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7 Tips to Drive Safely on a Family Road Trip to New York City

Road trips are a great way to spend quality time with your family. You get to explore new places, see new things, and have new experiences that will not only bring you closer, but you will also make memories that will last a lifetime.

But not all road trips are memorable for the right reasons. If you get into an accident, you have to deal with a damaged car, you may have to go home early, or you may find yourself in the emergency room.

Here are seven tips that will help you stay safe on the road if you’re planning a trip to New York City.

Be Aware of the Most Dangerous Intersections

Hitting the open road is one thing. Trying to navigate a busy city, like New York City, when you aren’t familiar with the roads is quite another.

In 2021, nearly 3,000 intersection-related crashes were reported just in the month of February alone.


Not all intersections are created equal. Some are more dangerous than others. Research the area where you’re staying (like the Bronx, Brooklyn, or Manhattan) to see which sections you might want to avoid.

Disable Notifications on Your Phone When Driving

If you’ve got a car full of kids, chances are, you’ve got enough distractions already. Don’t add your phone to the mix.

Constant distractions cause stress, and when you’re driving, that stress can cause you to get into an accident. Do yourself a favor and turn the notifications off on your phone. That way it isn’t dinging every time you get a text message or a response on social media.

Things get a little tricky if you’re using your GPS system. If you need to use your phone’s GPS system, try putting it on airplane mode. It will prevent you from receiving calls and text messages, but it won’t interfere with your phone’s ability to communicate with global positioning satellites, so you can still get to where you need to go.

Set Your GPS Before You Start The Car

GPS systems have made navigating new places so much easier, but they can still be distracting, especially in a big city like NYC. Instead of fumbling with your GPS while you’re in traffic, and increasing your chances of getting into a fender bender, make sure you set your GPS before you even start your car.

You can also take full advantage of everything Google Maps has to offer when you get everything set up ahead of time. It has many tricks, like the ability to plot multiple locations or measure the distance between two locations. That can come in handy, as long as you aren’t fumbling with your phone to figure them out while you’re driving.

Designate a Navigator

GPS systems make it way easier to travel, especially in dense cities like New York City, but that doesn’t mean they’re foolproof. Instead of staring at your phone when you should be staring at the road, designate a navigator to sit in the passenger’s seat.


Your navigator can keep an eye on the GPS system and tell you exactly when to turn or which way to drive. They can tell you how many blocks there are to go, or if there’s a traffic jam ahead, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.

Plan Your Stops Ahead of Time

It can be tempting to drive hour after hour when you’re on a long road trip just so you can get to your final destination quickly. But that can be disastrous. The longer you’re behind the wheel without a break, the harder it is to focus, and the more likely you are to get into an accident.

Plan your stops ahead of time so you aren’t tempted to blast through another hour, even though you could use a break. You can stop at rest stops, but in New York, you should plan to visit a few cool roadside attractions when stretching your legs.

A few fun places to check out include:

  • Nipper, the 28-foot-tall dog on North Broadway
  • The giant garden gnome at Kelder’s Farm on Route 209
  • World’s largest pancake griddle in Penn Yan
  • Shark Girl in Buffalo

Everyone Should Use Headphones

If you have teenagers, chances are, they already live in their headphones, but what if you have little kids under five in the backseat?

Everyone in the car should use headphones, which means getting your toddlers kid-friendly headphones to use on your trip. If they are too little for headphones, or if they refuse to wear them, you should mute the device. It can be extremely distracting to hear sounds and dialog from a tablet in the backseat. And that’s especially true if you have more than one child with their own device.

The only exception is the driver. Drivers should never wear headphones while driving because they interfere with your sense of spatial awareness.

Turn Off the Radio When You Get to the City

Listening to the radio can be a great way to keep you alert while you’re driving, but it can also lead to distracted driving. Distractions on the radio can cause drivers to miss traffic signs and slow their reaction times.

If you’re heading into New York City with the radio blaring, you’re likely to miss your turn, and with so many cars stopping and starting in close proximity, a slower reaction time is more likely to result in an accident.

When you’re on a long stretch of highway, it might be better to have the radio on. Without much to hold your attention around you, it’s easy to lose your focus. The radio can help keep you alert. Just make sure to turn it off when you get close to city limits.

Taking a trip to New York City is something your family will remember for a lifetime. Just make sure they remember it for all the right reasons by staying out of a car accident with the tips on this list.