Driving and Parking in new York City

Driving and parking within Manhattan is an expensive way to get around. Use taxis, car services, buses and subways. Parking rules are complex, paid parking in mid-town starts at $8.50 for 30 minutes. Driving up and down town is usually slower than taking the subway, and traffic barely moves during rush hour. Masses of pedestrians, aggressive cab-drivers from distant places, triple-parked trucks, wrong-way bike messengers and the infamous “gridlock” require nerves of steel. Gas stations are difficult to find in Manhattan. Ride – dont drive – but if you must drive, here are some hints.

Visitors need to have a valid driver’s licenses issued by their state or country of residence. International Driver’s Licenses are not valid. The age requirement for driving in New York is 16 years. If you plan to become a resident of New York State, you are required to get a New York State Drivers License from the New York State Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Drivers must carry auto registration or rental contract and proof of automobile insurance at all times. Drivers must have proof of insurance and liability insurance. Coverage must be a minimum of $25,000 for injury, $50,000 for death and $10,000 for property damage arising from an accident.

Although you might not guess it by the way New Yorkers drive, there are laws that govern the flow of traffic. You should obey them as the city is now enforcing these laws with some regularity. The most important of these are:

It is illegal to drive a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Fines and penalties for drinking and driving are extremely severe in New York. Do not do it. If your blood alcohol is 0.10% you are considered “drunk” and unable to drive.

“Dont block the box” means do not enter an intersection until you have a clear path all the way through it. If the light turns red and you are stuck in the middle of the intersection (the “box”) you can be ticketed with a moving violation and suffer the anger and epithets of the drivers you blocked. Particularly important “boxes” are marked by a grid of white lines.

No right turns at red lights, except where a sign clearly states that a turn is permitted. (Outside NYC, it is legal to turn right on red after coming to a full stop.)

Speed limits: The maximum speed limit on major expressways in New York City is 55 miles per hour (mph) (100 kph), but traffic often moves faster. Often the police will not stop you if you are going with the flow of the traffic (but not faster). Speed limits in the city range from 25mph in residential areas to 35mph on major streets. If not posted, it is 30 mph. Yield to all pedestrians, even if you have a green light.

Signal before turning or changing lanes. This is often not in New York, but the police can and will ticket you for it.

Most streets in New York are “one-way,” which means traffic only flows in one direction. They usually alternate in direction. Each one-way street has signs clearly showing which way traffic flows. Pay close attention to them.

Parking regulations are strictly enforced and illegally parked cars are frequently towed away. Do not park in spaced marked with the blue sign “For Disabled”: you are subject to a heavy fine.

Seat belts must be worn in the front seat and by children ages 4-10 in the back set. All children under the age of 4 years must use child safety seats. Car seats are available from car rental agencies. Not only is it a law, but they are also very effective in reducing injuries.

Have fun and be safe!