How to Drive on NYC Highways Safely (Even If You Are a New Driver)

January 14, 2020

Even after mastering highway driving lessons, it’s always nerve racking to drive on NYC highways for the first time. That’s why it’s advisable that new drivers start by navigating the local roads before moving to the busy highways.

Here are highway driving tips that a new driver needs to consider before driving along the New York highways.

How Do You Drive on the Highway?

There are three main stages of highway driving:

1. Entering the highway

2. Driving on the highway

3. Exiting the highway

1. Entering the highway

A mistake most people do is to enter the highway at the wrong speed. By the end of the on-ramp, your speed should be similar to that of the flow of traffic.

Obviously, if the traffic is bumper to bumper, you won’t be going very fast, but if the freeway is going at 60 miles an hour, you want to be at that speed by the time you enter the freeway.

Be sure to check the rearview mirror, signal, side mirror, and look over your shoulder. If it’s clear, go ahead and position yourself right in the gap.

2. Driving on the highway

Now that you are on the highway, which lane should you use?

In general, the lane farthest to the right is the slow or exit lane. The middle lanes are those where most of the traffic is flowing. The lane farthest to the left is the passing lane with faster moving traffic.

Is Passing on the Right Illegal in New York?

Lane laws vary from state to state. In New York, the law permits driving on the right side, and to pass other vehicles, you should do so on the left. You are allowed to pass vehicles on the right under certain circumstances and you should only do that when it’s necessary and safe.

Before changing lanes, you should always signal with your turn signals or hand at least 100 feet before changing the lane. The law doesn’t allow you to pass a motor vehicle that has stopped near a crosswalk to let people walk across.

To learn more on how to pass on the left, or right side of the road, check out DMV’s chapter 6 on passing.

3. Exiting the Highway

You should get into the exit lane a mile or half a mile before the exit. Start by looking into your rearview, side view, and your blind spot and if all looks good, turn on signals and merge into the exit lane.

When you are firmly into the exit lane, you can turn your signals off. Decelerate whether you’re coming to a stop sign, stop light, or just merging onto a different freeway, you’ve to judge what speed to go with.

Join Pierre Paul Driving to learn practical highway driving lessons and drive anywhere in NYC. Once you get it right with us, you can’t go wrong when driving on your own.

Quick Tips to Guarantee Your Safety during Highway Driving

Beware of Construction Zones

Typically, in construction zones, the speed limit changes quickly from, say, 70 mph to 40 mph to help keep the construction workers safe. It’s also a place where an officer can be hiding to give you a double ticket because first, it’s a construction zone and second, for over speeding. Also, in a construction zone, you may need to keep the headlights on.

Choose the Right Time for Driving on the Highways

When planning to drive on the highways for the first time, it’s best to choose the ideal place and time. You may want to start off on a highway with less traffic, or at a time of the day when there are less drivers on the highway. It’s also critical that you drive on a clear day when there’s no rain, fog, or snow that may affect visibility.

Leave Space In front of You When Changing Lanes

When it comes to changing lanes on the highway, distance and speed are critical. When maneuvering, it’s recommended that you leave a space of four to six seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Leaving more space gives you adequate time to avoid a possible collision or react to any debris along the highway. Besides, routinely check the blind spot, side-view, and rear-view mirrors before switching lanes.

Start in the Right Lane

When driving on the major NYC highways for the first time, be sure to stay on the right lane. It’s common to see your drivers move to the left lane that’s meant for passing.

Keep driving in the right lane and you’ll find it easy to maintain your speed there and interact with traffic that comes onto the freeway.

Use Turn Signals

When driving on the highway, it’s important to get into the habit of using turn signals. These signals help other drivers to know the direction you intend to turn. It also lets other drivers know what they should do with regard to the other vehicles on the road.

In 2018, the New York State Police had to issue 15,217 tickets against violations of section 1163 law, which includes failure to signal, and not signaling from 100 feet or more before a driver makes a turn. Following these rules can get you awarded two points on your license.

