Tips For Driving In Chicago
September 22, 2021
Preparing to take on the Windy City? As one of the most bustling cities in America, Chicago is known for captivating museums, fabulous shopping centers and hectic traffic. Such urban traffic can be stressful, especially if you’re driving in Chicago for the first time. However, being aware of your surroundings and staying calm can help you get through the traffic and make it to your destination safely.
10 Tips to Get You Through Chicago Traffic
- Time your travel. This first tip is important, as avoiding the busiest, most congested times can make a huge difference in your drive. Check live traffic reports and watch for construction zones to escape slowdowns. Look ahead for festivals, concerts and sporting events, as these tend to increase traffic.
- Steer clear of rush hour, if possible. When is rush hour in Chicago? It’s important to find out before you leave for your destination. The heavy, sometimes stand-still traffic typically falls between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., as well as between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.
- Prepare for tolls. If you’re moving to the area, consider getting an I-Pass for greater convenience. If you don’t have an I-Pass, all tolls must be paid online within seven days.
- Yield to pedestrians and watch for cyclists. There is a high volume of pedestrians, bikers and e-scooters weaving in and out of traffic — especially in downtown Chicago. Sharing the road with all types of vehicles is necessary, as nearly 3 million people fill the busy streets and sidewalks.
- Do not use your cellphone while driving. Not only is it illegal in Illinois, it’s also extremely hazardous in urban traffic. Use a hands-free device and pre-load destinations into your GPS to prevent a hefty ticket — or worse.
- Watch for aggressive drivers. Speeding, passing on the shoulder, honking and yelling are just some of the aggressive behaviors you may experience. Avoid the hazards by leaving space to pass and not engaging with angry drivers. Keep windows up and doors locked.
- Follow basic rules of the road. It’s important to always use turn signals and keep a safe distance between you and other drivers. With the surplus of pedestrians and cyclists, it’s more than just other cars who depend on you to use your blinker.
- Be assertive, not aggressive. City drivers are not typically as relaxed as drivers from more rural areas, which means you need to be a proactive driver. This is especially true for lane changes, as others may not let you in just because your blinker is activated. If you go for the horn, remember that honking politely is best to avoid negative interactions.
- Be mindful of signs and cameras. City parking is a hassle to say the least, but there are clear parking signs indicating most restrictions. Remember that there are speeding devices in place, such as red-light cameras, that will issue tickets if you’re breaking the law.
- Vigilance is key. Lastly, it’s great to take in the sights of the city, but be sure to keep your eyes on the road.
When asked, “Is it hard to drive in Chicago?” a seasoned driver will tell you it’s all about your comfort level, so staying in your comfort zone could help make your trip run more smoothly. If you’re still apprehensive, there are a variety of public transportation options to avoid hitting the busy roads yourself, such as rideshares and taxis.
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