Saturday, 15 June 2013

How to Drive in the USA

How to Drive in the USA

If you are visiting the United States from another country and you are accustomed to different traffic signals and patterns, this short article will give you some basic guidelines for driving in the United States. If you live in the UK or another country where cars drive on the left-hand side of the road, you may need to acclimate yourself to the difference. In addition, there are a number of other differences that can catch non-US residents by surprise.

For starters, be sure to familiarize yourself with the licensing and insurance requirements. If you plan to rent a car, investigate the cost of taking out an insurance policy before your trip. Rental car companies offer insurance coverage, but it is almost always higher in price than the insurance that you carry. Depending on your country of origin, you may be able to use your current car insurance policy for travel abroad, but don’t depend on that. Check with your current insurance company to find out the details. Also, you may need an International Driving Permit. The United States does not issue International Driving Permits to visitors, so you will need to handle this before arriving in the United States.

Research the specific traffic laws of the states that you will be travelling in. Traffic laws are not the same in all 50 states, but most major regulations are the same from state to state. For example, highway speed limits can range from 55 to 70 miles per hour. (The state of Montana does not have speed limits on some roads!) Most states have “open container” laws, meaning that if anyone riding in the car has an open bottle of beer or other alcoholic beverage, you can be arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI)—even if you haven’t had anything to drink. Finally, some states have strict laws about driving in the left lane of the highway. The left lane is considered to be the “passing lane,” meaning that you should not stay in the left lane for an extended amount of time unless you are passing someone.

If you are accustomed to driving in cities or towns that use roundabouts, you will find these intersections less common in the United States. American roads typically use four-way intersections. This type of intersection is indicated by a stop sign with a small sign underneath it, bearing the words “4-Way” or “All Way.” At a four-way intersection, the first car that arrived at the intersection has the right of way. If two cars arrive at the same time, the car on the right is allowed to proceed first. If the “4-Way” or “All Way” sign is not present, you must come to a complete stop and wait until the intersection is clear to proceed. You will also occasionally see five-point intersections in some cities (where five different roads intersect in one place). Yield signs are also common, particularly on highway on-ramps. A yield sign requires you to yield the right of way to opposing traffic, but it does not require you to stop.

Most drivers find that driving in the USA is relatively easy to get used to, especially since American cars most often come equipped with automatic transmission. Once you have gotten used to the differences on the roadways, you will find your U.S. road trip to be a stress-free and fun experience.

This article was written by Andrew Dean of National Transport, LLC, a leader in the US car shipping industry. You can view additional articles at their blog, or you can become a fan of their Facebook page to keep up with the latest transportation/travel news from around the country.

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