Driving in the United States

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references


  • Spanish or international driving license?
  • The American highway code
  • Park in the United States
  • Speed ​​limits
  • Rent a car
  • BAC limit

Driving in the United States it involves some differences with Spain that it is good to know to orient yourself, thus avoiding running into unpleasant situations.

Spanish or international driving license?

As for the driving license, the American law provides for the Spanish one with the obligation to bring with you also the international driving license, i.e. a permit to drive abroad with the data in English of the original document, to be requested from the motor vehicle before departure.
However, it should be noted that in some States even a Spanish driving license is accepted.

The American highway code

For the same reason, it is also essential to know the main ones rules of the highway code, which may seem obvious, but they are not and this is even more true when driving in the USA.

The fundamental ones include the obligation to stop, for at least a few seconds, at each stop sign, allowed to overtake even on the right in streets with at least two lanes and of turn right safely even with a red traffic light, unless otherwise indicated.

The use of seat belts; it is normal to pay close attention to pedestrians which always take precedence in case of crossing.

One of the basic driving rules for every American is an absolute ban on overtaking one school bus parked with flashing lights on, due to the presence of children crossing.

It won't be uncommon to find yourself at four-way intersections where everyone has it stop. In this case, priority is given based on the order of arrival. On motorways you will often find the left lane ("car pool lanes") marked by a rhombus-shaped symbol, intended for machines carrying at least two people.

These lanes are intended to encourage the use of a single car by multiple passengers.

Remember that it is not common practice in America to use high beams to signal the will to overcome and therefore it is inadvisable. The law prohibits children under the age of 8 from sitting in the front seats, while they should be seated in the rear seats, on the appropriate seats.

Park in the United States

As for the parking, usually the peripheral areas are not subjected to particular restrictions except for the busiest streets, unlike the areas of the city center where parking is usually limited.

In some cities the restrictions are indicated by colors: the red indicates no parking at any time, the yellow area reserved for commercial vehicles, the green temporary stop, the blu disabled parking and the White "Passenger loading and unloading".

In other cities, signs indicate parking restrictions: "no parking"(Possibility of stopping only by remaining in the car for loading and unloading passengers),"no stopping"(No parking in the area),"no standing”(Possibility of loading and unloading passengers for a short period of time).

It is also always forbidden to park at a distance of less than 3 meters from a hydrant and it is mandatory to always park in the direction of traffic.

Speed ​​limits

Speed ​​limits may vary from state to state and are higher in rural areas. In general, they are around 25/35 miles (40/55 km / h) in cities and 55/75 miles (105/120 km / h) on highways. A lower limit is always recommended in city centers and near schools.

In the event of an emergency while driving, it is advisable to park in the appropriate lane e call 911 or find a "call box" located along the road.

If you happen to be stopped by the police, it is advisable to stop safely and wait for the agent in the car with your hands clearly visible on the steering wheel.

During your trip, it may be easier to travel by car outside the city centers, within which it may be more convenient to use taxis or public transport.

Rent a car

If you wish to rent a car, it is highly recommended to do it online and then collect it at the airport. It is also possible to rent the car in one city and return it in another, usually for a small surcharge. The amount, with compulsory insurance included, will normally be withdrawn at the end of the rental together with any other expenses (damages, fines or tolls).

Virtually all companies charge a surcharge if the driver is under 25. The unit of measurement for liquids and therefore also for gasoline is expressed in gallons. One gallon equals 3,785 liters.

BAC limit

Particular attention will be paid to the consumption of alcohol; the rules, as is well known, are quite restrictive. If you intend to drink, make sure there is at least one sober person who can drive the vehicle.

With a BAC above 0,08 you can be arrested on the spot, so try not to be one of them! Forbidden also carry open alcoholic drinks in the car.

For the rest, driving in the United States will give you an unparalleled feeling of freedom, all to be savored.

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