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Thread: Driving in America...Tips?

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    Regular Member Brocks's Avatar
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    Default Driving in America...Tips?

    We're doing Christmas and new year in the US. We are doing 4 days in Disney before driving down to Naples to join the rest of the family. I've heard driving over there is quite different. Apparently a read traffic light doesn't always mean stop and so on. So I am quite nervous about it all.

    Anyone have experience driving over there and can tell me the main points to remember?

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    [Ex]Admin Duncan's Avatar
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    Remember to drive on the right is a good one for starters!

    As you say, the turn on red is one to note. A lot of junctions, but not all, allow you to turn right on a red - it'll be signed to let you know if you can/can't.

    Other than little things like that, there's no huge difference really - not that I found anyway when I drove all around Florida, Keys etc. Just the usual sensible tourist things - don't look like a tourist i.e. don't have your map spread out on the dash which screams "I'm a tourist!!! lol Keep your doors locked, avoid any unknown/dodgy parts etc. etc.

    Have you driven abroad before? If so then you'll be absolutely fine as the main thing is just adapting quickly to driving on the right with the ways the junctions etc. all work accordingly.

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    Regular Member Brocks's Avatar
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    I drive in Europe a lot so I have no problems driving on the wrong side

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    Regular Member Sean-2.2Direct's Avatar
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    I have to drive in europe soon going to disneyland there not looking forward to a few of there rules

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    [Ex]Admin Duncan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brocks View Post
    I drive in Europe a lot so I have no problems driving on the wrong side
    In that case I'd say nothing really to worry about. The turn right on red was the only thing that I recall that caught me out. I stopped at the red light, as you do, and wondered why the hell I was getting honked at furiously from behind. Once I realised/found out I don't think there was anything else I recall that threw me as such.

    Obviously they've got their different traffic laws - I can't recall if there were any weird/bizarre ones in Florida. Gimme a bit as I've just remembered I've got a Rough Guide to Florida on the shelf. I'll have a peek at it to see if there's anything important I'm forgetting as it was a good few years ago I was there.

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    Regular Member 67688c's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brocks View Post
    We're doing Christmas and new year in the US. We are doing 4 days in Disney before driving down to Naples to join the rest of the family. I've heard driving over there is quite different. Apparently a read traffic light doesn't always mean stop and so on. So I am quite nervous about it all.

    Anyone have experience driving over there and can tell me the main points to remember?

    You will be fine over there, roads can get heavily congested near the big cities, but once on the open road, thay are just lovely and straight just like on the movies, Traffic light controls are similar to here, only thing to watch are their speed limits, some states can be very strict.

    In the USA where they have toll roads they are referred to as Turnpikes.
    As you enter a turnpike you are usually issued a ticket, which may record the time. Be aware that if you reach the exit of the Turnpike at a time that indicates you have been breaking the speed limit, you will get a ticket! The tolls are based on the distance you drive.

    Enjoy the trip, its a great country, excellent cheap food, and one thing you will notice in most their pull-ins is how clean they are, they put more ephasis on giving good service and they love to chat to brits. My son owns a home in Atlanta with a fantastic pool, he and his family spend a lot of time over there, the wife and I have been there 4 times so far and weve always had a great time. Excellent for kids.
    Normally quite cheap, but the exchange rate is not good at present. Last year we was getting over 2 dollars to the pound. Good value for money holiday, once you get there.
    Have a good safe and enjoyable trip.... you will all love it.

    BTW.. The son does rent the house out if anyone is interested, and fancies a break in Atlanta. normally charges £500 a week, but its well worth it, Could probably get it a bit cheaper for members on here. Only thing thats extra is the charge for the pool heating, which if the kids use it all the week is around 75 dollars.
    Last edited by 67688c; 25th November 2008 at 12:39.

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    Regular Member petel's Avatar
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    check the law on school buses,you may come across these on your trip.
    I think that if they stop in front of you, you must stop as well,and if its a normal road without a central reservaton you must stop if you are travelling the opposite way

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    [Ex]Admin Duncan's Avatar
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    OK. Here are a few in the Rough Guide I have...
    • Florida speed limit is 55. 65 on some Interstate stretches.
    • Any alcohol must be carried unopened in the boot.
    • Illegal to make a U-turn on the Interstate or anywhere where a single unbroken line runs down the middle of the road
    • Illegal to park on a highway
    • Front seat passengers must wear seat-belts.
    How are you getting the car? It says it's generally the case that the airport branches of the hire companies are the cheapest. Depends if you want to have the car sorted before you get there or chance it on arrival. You can ring the toll-free numbers and basically try to get them to keep beating their rival's offers.

    It says that the additional CDW insurance is well worh considering. It add a bit per day to the rental but leaves you liable to far less if you have any incident/damage.

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    Regular Member petel's Avatar
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    some parts of the I-4 towards Tampa have a speed limit of 70, but there are plenty of signs telling you the limit
    Was there in April and had a great time, hope you enjoy it and dont worry about the driving as its not stressful at all.I did over a thousand miles which suprised me as we did not go far really!!

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    Regular Member chrisf70's Avatar
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    If you go into towns/suburbs the crossroads/junctions, without lights, between blocks with the Stop signs take a little bit of getting used to. You have to stop at a stop sign for 4secs, even if there is nothing coming.

    If you and others get to a crossroads, without lights, at the same time each will stop and whoever got there first can then go first. It sounds confusing, but this and other road laws make driving a lot more relaxed than it is here or on the continent. Also on suburban roads they seem to be quite hot on parking at the kerb with the direction of traffic.

    At junctions/crossroads with traffic lights if they are flashing amber you can proceed with caution

    Overall people seem to obey the laws of the road and are more courteous.

    I was soon driving around Philadelphia/Washington DC and New York this summer in a big old 300C and feeling really relaxed.

    One final thing the bit that made it easiest for us was the SATNAV we purchased before we went. We got a Garmin, can't remember the number, for about £150 from Toys R Us which was preloaded with USA/Europe and Uk maps. We would have been lost, literally, without this as we drove a 1000miles from Philly to North Carolina and back.

    One note: go the right way out of the airport hire car centre, as we were coming back into Dollar rent a car at Philadelphia airport there was a guy just coming out of the entrance with four flat tyres he'd just driven over the spikes!! Ouch, one quick way to loose your deposit!

    Have fun.
    Last edited by chrisf70; 25th November 2008 at 13:05.

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