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Driving in the USA

Home of the 2003 Women's Football World Cup

If you’ve got time up your sleeve, hitting the open road is a wonderful way to take in some of the USA’s most spectacular and diverse landscapes. Drivers here tend to respect the road rules and their fellow drivers, which should make your trip even more enjoyable. Most car rentals are automatic transmission.

Key rules, regulations and things to know

Drive on the right overtake on the left. Make sure you park to the right, so that you’re not facing traffic.

In towns and cities that have hills like San Francisco you must by law park with your front wheels facing inwards into the curb. See also Parking regulations

Stick to the speed limit. Not only is it safer to do so, but it’s not unusual for Highway Patrol to hide in bushes to catch speeding motorists unawares.

Plan your route using road numbers and compass directions. In many cases, this is all you’ll see on signs, rather than street or town names.

Watch out for High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. They’re restricted to vehicles carrying a minimum number of passengers. Penalties for using them illegally can be high.

You can turn right at red traffic lights in most (not all!) states, unless signs tell you otherwise. But you’ll need to come to a complete stop and ensure the road is clear before you do so.

The driver who gets to a junction first has right of way, unless traffic lights or signs indicate otherwise. If two or more drivers arrive a junction at the same time, give way to the right.

Pedestrians at marked crossings have right of way. Driving over a pedestrian crossing if people are already on it or waiting to cross is illegal.

Speeds and distances on road signs appear in miles. Not kilometres.

Speed limit minimums and maximums vary across the 50 states. Highway speeds can range from 55 miles per hour to 75, while city driving and neighborhood traffic can dip to 25 miles per hour or lower. Signs are posted in most populated areas, but you can always ask your car rental agency or motor club about specific questions.

Mobile Phones / Cell Phones: Many states ban the use of hand held mobile phones whilst driving. Even in those states people still use them! For regulations on the use of these click on the image below from the Governors Highway Safety Association - GHSA Don't risk using a mobile phone as you can receive a heavy fine in most countries and more important cause a serious accident.

Parking regulations are varied across the states. Parking lots can be metered, carry a flat fee, or come free to everyone. Streetside parking is common, but hard to come by in the more populated cities. Parallel parking is also common, but not nearly as common as you might be used to in other countries. Check the posted signage for limitations, which can include zoning restrictions, scheduled street-sweeping, snow emergency routes, and reservations for nearby places of business.

Don’t park in the following places: disabled spaces (unless you’re authorised to do so), in front of red or yellow kerbs, on a white line at a bus stop or within 10 feet either side of a fire hydrant.

Number Plates: In some states Louisiana for example do not have registration plates on the front. Others like Texas, California and where this Enterprise rental car came from Missouri have them on both the front and rear.

Seat belts must be worn by the driver and all passengers at all times. And if you’re travelling with a baby or young child, make sure they’re travelling in an approved car or booster seat.

Drink and Driving: Penalties for driving over the limit are harsh, so it’s best to avoid alcohol completely if you’re driving. Limit is 0.08 More information Here

You can overtake to the left or right on most multi-lane routes. This means your car can be overtaken from the left or right, too.

Look out for stationery school buses with flashing lights. It’s illegal to overtake them.

Give way to traffic joining expressways. It’s common practice in many states for drivers to join expressways without stopping.

Know when your exits are coming up on expressways. Unlike many other countries, there are often no signs to warn you when you’re approaching an exit.

Exit lanes on freeways and expressways can be on the left or right. If you want to travel straight through, you’ll need to stay in the middle lane(s).

The USA is famous for its interstate highways so be prepared for long, straight drives across open country, interrupted by areas of dense urban traffic. Six- and eight-lane highways can be nerveracking for drivers not accustomed to so much traffic, so again, take it slow and stick to the slower lanes on the right. Interstate highways that run north-south have odd numbers, while east-west highways carry even numbers. Remember that some parts of the country are desert or mountain wildernesses and can be dangerous if you and your vehicle are not prepared for the prevailing conditions.

It is a good idea to ask ahead about toll roads, these are often called "turnpikes." Most issue tickets at your point of entry and assess the toll at your point of exit, with the amount determined by your length of travel. Credit and debit cards are accepted at some toll booths, but not all.

