Road trips in the USA offer some fabulous fun but there are a few more serious things to consider when taking a trip. If you want to ensure that you’re having the best time out on the open road, then make sure you take a good look at this guide.
Driving in America: Key Rules & Regulations
Driving in the USA comes with all the usual commonsense driving rules you’d find in most countries. However, there are some driving rule nuances in the USA that can throw you off when you first hit the road.
- You will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) and a full valid driving licence at least one year old and be at least 21 years-old.
- You able to drive in the USA with a valid UK driving licence.
- Car insurance will come with your car rental but be clear to what this actually covers you for.
- All passengers in the car must wear seatbelts.
- Safety seats or booster seats must be worn by all children. Due to risks from airbags babies in baby seats must not be put in the front seat facing forward.
- You must have two people or more in freeway high-occupancy lanes during certain hours.
- If a vehicle is stopped on the right-hand shoulder you must move over.
- When stopped by the police pull over and shut the car down. You must then wind down your window and provide evidence of driving licence and car insurance.
- Sit left, drive right!
- No use of phones is permitted, you need to pull over to take a call or get a text.
- Give way to pedestrians on crossways.
- Watch out for ‘no parking’ signs and there are sometimes coloured curbs, red for never, amber for loading.
- Follow instructions on parking meters or risk having your car towed away.
- Drive in right lane when driving slowly.
- White lines separate lanes of traffic traveling the same direction.
- Hashed or broken lines means you may change lanes when it is safe. Solid white lines mean stay in your lane.
- Yellow lines separate traffic moving in opposing directions.
- Hashed or broken yellow lines mean you can carefully pass, paying attention to oncoming traffic. Never cross a solid yellow line (or double yellow line).
- Do not get horny with your horn except in an emergency, better to flash your headlights.
- You can turn right at a red light.
- Most cars are automatic unless you ask the rental company otherwise.
- Be aware of weather conditions before you set out – the USA has a whole load of dangers from snow to flooding.
Speed Limits in the USA
Unless you want to end up with a fine for speeding you must comply to the local speed limits. Generally these are:
- City roads 25-30mph.
- Interstates and freeways 65-85mph.
- School zones 10-25mph.
Toll Roads in the USA
Some roads and bridges have tool fees for use and these can be paid in cash or add a tool payment transponder to your hire car.
Power That Car: Fuel in the USA
Fuel is currently approximately $0,83 per litre with almost all accepting credit cards as well as cash or pay as you go. While for electric vehicles there are plenty of charging points for the green option of driving.
Drink Driving Laws in America
The drink-drive rules vary from state to state but often it is illegal to open alcohol in the car. As in the UK there is zero tolerance to any class of illegal drug whilst driving.
So there it goes for your trip of a wildest dreams without the tears of a rookie. Now take a look at a couple of recommended itineraries:
Driving in the USA FAQ
Given its modern infrastructure, huge lanes and grid systems, driving in America is very simple in general.
Yes, in some situations you can turn right on a red light in America. Make sure you keep an eye out for signalling.
85mph is the highest speed limit in America, though is only allowed in specific highway areas, such as areas outside Austin, Texas.