Tips for driving a rental car in the USA

Driving across different types of streets in the United States is a completely different experience in itself. Having a car by your side is one of the prime necessities of exploring a country as vast as the USA. Since driving rules vary across all states in the USA, all travelers need to be extra careful while traveling from one state to another. If you are traveling to any particular state in the country, it is best to gather all information regarding driving rules and regulations in that particular state. The below driving tips and rules will certainly be of help on your next trip to the United States.

Driver’s age limit:

The minimum driving age is 18 years and the minimum car rental age is 21 years. However, the rental age limit may vary based on the car rental company as well as the state in which you are driving.

Driving License:

All drivers in the United States are required to carry licenses valid for a minimum of 1 year to be able to drive around; the same applies for rental cars.

Driving in USA with foreign license:

In the USA, to drive your rental car you need a valid driver’s license, irrespective of the issuing country. Foreign license holders might be required to present their International Driving Permits (IDP).

Speed limits:

You will find speed mentioned as well as measured in mph i.e. miles per hour. The maximum speed limit in most of the states is 65- 70 mph. It is also very important to keep a check on the road signs as speed limits vary across different states.

Drunken driving:

In majority of the states, the permitted limit of alcohol in the blood while driving is 0.08 mg per 100 ml of blood. The allowable amount of alcohol varies across all states and hence it is better to not drink and drive at all.

Child safety:

Child safety rules vary from one state to another in the US. Appropriate restraints are compulsory for all children under the age of 6 years. Children under 16 years of age have to wear a seat belt and can only be seated in the back seat.

Driving rules and laws in USA

  • Vehicles are driven on the right hand side of the road.
  • Each and every occupant in the vehicle must wear seat belts.
  • All vehicles have to pass others on the left hand side of the road.
  • The use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited and the use of hands- free systems are highly appreciated.
  • Use of indicator lights is compulsory while turning.
  • You can take right turns only at the signed red signal lights after stopping. If it is not permitted, then you cannot take right turns even after stopping.
  • Vehicles must make way for all kinds of emergency service vehicles.
  • A valid driving license, insurance documents as well as registration documents are mandatory to be carried by the driver whenever they are driving anywhere in the USA.

Driving distances across major cities in USA

  • New York to Washington
    Distance:365 kms
  • San Francisco to Los Angeles
    Distance:615 kms
  • Las Vegas to Los Angeles
    Distance:430 kms
  • Miami to Fort Lauderdale
    Distance:50 kms
  • Chicago to Milwaukee
    Distance:150 kms
  • Boston to New York
    Distance:350 kms
  • Colorado Springs to Denver
    Distance:120 kms
  • Chicago to Cincinnati
    Distance:477 kms

Parking rules in USA

Before leaving your vehicle, make sure that you are familiar with the parking rules of that particular state.

  • In all major cities, use the Pay and Display System. You will have to purchase parking tickets from a nearby machine and place it on your windscreen.
  • Travelers can also find free parking at various malls across the majority of the states.
  • Make sure not to park on the wrong side of the road with your car facing the oncoming traffic.
  • It is always preferred to contact the tourism board for information regarding cheaper parking options in the particular state and area you are traveling to.
  • All yellow- painted pavements are for emergency service vehicles such as fire engines and ambulances. Hence do not park your vehicle at such pavements.
  • Some parking places may have zoning restrictions, snow emergency routes as well as scheduled street sweepings
  • Before parking your car, check for all nearby signs and make sure that it has no such limitations before parking your vehicle there.
  • At some places, parking spots are reserved for nearby places of business as well. Parking at such places is also strictly prohibited.

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Common phrases used while driving in the USA

  • 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

Best time to visit the USA

Usually, the peak season for tourists runs through May to September. As the vast and tremendous spread of the country offers a variety of different climates and seasons across different states, which is why the USA is worth visiting anytime throughout the year. Whereas, the best time to visit also depends on the state and region you are planning to visit.

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