You will find that most US hire cars are automatics - brushing up on the technique before you go may be useful.

Smoking in cars: From 1st October 2015 drivers in England and Wales will be banned from smoking in cars carrying children under the age of 18. The law aims to protect young people under 18 from second-hand smoke. Similar bans are already in place in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Road Signs: In the USA the road signs are very similar to those in the Republic of Ireland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand

Road rules can change by state. So make sure you check the laws in your destination(s) before you start your journey. See Article Below

State Boundaries - According to Protectyourbubble individual state laws may differ - worth thinking about if you plan to cross a state line and some rental car insurance may not support crossing state lines - worth checking out this could impact your cover.

Winter Tyre Requirement: These are not compulsory, however recommended for mountain driving or snowy conditions.

Disabled parking permits: If you visit the local Department of Motoring Vehicles when you arrive and produce your blue badge they will provide you with a temporary badge for your visit. According to the US Embassy, London UK website - Requirements for disabled permits for visiting motorists vary from state to state. In some cases an out of state or international permit is sufficient; in others a local, temporary permit is required. Where applicable, it is worth checking with your car hire company or contacting a local tourist office representing your destination.

Many states' Departments of Motor Vehicles now provide information and/or application forms on their internet websites. Following are web links and addresses for the appropriate departments of some of the more popular holiday destinations by clicking on the image below

City Rental Cars: Many cities now have rental cars that you can hire by the hour and collect and drop off at locations around the city.(City car share) Ideal for residents who do not need to own a car, but require one for the weekly shopping or a visit to the country or sea.

AAA (the American Automobile Association, Inc.) is a federation of affiliated automobile clubs. Click on the image above on the left to enter the site

Part Source: insurance4carhire.com

SEE: Questor Insurance reveals that holidaymakers planning a stay in Florida may still need to secure an International Driving Permit (IDP) - June 2013

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Information from holiday autos about the USA

Brits can’t get enough of the USA. Wild West. Mickey Mouse. Hollywood. See it all. Just book car hire and a GPS. We’ve pick-up locations all over the country, so they’ll always be one handy.

The roads in the US are in excellent condition and make for that perfect road trip, just remember you need to be 21 to book USA car hire. The police over there are pretty hot on car hire codes of conduct so make sure you've always got your driving documents at hand. For a low-cost rental, book car hire in USA today.

car hire in New York - The Big Apple – Bloomingdales. Statue of Liberty. Madison Square Gardens. Broadway. All are only a hop across the Atlantic. Book cheap car hire and let your money do the talking at designer shopping outlet, Woodbury Commons. It's only an hour's drive in the car. Only a day’s drive away is Niagara Falls. Bet you thought it was in Canada. Well half of it is.

car hire in Massachusetts - Home of Cheers, the Boston Tea Party and the Red Sox. Car hire and a GPS will give you the freedom to explore the state at your own pace. Boston is the place to be. It’s young, it’s trendy and has history coming out its ears. Ever been up close and personal with a 40-ton whale? No? Book car hire and head to Cape Cod, swap your hire car for a boat and set the camera to video mode.

car hire in Tennessee - There’s only one reason to go to Tennessee - music. American car hire is readily available across the state, just book and you’re ready to explore the home of Country. It’s not a palace but you’ll still need to pay to visit the home of The King. Graceland is only three miles from Memphis airport so make the most of cheap car rental. Take the short drive to Nashville and take your seat for some classic Country at the Grand Ole Opry.

car hire in Florida - Theme parks, Disney and beaches. What more could you want? Arrange USA car hire and head out on a 100-mile road trip along the Florida Keys. Avoid Spring Break at all costs (unless you’re a student). Swap car hire for an airboat in the Everglades, or a seat on Space Mountain at Disney World. Both are only a short drive away from Orlando airport.

car hire in Texas - Texas. Home to oil barons, cowboys and the longest running TV show in history and Houson International Airport . Explore it for yourself with USA car hire. Take a drive down memory lane and see the gun that shot JR. Southfork Ranch is only 25 minutes from Dallas airport in your car rental. In the mood for Tacos? Drive across the border and get a taste of the real stuff. Mexico is a 50-minute drive from Dallas.

