Traffic Mistakes that can Lead to Tickets for Tourists in NYC

Traveling to different parts of the world, even within the United States can be a culture shock. Some places speak different languages, while others simply do everything differently. New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Over 60 million people visit New York every year, and the number is rising. With that sheer amount of people walking, biking, driving, and riding around, traffic is horrendous. Everything involving roads is more complicated in NYC. From parking to turning, driving is something most tourists want to avoid altogether.

If you do insist on driving or renting a car on your visit to NYC, keep reading. There are thousands of mistakes that can be made and thousands more that will result in a hefty ticket. With questions about purchasing temporary car insurance, parking on the street, or just using the subway, we compiled some of the worst traffic mistakes you can make while visiting NYC to help you out. 

Renting a Car

First, let’s start by stating that an NYC tourist should probably never rent a car at all. Driving in NYC is not a joke. The stereotypes and old wives’ tales are true. With millions of drivers on the road, you cannot afford to make any mistakes. Rental cars are never cheap, but even if you can get a good deal on one, driving around will probably still cost you money. Gas is more expensive than anywhere in the country, and tickets are handed out more in NYC than any other city. 

Not Using Public Transit

Along with renting a car, not using public transit would be a huge mistake. The subway system was built to take congestion away from the roads of the city. While it has done its job to a certain extent, car traffic is still at epic proportions throughout New York State. In 2019, three NYC roads topped the list of “Most Congested Roads in America.” If you’re a tourist heading into the city for the first time, taking buses, tours, or the subway from place to place can be your best friend. 

Parking By Fire Hydrants or Crosswalks

You may be wondering why this is so far ahead of many other mistakes tourists need to avoid. The reason is that parking in NYC is worse than driving. If you think getting from place to place is hard within the city limits, try parking next to the place you’re going. Plan ahead of time for at least a ten-minute walk to wherever you’re headed. 

With that being said, most people know you shouldn’t park right by fire lanes and fire hydrants. Emergency Firemen need all the help they can, and parking in these marked areas is not only offensive and outright wrong but will also land you a ticket upwards of $350. 

Crosswalks are also essential to avoid. With millions of pedestrians running around the city, you may find a spot that is just over the top of a crosswalk. Avoid it at all costs. It’s not a matter of if you get a ticket; it’s a matter of when you get a ticket. 

NYC Police boosted its traffic enforcement when the school year started back up also. As if they weren’t handing out enough tickets, enforcement is only getting heavier. 

Hailing a Cab in Rush Hour

Only tourists are guilty of doing this (and I’m one of them). There’s a rule of the city about never entering cabs when it’s rush hour. Most cabs will have passengers in them already, but hailing a cab causes accidents and backups even worse than before. 

You can now be ticketed by a police officer as well. If an officer sees you hailing a cab during rush hour, you could receive a $100 fine. There’s a ton of obscure traffic tickets written in NYC, and the more informed you are, the better off you’ll be as a pedestrian.

Turning Right on Red

One of the only places in the entire country that you cannot turn right on red is in New York City. In almost every other city and town, no matter the size, turning right on red after a stop is perfectly legal. This isn’t the case in New York City. 

The rule came into effect in 2007, making it illegal to take a right on red within the five boroughs of NYC. According to, the law was made to improve travel time and increase safety. For tourists especially, this may be a considerable change. If you’re driving through the city, remember not to take a right on red, or you’ll be going home with a ticket. 

Blocking Intersections

This rule should be known by every driver who has ever taken a driver’s test or attended a class, but of course, it happens every day. In New York City, it is essential that traffic flow to the best of its ability. It is already the worst place to drive in the country, making it worse is a no-no. 

Blocking intersections is illegal across every state in the U.S., but in NYC, it will not be overlooked like it is in other states. To keep traffic flowing correctly, wait before the line even if the light ahead of you is green. 

Texting & Driving 

The laws against texting while driving should go without being said, but once again, the American people insist on not listening. While people have been injured or killed, we still continue to text and drive. 

There has been a crackdown on enforcing these laws with the coming of 2020, but in New York City, they don’t take it lightly, and never will. Tickets for texting while driving in NYC can cost you up to $400 within the city limits. While you should never use your phone while you drive, be sure to put it down while you’re in NYC. 


New York City is an enormous place filled with magical sights and advanced technology. From the Brooklyn Bridge to the Empire State Building, traffic is another sight to see. If you’re thinking of visiting, skip renting a car or driving at all. Fly in or leave your car outside the city. Trust me–there’s no need for more cars in NYC.

Author Bio:

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Ethan Lichtenberg is a writer for and other top car insurance comparison sites. He enjoys reading Fredrik Backman and sneaking off to the beach every chance he gets.

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