The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), which is affiliated to the State University of New York, reports that in 2018 alone, New York encountered 542 crushes caused by turn signal violations.  

For most vehicles, the turn signals are found on a shorter lever connected to the steering wheel column. To indicate a right-hand turn, pull the lever down to activate the right side signals. On the other hand, before making a left-hand turn, pull the lever up to activate the left side signals.

When Should You Use Turn Signals?

You can use a turn signal when:

  • Changing lanes
  • Making a right-or left-hand turn at an intersection
  • Pulling over toward the side of the road
  • Parking your vehicle on the side of a street
  • Entering a parking lot or driveway on either side of the highway
  • Passing another motor vehicle on the road
  • Entering a roadway as you merge with traffic

Even when there are no pedestrians or other vehicles, just use the turn signals. There could be traffic you can’t see, and using your blinkers can prevent an accident.  

The chapter 5 of the DMV website explains how to prepare and make turns at intersections. You can also master highway driving lessons by learning from one of the best driving schools in NYC.

At Pierre Paul Driving, we provide practical lessons to our students so they understand how to use turns and avoid traffic violations. Contact us to take your driving schools to a new level.

Keep a Wider Viewpoint

When driving on highways, most new drivers often stare at what’s in front of them. While that’s good, the highway unpredictability and speeds usually require a broader viewpoint.

Thus, you should look right in front of your vehicle, but also into the rear-view and farther down the highway. In other words, you should constantly adjust your observation points.

Keep Your Cool While on the Highway

Mastering highway driving lessons in NYC goes beyond proper driving. It’s also about keeping the young driver’s maturity level in check.

While on driving a highway, don’t take anything personally. For example, if a driver cuts you off, you should let it go, as you don’t know the person’s mental state. Besides, everyone makes mistakes, anyway and drivers aren’t that perfect.

At Pierre Paul Driving, we teach both teens and adult drivers on how to handle different situations on the road and keep their cool. Learn with us and you will find driving a fun adventure. Enroll today.

Avoid Distractions When Driving on NYC Highways

Studies show that distracted driving is common among teen drivers. According to estimates by federal studies, more than 3,000 persons die yearly due to distracted driving.

For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 9 percent of the fatal crashes that occurred in 2017 were attributed to distraction. And 3,166 individuals died in crashes involving distracted driving. Out of this number, 599 people were non-occupants, including cyclists, pedestrians, and others.

Given these alarming statistics, it’s critical that drivers focus on the road when driving. Don’t text, talk on phone, take selfies, or try to change music while driving on a NY highway.

It’s not only dangerous to do so while driving, but it’s also against the driving laws in New York. For nearly 20 years now, drivers aren’t allowed to talk on hand-held phones. Besides, texting while driving was also banned 10 years ago.

Top 3 Common Distractions among Teen Drivers


Teens enjoy rolling with the entire squad. But this is not safe as accidents can easily occur when a teen is riding with peers in the same vehicle.

What to do: Don’t let your teen drive their friends until they’ve been driving for at least one year.


For most teens, smartphones constantly take away their attention. So, obviously, nothing good is likely to happen if they use their phones while on the road.

What to do: Don’t allow your teen to use a phone while driving. If they must use it, let them park the car and finish calling or texting before driving. In fact, many apps can help with that.


Road and music are a perfect combination, right? However, trying to switch channels or songs, or reaching for a device that plays music can distract you from the road.

What to do: If your teen likes car music, let them mix one playlist on a device in advance, or select a radio station and stick with it. Also, turn down the volume so you can hear emergency vehicles and car horns.

To ensure your teen doesn’t get distracted while driving, you should consider taking them for driver education in a reputable driving school in Brooklyn.


NYC highways are some of the busiest and it’s important to observe the above tips. At Pierre Paul Driving, we care about your safety and that of your family when on the road. That’s why we provide highway driving lessons in NYC. Contact us today for free consultation.