US Driving Tips

Driving in the USADriving in the USA

Traffic laws and regulations can vary between each of the 50 states (although most are similar). So when picking up your rental vehicle be sure to ask if there are any unique driving rules in the states that you will be travelling through.

These are the main road rules to help you along the way:

  • Drive on the right hand side of the road.
  • By law, every vehicle occupant must wear a seatbelt.
  • Maps, speedometers and road signs are all in miles per hour.
  • Speed limits vary between the states, so keep an eye out for signage.
  • You can turn right on a red traffic signal, but only after stopping and checking for traffic.

Drivers Licence

An International Driving Permit (IDP) translates information contained on your driver's license into 10 languages so that officials in foreign countries are able to interpret your license. An IDP supplements a valid government-issued license--it does not serve as a replacement for a license. If you are stopped by law enforcement, you will most likely be asked to produce both your IDP and your official driver's license. The United States does NOT issue International Driving Permits to foreign visitors, so you will need to obtain this document before traveling to the U.S. In the US you aren’t required to carry an International Driving Permit if you hold a valid driving license from your home country. You may need to have held this license for one year.

Toll/Turnpike Information

Tickets issued at turnpikes may be marked with a time. If the time in which you reach your destination indicates you’ve been speeding, you’ll be fined. Make sure you keep your RV in the truck lanes, not the "cars only" lanes.

Restrictions

When you pull into a road stop for a break or gas, stay out of the "cars only" sections - the size of your RV may put you into a truck category. Many areas have signs indicating trucks/buses/campers.

Try to observe the truck rules, eg mostly stay out of the passing lanes when they don't allow trucks; use the slow lanes on a long hill; and give trucks the room they need.

Sometimes it’s vague as to whether you should take your RV into areas that state “no trucks”. Generally, if "No Trucks" is qualified with "hazardous cargo", a weight limit, height limit, width limit, or similar restriction, you need to obey it. Sometimes "No Trucks" signs also specifically list trailers, RVs, and/or buses. "Cars Only" is another clear indication that RVs shouldn't be there.

"No Trucks" without any other explanation doesn't apply to RVs, however. "No Commercial Vehicles" doesn't apply to RVs. "Trucks excluded from left lane" tells you that you shouldn't really be there, but you’re allowed. "All Trucks" or "All commercial vehicles" at an inspection/weigh point do not apply to RVs – that’s only for trucks that are hauling commercially.

Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is an offence in some states. If you do need to make or take a call, pull over to the side of the road.

Alcohol and Drug Limits

The blood alcohol limit for driving in the USA is .08%

Driver Fatigue

It’s imperative you realise the potential hazards for accidents on the road due to sleepiness and lack of concentration. Every year a huge number of accidents occur due to driver fatigue. It is for this reason that many RV rental companies insist that renters arriving on international flights must stay overnight in a hotel before being allowed to drive their vehicles.

Tips to help you stay alert:

  • Make sure you are refreshed and rested before a long drive.
  • Every two hours, take a break from driving.
  • If possible, share the driving with someone else.
  • Avoid really big meals and drink plenty of fluids.
  • If you begin to feel sleepy, try to nap for up to 40 minutes.
  • If you’re feeling very tired find a place to stay overnight.

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