Driving is on the right with the steering wheel being on the left hands side of the car. The rules of the road can vary from state to state. Ask our representatives about laws particular to the state you are in.
General advice is to remember that when stop lights go from red to yellow this does not mean you should go, wait for green. There are usually turn signals at junctions but in the absence of signals you can turn right on red as long as there are no cars coming from the right. You can never turn left or right on a red arrow.
Watch out for four way intersections where all cars must stop. The car which got to the intersection first may go, followed by the next cars to arrive. You cannot overtake a school bus if red lights are flashing on it. Undertaking is not illegal in America so watch out for this. It makes signalling before changing lanes all the more important. If you are pulled over stay in your car until the policeman arrives at the window and keep your hands visible at all times. Most cars in America are automatic. Most of the roads are excellent but watch out for the occasional pothole and piece of debris from a passing truck. Be careful if you find yourself in 'bad neighbourhoods' where carjacking can occur. For more driving rules look at http://www.hsmv.state.fl.us, which is used for the US driving test.
Contact the emergency services and your rental company. Exchange information with the other driver such as your address and insurance details. It could be a good idea to take photos of the scene if you have a camera handy. Wait for the police to arrive before moving the car. If you are in a minor accident it may be OK to move your car to a safe place at the side of the road to avoid any further collisions. File an accident report at your local police station.
All passengers including children must wear seatbelts. Call us if you need special child seats ahead of time.
The major interstate highways that travel from north to south are odd numbered, i.e I-5 along the Pacific Coast and I-95 on the Atlantic Ocean coast. Highways which run east to west are even numbered, i.e I-94 near the Canadian frontier and I-8 near Mexican border. You should be prepared for the fact that some motorways have six or even eight lanes.
Prices vary from state to state and from station to station. The lowest price of gas in Baker County Florida is $2.49. The price of gas in Washington DC is anything between $2.57 – 3.39. Check www.gasbuddy.com for detailed information.
It varies from state to state but is always strictly enforced and the drinking limit is as low as 0.05% in some states. Your best bet is to avoid alcohol if you are driving. Do not have any open alcohol in the car either.
Your driving licence, international driving permit and all car hire documents. You should always have photo ID on you in the states.
As a tourist your driving licence is valid in most states for up to a year. You can also get an international driving permit which translates your driving licence info into 10 languages. Apply before you go and you will also need to produce your official driving licence if asked.
Motorway – Freeway
Toll Road –Turnpike
Petrol – Gasoline
Excess – Deductible (insurance)
Gearbox – Transmission
SUV –Sports utility vehicle
Boot – Trunk
Pavement - Kerb
Bonnet – Hood
Bumper – Fender
Detour – Diversion
Indicators - Blinkers
There are plenty of toll roads, also known as turnpikes, so always keep some US change handy. Credit and debit cards are accepted at some but not all toll booths.
The maximum speed limit in most states is 65 miles per hour. This is often enforced by radar gun. Radar detectors are illegal.
The speed limit in front of schools and creches is 15 mph when warning lights are flashing. Speeding around road works is viewed very badly. Unpaid speeding or parking tickets will be sent to you at home via your rental agency.
The conversion from kilometers to miles per hour is one kilometer = 0.62 miles per hour. 65mph is 110 kilometres per hour.
Most hire car companies require you to be over 25 years of age with some driving experience, although the actual driving age is only 16. The rental companies which do rent to younger drivers may charge you more for your insurance. Some rental agencies will not rent to person over 71.
The emergency services are on 911. In most states you can call 511 to get up to date travel information depending on where you are. The British Embassy is located at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008 and can be called on 1 202 588 6500. Other embassies are also located in Washington DC.
Most states operate the same as in the UK regarding parking, though many malls have free parking. By contacting the tourist board for the state and area you are visiting you can sometimes find out about cheaper parking alternatives to where you are staying and save yourself money. You should not park on the wrong side of the road facing oncoming traffic. Do not park at a pavement which is painted yellow as this is for emergency vehicle access such as fire engines. Check nearby signs for limitations such as zoning restrictions, scheduled street sweeping, snow emergency routes, and reservations for nearby places of business.