parking, choose a secure, well-lit car park in a safe location, and remember to always take your valuables with you, or lock them out of sight inside the glove compartment.

    If you’re planning to leave your car in the city overnight, invest in more proactive security measures such as a wheel lock or motion-sensitive lights. You should also have a car alarm that isn’t overly sensitive to pedestrians simply walking past.


  9. Maintain space between cars

    Ensure that you keep the recommended distance in between other cars when driving, especially during heavy, slow-moving traffic. Leave enough room in waiting traffic so that if a car suddenly brakes, your vehicle is far enough away not to be impacted, or if someone breaks down in front, you can easily manoeuvre yourself out.

    Generally, the two-second rule is a good practice to follow while driving — stay at least two seconds behind any vehicle directly in front of you. This allows you to maintain a safe trailing distance, considerably reducing your risk of collision, and the severity of injuries should an accident happen. You should also keep far enough from larger vehicles for them not to obstruct your view.

  10. Consider alternative forms of transport

    If you’re worried about driving in a busy city, you don’t always have to be behind the wheel yourself. There are many alternative forms of transport in places like London, including buses, trains and taxis, so you’ll never be stuck somewhere for very long. And with the rise of Uber, there’ll likely never be a shortage of drivers in your area. This means you can avoid the stress of driving in a busy city and let someone else do the hard work for you.

    That said, if you’re already an Uber driver then make sure to use the rest of our tips in this guide to help you tackle the busy city streets.

That said, if you’re already an Uber driver then make sure to use the rest of our tips in this guide to help you tackle the busy city streets.

If driving around among the hustle and bustle of a city sounds like something you’d like to do, get in touch with us about our PCO hire and Rent to Buy services today.