If you are new to New York, locals will tell you to be mindful of traffic rules. And if you disregard their advice, you do so at your peril. One of the more common advice you will often get is that you should avoid driving in the City if you don’t have to. They will also advise you to get an EZ Pass NY tag if you can to make your driving experience a lot less chaotic.
Using the subway and taxis in the city is often the better option not because New York City has bad roads but because the roads are often cramped with cars from dawn till dusks. New York has great roads, but driving on them can be nightmarish for even the most skilled driver. However, there are occasions when you can’t avoid driving, and during such occasions, you need to adhere to the rules of the road.
New York City’s Road Rules
Driving in the city can be one intimidating exercise because the streets are full of people, and the rules are just too much. But for clarity, we highlight some of the basic do’s and don’ts when driving.
#1 Watch the Red Signal: Be on the lookout for the red traffic signal at all times. Once it comes on, you cannot make a right turn except under special circumstances when you are allowed. This is different from what is obtainable in other states, and many have attracted huge fines for flouting this rule.
#2 Be Mindful of the Box: If the traffic light will soon change, maintain your position so that you do not get caught up in an intersection. Signs like “Don’t Block the Box” are common everywhere. Block the box at your peril.
#3 Make sure you pay to use tolls: New York State takes tolls very seriously. They are everywhere, and using them comes at a price. However, some routes such as Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges are toll-free. If you are going to drive through a toll that uses a cashless technology it is best to get an EZ Pass account to save you the stress of waiting to pay cash. If you don’t have an EZ Pass, however, your license plate will be photographed, and the toll fee will arrive via mail at your registered address.
#4 Keep your Cell Phone in your Pocket: Using a cell phone while driving is a violation of traffic rules and may attract a misdemeanor charge. You can’t make a call or send a text while driving in New York. However, you can use a hands-free device when making calls.
#5 Maintain Speed Limits: When driving in the city, maintain speed limits. Exceeding the legal limit is a violation you will have to a penalty for.
Other important information
There is other vital information you should bear in mind when driving around New York. We review some of them.
- If you are a new resident in New York, you should turn in your old state driving license for a new one issued by New York authorities within 30 days
- The legal driving age is 16
- The first stage to obtain a driver license is to get a learner permit that allows you to drive a car with another licensed individual who already has a license
- A permit holder must also take a driver education test and complete 50 hours of supervised driving
- The permit must be held for at least 6 months before qualifying for a license
- A junior license is available for those who are 16 years old and a senior license for 17-year-old drivers and above
- A driver must yield the right of way if an oncoming vehicle or pedestrians lurking around present a hazard
- A driver should yield the right of way in unmarked and marked crosswalks
- A driver with the right of way is not allowed to enter an intersection if there is a traffic gridlock that may prevent him from going through before the traffic green light turns red
- All passengers must have seat belts on
- Failure to wear a seat belt will attract a fine for all passengers that are 16 years and above
- Occupants in a car driven by a junior licensed driver must wear seat belts regardless of their sitting portions
- Toddlers under 4 must wear seat belts anchored to the car at all times
- A booster seat belt is compulsory for children who weigh 40 pounds or are up to 6 years of age
- A shoulder or lap belt is compulsory for children who weigh over 100 pounds
Some other general rules are:
Insurance: All vehicles driven in New York state must be insured. If your insurance has expired, you should return the license plate and registration number to the New York vehicle office within 90 days after the insurance expiration. Failure to do so will lead to the suspension of your driver’s license.
Inspection: If you purchase a vehicle, it must be inspected by officials within 30 days. If you bought yours outside New York, you must take it for inspection within 10 days after the date of purchase.
Turn signals: Turn signals should be used 100 ft before making the turn. If you notice that your turn signals are not working, using hand signals will suffice.
EZ Pass Customer Centers
If you want to contact EZ Pass officials for personal inquiries, you can get in touch with them at the following locations in the City.
- Staten Island: 1150 South Avenue
- Queen: 19-02 Whitestone Exp Suite 101, College Pt
- Nanuet: 27 Rockland Plaza Corner off Route 59
- Yonkers: 730 Mclean Ave