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Driving in New York

Updated Oct 05 2014 04:43 PM EST with 16 listings
This page contains local departments of motor vehicles (DMV). Local traffic reports are provided by the following local websites.
Driving in New York

Driving Information Sources (7 listings total)

Don't Drive in Manhattan

Driving and parking within Manhattan is an expensive way to get around. Use taxis, car services, buses and subways. Parking rules are complex, paid parking in mid-town starts at $8.50 for 30 minutes. Driving up and down town is usually slower than taking the subway, and traffic barely moves during rush hour. Masses of pedestrians, aggressive cab-drivers from distant places, triple-parked trucks, wrong-way bike messengers and the infamous "gridlock" require nerves of steel. Gas stations are difficult to find in Manhattan. Ride - don't drive - but if you must drive, here are some hints. (See also AUTOMOBILE RENTAL for rental requirements and for gasoline).

The preliminaries for foreign visitors

  • 1. All traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road.
  • 2. All distances are given in miles.
    1 mile = 1.66 kilometers
  • 3. All speed limits are given in miles-per-hour (mph): 30 mph = 50 kilometers per hour
    55 mph = 91 kilometers per hour.
  • 4. Gasoline is sold by the US gallon and is (much) cheaper than in other countries.
    1 U.S. gallon = 3.79 liters
    1 U.S. gallon = 0.832 British gallons.

Licenses, Age and Insurance

Visitors need to have a valid driver's licenses issued by their state or country of residence. International Driver's Licenses are not valid. The age requirement for driving in New York is 16 years. If you plan to become a resident of New York State, you are required to get a New York State Drivers License from the New York State Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Drivers must carry auto registration or rental contract and proof of automobile insurance at all times. Drivers must have proof of insurance and liability insurance. Coverage must be a minimum of $25,000 for injury, $50,000 for death and $10,000 for property damage arising from an accident.


Get info on car pooling.
Tel 80034637433
Website: metropool.com

New York City Speedtraps

Short list of common NYC speedtraps for those of us who like to live life in the fast lane, courtesy of Speedtrap.com.
Website: speedtrap.com

New York State Department of Moter Vehicles

official New York site of the dmv
Website: nydmv.state.ny.us

NY Cabbie

Website devoted to NYC taxi drivers. Features photographs by a NYC cab driver, tips, taxi stories, & helpful information for tourists & residents.
E-mail: nycabbie@nycabbie.com; Website: nycabbie.com


Site on the current state and history of all major roads and exits in NYC.
Website: nycroads.com

Driving/traffic Regulations (2 listings total)

Although you might not guess it by the way New Yorkers drive, there are laws that govern the flow of traffic. You should obey them as the city is now enforcing these laws with some regularity. The most important of these are:

  • It is illegal to drive a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Fines and penalties for drinking and driving are extremely severe in New York. Do not do it. If your blood alcohol is 0.10% you are considered &quotdrunk" and unable to drive.
  • &quotDon't block the box" means do not enter an intersection until you have a clear path all the way through it. If the light turns red and you are stuck in the middle of the intersection (the &quotbox") you can be ticketed with a moving violation and suffer the anger and epithets of the drivers you blocked. Particularly important &quotboxes" are marked by a grid of white lines.
  • No right turns at red lights, except where a sign clearly states that a turn is permitted. (Outside NYC, it is legal to turn right on red after coming to a full stop.)
  • Speed limits: The maximum speed limit on major expressways in New York City is 55 miles per hour (mph) (100 kph), but traffic often moves faster. Often the police will not stop you if you are going with the flow of the traffic (but not faster). Speed limits in the city range from 25mph in residential areas to 35mph on major streets. If not posted, it is 30 mph.
  • Signal before turning or changing lanes. This is often not in New York, but the police can and will ticket you for it.
  • Yield to all pedestrians, even if you have a green light.
  • One way streets. Most streets in New York are "one-way," which means traffic only flows in one direction. They usually alternate in direction. Each one-way street has signs clearly showing which way traffic flows. Pay close attention to them.
  • Parking. Nearly impossible in the city! See PARKING for a much more detailed explanation. Parking regulations are strictly enforced and illegally parked cars are frequently towed away. Do not park in spaced marked with the blue sign "For Disabled": you are subject to a heavy fine.
  • Seat Belt Law.Seat belts must be worn in the front seat and by children ages 4-10 in the back set. All children under the age of 4 years must use child safety seats. Car seats are available from car rental agencies. Not only is it a law, but they are also very effective in reducing injuries.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Data from independent crash tests- CR May 2000
Website: highwaysafety.org

