Our comprehensive list of everything tourists and transplants need to know about surviving the D.C. commute.Every year, hundreds of thousands of people move to the DMV. Whether they are involved in politics, moving to one of the region's many military bases, or just looking to start a new life here, the learning curve can be a little steep. There is no manual handed out to teach people how to integrate into the DMV. Most people just have to figure it out as they go along. So we've compiled a list -- with some help from our followers on social media -- of all the things that newcomers to the DMV should know about commuting into, out of, and around the District of Columbia. 1. DMV stands for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, not the Department of Motor Vehicles. -- This suggestion came from Tara Pavao on Facebook. 2. No, the D.C. commute traffic doesn't get better. If you're going to drive to work, get used to sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Also remember that everyone on the road or highway also has a place to be and is just as frustrated at the traffic. 3. Government motorcades and other road closures will make you late. Even when you think that you've got your D.C. commute timing down to a science, there will be a presidential motorcade or some other road closure that will make you late. This is just part and parcel of living in the area. Paying attention to announced presidential trips or state dinners, however, can give you a heads-up on when VIPs will likely be rolling through the city. [caption id="attachment_5138" align="aligncenter" width="414"] Just when you think you'll make it to your destination on time, the president or vice president will appear out of nowhere.[/caption] 4. Friday afternoons and Tuesday mornings are the absolute worst traffic in Washington, D.C. Plan your commute accordingly. 5. If you live outside D.C., you are going to need to get in your car before 6 a.m. to beat the morning rush. 6. The after-work rush "hour" can begin as early as 3 p.m. and even run to 6:30 or 7 p.m. 7. "Rubber-necking" is when a driver turns his or her head to look at something and inadvertently causes congestion by slowing down to get a better look. Don't be a rubber-necker. There are plenty of real traffic jams; we don't need people creating any more. 8. Toll lanes can significantly cut down on D.C. commute time, but the tolls add up really quickly. Try the toll lanes out and make a determination of whether the price is worth the time saved before you get into a habit of always turning into toll lanes.
9. Get used to the rules surrounding carpool and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, including when they are in effect. Yes, you will get pulled over if you use them without enough people in the car, and yes, you can save a lot of time and money on your D.C. commute by carpooling with friends and co-workers. 10. Turn signals are there for a reason. Please use them. 11. Speed and traffic cameras are literally everywhere. Pay extra attention to red lights and posted speed limits and spare yourself the $75 ticket in the mail. 12. Get used to using navigating traffic circles (also known as rotaries). Washington, D.C.'s streets were designed by French city planner Pierre L'Enfant, and he must have loved circles because there are traffic circles everywhere. 13. One thing that L'Enfant got right is how he designated road names. Numbered roads run north-to-south and the numbers increase the farther away you get from the Capitol building (i.e. 40th street is farther away from the Capitol than 10th Street). Alphabetical roads run east-to-west. If you find yourself on a street named after one of the country's 50 states, know that it runs diagonally through the city's grid system. [caption id="attachment_5136" align="aligncenter" width="423"] Learn the grid.[/caption] 14. The District of Columbia is broken up into four quadrants: NW, NE, SW, and SE D.C. You'll see the quadrant listed at the end of street addresses since many streets run through multiple quadrants. 15. Don't buy into the meteorologists' hype. A small snow or rain storm is not the end of the world, and you don't need to drive 20 miles per hour under the speed limit just because you turned your windshield wipers on. 16. At the same time, realize that D.C. drivers are notoriously bad at driving during inclement weather and keep your wits about you whenever the barometer falls during your D.C. commute. 17. If you aren't already proficient, learn how to parallel park. It'll save you a lot of money in the longterm over lot parking. Also, get to know what spots you can and cannot fit into. 18. Pay extra attention to signage when you park on the street. It is way too easy to accidentally illegally park in D.C.
Click over to the next page to learn the do's and dont's of Metro riding!19. If you see a meter that is painted red in D.C., this is a designated handicapped spot. Don't park there unless you have a handicapped placard or license plate. 20. If you can, take the Metro. Not only will it cut down on your D.C. commute time, especially during rush hour, but it will take one more car off the streets. 21. The "rules" of the Metro escalators are pretty simple: walk on the left and stand on the right. People don't care that this system is actually less efficient; that is just how it is. 22. Remember that the Metro shuts down ridiculously early: 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 11/11:30 p.m. all other days. 23. Have your Metro card handy when moving through the station. Not only will you save time by not fumbling for your card, but everyone behind you will get where they need to go faster as well. 24. Don't try to hold the Metro train doors open for someone. This isn't an elevator. The doors will close down on your hand, arm, leg, or foot and will not bounce back open. -- This suggestion came from Rachel Goodling on Facebook. [caption id="attachment_5137" align="aligncenter" width="412"] These doors are not your friends.[/caption] 25. Keep your valuables close. Like any major city, theft is a problem on public transportation. 26. You're not allowed to eat on the Metro, and yes, that rule is sometimes enforced. I have yet to see anyone get fined for eating on the subway, but I have heard of people being forced to throw away their food before a Metro employee would let him through the turnstile. 27. Riding a bicycle around D.C. can be one of the fastest and most affordable ways to travel through the city. 28. If you're going to bike, get used to using the bike lanes around the city and stay off the pedestrian sidewalks. Yes, D.C. police do pull over bicyclists. 29. Don't own a bike? Get to know where the BikeShare stations are around the city, and you can affordably rent a bike to get you from A to B. Though, in the longterm, buying your own bike will likely be more affordable. 30. Expand how long of a distance you are willing to walk. Coming out of a Wizards game last year, a friend of mine decided to take a cab to the bar we were meeting some people at 10 blocks away. I decided to walk. Guess who got there first? It's easy to get sucked into using a cab to go a few blocks, but your wallet will thank you for walking.
31. Lastly, not all D.C. airports are created equal. Even if you can get a better fare flying into or out of Dulles, know that you will probably give those savings back in the commute, either in cab fare or by sacrificing your time. It can take upwards of an hour and a half to get from Dulles Airport to the District during rush hour. 32. Driving to catch a flight out of BWI may sound doable on paper, but it can be a real nightmare. 33. That being said, if your flight gets cancelled in Dulles or Reagan, tell the gate attendant you are willing to fly out of BWI as long as the airline provides a cab voucher and upgrades you to first class. This has happened to me twice, and while the drive to Baltimore was not very fun, flying across country in first class was definitely worth it. 33.5. Last bit of advice: If this happens to you and you do get upgraded to a first class ticket out of BWI, call up the airline when you're in the cab and ask for them to refund your previous checked or carry-on baggage charges. First class tickets come with free baggage and when the airline cancels your original reservation, you are technically owed that baggage refund. You might have to talk to a supervisor over the phone, but a little persistence -- and maybe even a casual threat of a chargeback -- can save you a fair amount of money. Well, how did we do? Let us know in the comment section below what you want added to the list of tips to survive a D.C. commute!