Driving in America – 8 Things You Should Know!

When driving in the US, there are obvious traffic rules and regulations that are different to what you are used to in your home country, for example if you are used to driving on the left hand side of the road in your home country, driving in America means you must adapt to driving on the right! Check out our brief guide regarding some of the things that you should be aware of when driving in America…

Every State has driving laws that are different:
It is important to be aware that all 50 states in American has their very own set of traffic rules. It’s fair to say that the majority of the traffic regulations don’t vary too much from state to state, but some states have minor differences. Find out more about US State Driving Laws.

State maximum speed limits in the USA:
The maximum driving speed limit in most states in America is 65 miles per hour (approximately 110km per hour) except where signs are indicating slower speeds. It is important to watch your speed, as the limits are strongly monitored by speed radar in many US states.

Minimum driving age in the USA:
16 years old is the minimum driving age in most American states. However, it is important to note that some states do not allow drivers under 18 unrestricted driving time.

Seatbelt requirements:
Driving laws in most states in the USA require both driver and front passengers to wear seat belts. In addition, most states require children to wear seat belts in the back seats. Special child restraints and seats are required by law also. Motorcyclists must wear helmets as defined by law in the majority of states also.

Certain driving laws are very strongly enforced:
Be aware that the speeding limit in front of schools and childrens’ crèches is 15mph when the warning lights flash. By law traffic in both directions must stop for the benefit of a school bus, which has flashing lights. Such rules are strictly set in stone and there are severe penalties for transgressors. And please – do not drink and drive. Drinking and driving is strictly forbidden in all American states.

Use of Radar detectors not allowed:
In order to detect the radar speeding guns, many drivers in the US make use of radar detectors to indicate the presence of the nearest speed radar. Some states allow the use of radar detectors, others do not. It is important to also be aware that some states request that drivers use their car lights during the day when the weather is wet.

Highway system in the USA:
The American road network is a huge system of interstate highways and state roads. There are some major highways in the USA that are toll roads (also known as turnpikes) but most of the highways are free to travel on. 

All of the major interstate highways that travel from the north to the south have been given an odd number and are numbered I-5 along the Pacific Coast to I-95 along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The highways that run east to west are given an even number starting I-8 near the American border with Mexico and I-94 near the Canadian frontier.

Undertaking and General Driving in the USA:
Obviously you have to be on top of the game when driving in a new country, and after an 8 hour flight it can be tough – so maybe get some rest before you hit the road. Remember that it is not illegal in the United States to “undertake” on the freeways, by undertake we mean overtaking on the inside or right hand side. Be prepared for cars coming at you from all sides!

If you are from the UK or Ireland the most obvious difference with driving in the USA is that US drivers drive on the right hand side of the road and you do it from the left side of the car. You will be used to judging the greater distance on your left side but the car width is going to be on your right.

Find out more about Road Language in America.

These are 8 things that you should be aware of when driving in the USA! In such a vast country, the best way to fully appreciate the beauty of it is to hire a car to get around. Check out our Car Hire USA page.

Have you any tips for us regarding driving in the USA? Have you any information on the USA’s road networks or some of the things drivers new to the country should know? Please let us know – as always your comments are most appreciated!



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