Parking Calendar NYC

Gives the exact dates that alternate side of the street parking regulations (necessary for street cleaning) are suspended. These are the days that you can park on both sides of the street.
Website: ci.nyc.ny.us

Department Of Motor Vehicles (5 listings total)

Department of Motor Vehicles

Tel 212-645-5550
Tel: 718-966-6155; TTY Line ( Deaf ): 800-368-1186
E-mail: nydmv@dmv.state.ny.us; Website: nydmv.state.ny.us

Department of Motor Vehicles - CivicCenter

Drivers licenses, registration of automobiles & other motor vehicles..
155 Worth St., CivicCenter NY 10013 Tel 212-645-5550
Tel: 718-966-6155; Spanish Speaking: 212-645-6230

Department of Motor Vehicles - Harlem

2110 A. Clayton Powell Jr, Blvd., Harlem NY 10027 at 126th St., Tel 212-645-5550
Tel: 718-966-6155

Department of Motor Vehicles - Midtown South

1293 Broadway, Midtown South NY 10001 betw W.33rd & W.34th St, Tel 212-645-5550
Tel: 718-966-6155

Department of Motor Vehicles -- License X-Press Office

License & registration renewals & duplicate, & license plate surrenders ONLY.
300 W. 34th St., Chelsea NY 10001 Tel 212-645-5550
Tel: 718-966-6155

Traffic Reports (2 listings total)

A number of radio stations broadcast traffic information about every 10 minutes including CBS 880 on AM radio and WINS News at 1010 on AM radio. Channel 17 broadcasts traffic reports continuously on TV.
TYPHint: "Gridlock." Some holidays with parades, the Christmas season and visits by the President or foreign dignitaries cause major traffic jams in Manhattan because of the traffic volume or street closings. The city issues a "gridlock day warning" asking people not to drive into the city. A "gridlock" occurs when there are so many cars that no traffic can move because all the streets are filled. If you "block the box" on a gridlock altert day, you will definitely get a ticket.

SmarTraveler is a great resource for commuters and those who are fighting against the day's traffic. Detailed information is given for traffic on NYC bridges, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and transit updates.


Stay out of gridlock, get regular traffic reports at this website.
Website: gridlocksam.com

NBC-4 Traffic Cams

The NBC-4 SkyCam on the Web is a network of cameras throughout the Tri-State area that will help you avoid traffic. The cameras provide pictures 24 hours a day.
Website: wnbc.com

Driver's Licenses

To get a full New York State Driver's license, you must be 18 years old, pass an eye test, pass a written test on rules, and pass a driving skills test. You must bring your birth certificate or similar proof of your birthday, proof of residence (usually mail to your house), and either your Social Security card or a letter from the US Social Security Administration stating your ineligibility for a Social Security number. You will have your photo taken with a digital camera and sign your name on a digital pad. You will receive a temporary license. The permanent license, good for five years, will be sent to your home address within 4 weeks. Call the specific DMV you will be going to for more information.

When you are 16 years old, you can get a learner's permit and daytime license.

The New York Driver's License is the preferred identification for many purposes including legal age for drinking, smoking, etc., and cashing checks.
TYPHint: Even if you do not drive, you can get an identity card from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles which is accepted in lieu of a driver's license for identification purposes.

In New York, your Driver's license can be suspended or revoked for a variety of reasons including too many driving violations (speeding, going through stop signs, etc., but not parking violations) and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.