For Minnesota residents who tend to stick to the suburbs, taking a trip to St. Paul or Minneapolis can quickly become confusing. City drivers are liable to face cross-streets that split 6 ways, plenty of pedestrians and one-way streets.
If you aren't suspecting these sudden traffic changes, one wrong move could easily endanger yourself and others. Here are a few tips to keep you on your toes while driving in an unfamiliar city.
1. Plan parking ahead of time
One of the biggest headaches of city driving is city parking. Look ahead of time to find out if there are popular events taking place during your visit, such as sports games or concerts. These may limit your parking options.
Have a few lots in mind that you may be able to park in. Make sure to bring cash in case they do not accept other payment options. You can also download the Minneapolis Parking App to pay for parking on your phone and update the meter if needed. Additionally, some restaurants may offer a valet service.
2. Time of day matters
If it's at all possible for you to take your trip to the city outside of rush hours, you'll likely have a safer ride. Driving between 7 and 9 am or between 4 and 6 pm puts you into congested traffic with experienced drivers who may try risky maneuvers.
3. Don't rush
If there is a specific event you're traveling into the city for, leave yourself plenty of time to travel, park and walk to the event so you aren't rushing. Drivers are more susceptible to accidents when they're focused on time instead of safety.
4. Get directions in a different way
Because there are so many intersections within short distances in the city, looking at your smartphone or GPS can distract you from emerging hazards, cars or pedestrians.
Try alternative ways of getting directions, such as taking a friend who is familiar with the area along for the ride. Another strategy may be to study the directions before getting into the car to make sure you know what to expect.
5. Don't hold your GPS device
If you're going to use a GPS device for navigation, use a service built into your car or purchase a windshield or dashboard mount to place the GPS device into while you drive.
Holding onto the device keeps you from steering properly and could potentially lead to trouble if you accidentally drop it.
6. Stay alert for pedestrians
Cities are full of pedestrians -- some of which may be jay-walkers -- so keep your eyes peeled at all times. Always double check that a crosswalk is clear before responding to a green light and watch out for persons entering and existing parallel parked vehicles on the sides of the road.
7. Avoid buses
City buses don't always fit very well in narrow streets. If you near a bus, give the vehicle plenty of room or pass it when safe to do so.
Know what to do in an accident
Accidents can happen to the best of city drivers. If one happens to you, call the police to the scene and seek medical attention for any injuries.
From there, an experienced attorney can help you speak to the other driver's insurance company and sort through your options for damage compensation.