Friday, January 22, 2010

Driving In Las Vegas

I had a comment on my post about the rain from a future visitor who is worried about the wet conditions in Las Vegas. First of all, if you're planning a visit here, don't let the rain stop you. You'll still have a great time--heck, lots of visitors never even make it out of the casino to see what the weather is like. Our residents have problems with the wet roadways because we only get about four inches of rain a year. This much rainfall just doesn't happen that often. Most of the time, it's sunny and clear.

With that said, driving in Las Vegas does have its challenges, regardless of the weather. Here are a few suggestions for visitors who will be driving while in town:

First, minimize your time behind the wheel. It's too difficult to see the sights when you're navigating traffic, and we have a lot of sights to see. If you're staying on the Strip or Downtown, you can use the Monorail, bus service, or even take a taxi to get from place to place. When the weather is nice, which it usually is, I've always found it easier to walk down the Strip than to drive. I usually park the car at valet or in a parking garage, and then I'm free to roam inside and outside the casinos.

To see the sights away from the Strip, especially places outside of Las Vegas like Red Rock, Hoover Dam, or Lake Mead, you will need to drive unless you're signed up with a tour company. Get a good map and/or GPS. One of the most confusing things to most out-of-town drivers in Las Vegas is the baffling practice of giving one street several different names. Twain/Sands/Spring Mountain Road is a good example--three names, same street. That's where your map/GPS comes in handy. Just remember that the street name may change without you changing streets.

Second, practice defensive driving. Focus on your driving and stay alert for the actions of the other drivers. Las Vegas drivers tend to speed, tailgate, and run red lights. Don't try the "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" approach. Drive at the speed limit in the middle or right lane, let tailgaters pass you, and take a second look before continuing forward when you have a green light. If it's raining, use extra caution--ditto for rush hour. Practice common-sense, defensive driving, just as you would at home.

Third, watch out for road construction. Although the current economic slowdown has slowed road work, we still have plenty of torn-up streets. Pay attention to those big, flashing arrows warning you to move over a lane. If you wait until the last minute to change lanes, you may find yourself stuck there for a while. Many Las Vegas drivers will not let you over if you wait until the last minute to change lanes because they consider it to be the same thing as cutting places in line.

Most importantly, remember to enjoy your vacation. If driving in Las Vegas is too stressful for you, park the car and take another form of transportation. Remember, the goal of any vacation is to have a good time, not to have road rage.
Photo courtesy of Marcin Jochimczyk at

For more information about what to do while you're visiting Las Vegas, please visit my NileGuide Las Vegas page.

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