Basic rules of the roads and driving requirements.

It is important to keep in mind that each of the 50 states has its own set of traffic laws and regulations. Most traffic laws are universal, however some states different for example, speed limits. When renting a car, you should enquire about any special driving rules in that state and any other states on your itinerary.


Cars drive on the right side of the road, and steering wheels are on the left side of the car. In general the roads in the USA are in good condition and there are many long straight roads travelling from state to state. Take frequent breaks to keep your concentration alert.

Stop / Yield Signs. Come to a full and complete stop at both signs and wait until it is safe to continue driving. At a four-way stop, cars proceed in the order in which they arrived at the intersection.

Yield to Emergency Vehicles. When an emergency vehicle approaches with sirens and flashing lights, pull over to the right side of the road and allow it to pass, even if approaching from the opposite direction.

RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC. It is advisable to avoid major cities at rush hour as this is when driving may be most difficult.


Long stretches of road across states are called Interstate Highways. These highways are sometimes subject to tolls.  Major Interstate Highways running north-south have odd numbers, on the Pacific coast they are numbered 1-5 and on the Atlantic coast 1-95. All east-west Interstates are evenly numbered. Those near the Mexican border begin either 1-8 or 1-10, and as you approach Canada they r 1-94.


Toll roads are called Turnpikes and as you are usually issued a ticket upon entering, which may record the time. If you arrive at the exit at a time that indicates you have been breaking the speed limit, you will be ticketed. Tolls are based driving distance. For detailed information on toll roads across the USA contact the local transportation department.


Plan in advance your stop off points for drinks, snacks, and diversions to keep children entertained.


Major car rental companies offer hand controlled vehicles for disabled drivers.
For emergency repairs for wheel chairs, or to rent or purchase accessories, contact Hospital Equipment & Supplies or similar companies. When parking in a handicap space a rented car must display the international handicap sign on the rear-view mirror and private vehicles must have a handicap symbol on the license plate.


Members of a motor club in their native country may also receive some of the benefits that the American Automobile Association (AAA, commonly called "Triple A") offers. You will need to present your membership card. Triple A has offices in every city across the United States and most of the larger towns. The benefits associated with Triple A include provision of free maps and tourist guides and discounts in certain hotels. If you are not a member of a motor club you my purchase membership to at any AAA office.


Speed limits in the United States vary from state to state. Check local traffic laws and regulations in advance. Speed limits are designated in Miles Per Hour (MPH), not kilometers. One mile equals 1.6093 kilometers. Inner city limit is usually 25 mph (40 kph). Major streets with two or more lanes may be 35 mph (56 kph), consult posted speed limit signs. Highways speed is 55 mph (88 kph), with some interstate highways as high as 65 mph (105 kph). Penalties for speeding are severe and can result in higher insurance premiums and license suspension, in addition to large fines.  If stoped for speeding you may pay the fine by mail. Do not try to offer money to the police officer, bribery is illegal.


Legal requirements vary by state. Check local traffic laws and regulations in advance.


You are required to carry an International Driving License (IDL) or a valid national driver’s license, and you are required to have held your license for a minimum of one year. Be sure to have your passport with you as a photo ID if your national license does not have your picture as the US driving license include the drivers photograph.


In some states you are required to use headlights when it is raining.


Seat belts laws are generally enforced across the United States and young children travel in appropriate child seat and restraints.


Currently, 30 states do not require all-rider helmet law protection. Check state laws.


The minimum age to rent a car is generally 21, in some instances 25. Also check with the rental company if you are over the age of 70 and be advised that there may be additional charges related to your age.  A valid credit card is required for payment and it is advised to verify requirements with each individual agency in each state prior to arrival.


Emergency Services:
Police: 911
Fire: 911
Ambulance: 911
Police assistance (no urgency): 625-5011

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
United States Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

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