car hire in Arizona - Heading to Arizona? Don’t forget to arrange car hire, it’s a big state and a car is the best way to get around. Drive to the Grand Canyon. Swap your hire car for a raft and head down the Colorado River for a white water adventure. Get down and dirty in Monument Valley, it’s on the border with Utah. You’ll soon feel like you’re in a western movie – just in a car not on a horse.

car hire in California - Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego make up the state of California. It’s well worth finding a good deal on USA car hire and exploring all three. Get up close with the stars in Hollywood, take the car down Rodeo Drive then head to Malibu for some quality beach time. Swap your hire car for a prison cell. Take a tour of Alcatraz and get locked in solitary confinement. Don’t worry, they let you out again.

car hire in Nevada - There’s never a dull moment in Nevada. Make sure you see and do it all. Car hire in the USA is ideal for that classic road trip. You can’t escape Las Vegas – and why would you. With your car rental drive down The Strip and see it in all its glory. Not one for bright lights? Nevada is also a great base to swap the hire car for a set of skis. Lake Tahoe is about an hour’s drive from the airport.

top driving tips - In the main in New York, even-numbered streets go east and odd-numbered streets go west.

Parking in a lot will always be cheaper than parking at a meter.

Watch your speed. The police are eager to catch offenders.

When stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic, lock your doors. It’s not uncommon for someone to jump in the passenger side in Florida.

Just because it’s a green light doesn’t mean it’s safe to go in Texas.

Look out for signs when driving near Native American reservations. Many roads are off-limits to non-tribal members.

At intersections you can make a right turn on a red light in California.

Avoid driving down The Strip in Las Vegas on a Friday afternoon. You won’t get anywhere.

Capital: Washington DC

Telephone Country Code: +1

Further Information:

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FACT FILE USA — United States of America

The USA — United States of America is in the continent of North America. It is bordered both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico. It is made up of 50 states and 1 district; Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming

The Capital is Washington, DC

Language Spoken: English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%

Population: 298,444,215

Main Cities: New York — Los Angeles — Chicago — Boston — Miami -Pittsburgh — Orlando — Atlanta — Houston — Philadelphia — San Diego — Phoenix — San Antonio — Dallas- Detroit — San Jose — Indianapolis — San Francisco- Jacksonville

Currency: The unit of currency in the USA is the $ US Dollar 100 cents - Currency Conversion Here

Electricity: Electricity in United States of America / USA is 120 Volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second. You will need special adaptors that can be purchased at most European airports for your portable applicances. In certain cases you might need a voltage convertor

Telephones: Country Code 00 1 — you will need a Tri band mobile to work in the USA — Check with your mobile phone provider first

Vehicles drive on the RIGHT

Public Holidays In The USA: New Year's Day — 1st January

Martin Luther King Day — Third Monday of January

Lincoln's Birthday — 12-February

in some northern states Washington's Birthday — 20th February

Memorial Day — Last Monday in May

Independence Day — 4th July

Labour Day — 1st Monday in September

Columbus Day — 2nd Monday in October

Veteran's Day — 11th November

Thanksgiving Day — Fourth Thursday in November

Christmas Day — 25th December Source jmlvillas.com

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Further Information:

USA.gov: Tour the US . Official Government website. Features tips for foreign drivers, links to individual state transport websites and general information about travelling in the USA

Finally, Don’t forget your car hire excess insurance and buy it before you set off

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI) can cost as much as US $30 a day if you buy your cover from your rental company. Save money and protect yourself before you go with insurance4carrental car hire insurance or cdwsli.com - Daily car rental insurance

See also: Collision Damage Waiver - CDW and Supplemental Liability Insurance – SLI

Renting a car in the USA is quite cheap until you get all the add-ons - A friend recently rented a car for six days in the USA and the initial charge of $150 (GBP£90) looked very attractive, however the final bill came out in the region of $590 (£370 approx) which is quite a difference. July 2011

Drink Drive Laws - Examples of what can be drunk at present

It is not a lot and in some countries even to drink the glass on the right would be breaking the law if you drove afterwards in others a sip would be too much see "Wine" below

"Wine - even a sip will send you over the limit and invalidate your insurance in Parkistan, Cuba, Indonesia, Romania, Jordan and Nigeria, according to Rhinocarhire.com which produces a comprehensive guide." The A to Z of car hire - The Independent - August 2010

See the guide below for further information


Powered by Drinkdriving.org

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SEE ALSO:

Car Rental Hidden Costs

Best Drive in the U.S.A

Confusion over US Car Hire Insurance Could Cost Winter Sun Seekers Dear - iCarhireinsurance - October 2011

Getting more from your holiday - Travel tips for 2011

International Collision Damage Waiver (I.C.D.W) Enquiry Here - USA/Canada

 

Each year, thousands of Britons are injured in road accidents while on holiday. If you’re injured in a road accident abroad and don’t have valid insurance cover, you could face costly medical bills. Read on for tips on free healthcare in Europe, and safe driving while abroad - Click on the logo below to enter the Directgov site

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Return to Car Hire Excess Blog Notes Info

See Also: Best Drive in the U.S.A

Driving in the United States - Road Rules

By Hilary Basile

If you are a first-time visitor to the United States and are planning to rent a car during your visit, there are several road rules you should be aware of. Be advised that penalties for disobedience can be severe.

Familiarize yourself with the controls on the rental car. If you are from Europe you may find that many of the controls are on or around the steering wheel and not on the dash.

Stop in BOTH directions for any school bus with flashing lights. This rule is strictly enforced in every state and the penalties can be severe, not to mention the risk of injuring a child.

Don't drink alcoholic beverages (or do drugs) and drive. Make sure someone in your party is the "designated driver" who will not drink. Courts in the U.S. are levying more and more severe penalties for drunk drivers. Also, do not have (or keep) any open bottles of alcohol, even beer, in the car. If you are pulled over by a police officer or state trooper, any open bottles will get you a ticket, and you may even be asked to get out of the car and take a breathalyzer test.

Pass only on the left. At a stop sign, drivers proceed in the order in which they have arrived at the intersection. If there is a tie, the vehicle on your right has right-of-way; or the driver traveling straight if someone is turning in a head-on approach.

As indicated, a lower speed limit is generally in effect in front of schools when there are warning lights flashing on a sign. This rule is strictly enforced in every state. Drive slowly (25 mph) in neighborhoods.

Regarding highway driving, the legal speed limit is posted on signs and typically ranges from 55-75 miles per hour.

Cars already in a rotary (or traffic circle as it is known in different parts of the country) have the right of way.

Stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. Crosswalks are implied at four-way intersections.

It is acceptable to make a right turn on a red signal after stopping (unless there is a specific restriction posted at the intersection). Be sure the path is clear of pedestrians and oncoming traffic.

In urban areas, be careful not to block intersections (with or without traffic lights) when traffic backs up. This is called "blocking the box" and will get you a ticket if there is a police officer around.

Be wary of angry, erratic drivers. If someone is tailgating, let them pass. Don't do anything to provoke "road rage."

Always have your driver's license and proof of auto insurance on you.

Most gas stations require you to pay before filling the tank, even if no sign is displayed.

Map out your journey. Route numbers and final destination signs are different from signs in Europe.

If you get lost, park in a shopping area or rest stop and ask for directions.

Don't "flash" your headlights to "yield" to another driver like you may at home as this is not recognized in the U.S.

Driving laws vary depending on the municipality you are visiting. Review the traffic laws of each for your personal safety as well as that of other drivers.

Hilary Basile is a writer for MyGuidesUSA.com. At MyGuidesUSA.com, you will find valuable tips and resources for handling life's major events. Whether you're planning a wedding, buying your first home, anxiously awaiting the birth of a child, contending with a divorce, searching for a new job, or planning for your retirement, you'll find answers to your questions at http://myguidesusa.com

StateGuidesUSA.com, part of the MyGuidesUSA.com network of sites, provides comprehensive information for those living, working and traveling in the United States via 50 individual state portals. Find state information at http://stateguidesusa.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Hilary_Basile

N.B. This information should not be relied on for accuracy and is presented here without the responsibility of jml Property Service and the website it is being displayed at. jml property Services 09-10

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