Unusual Tips for Driving in the US
Driving is regarded as one of the most common activities in our modern world.
They say that driving in the US is a sheer delight. On average, Americans drive 13,474 miles every year, which is more time spent behind the wheel than any other nation—12,777 miles more than an average Chinese citizen drives.
Driving on the endless and spacious roads of the West Coast is pure joy. Also, the US road network invites you to drive while admiring the beautiful landscapes.
The United States is not the most difficult country to drive in. However, there are a bit tougher laws here. There are rules to follow when you are behind the wheel, and these apply to everyone, no matter if you are an American citizen or a foreigner.
Speed is Expressed in Miles, Not Kilometers
For non-Americans, this is something to take note of. One of the facts you should keep in mind before traveling to the US is that the distance is calculated in miles and not in kilometers (one mile equals 1.6 kilometers). Also, speed is expressed in miles per hour (mph), not in kilometers per hour (km/h).
Get Used to Lower Speed Limits
In the US, the maximum speed at which you can drive is 65, 70, or 75 mph, which corresponds to 105, 113, or 121 km/h. Just a few freeways in the US let you drive over 65 mph. Texas, however, has the highest speed limits with 85 mph.
Watch Out For the School Buses
As surprising as it may seem, when a school bus turns on its front red light or a stop signal, it indicates that it will stop in the middle of the road for the children to get off. It is not even going to move over a little. You cannot go past it, and if you are coming from the front, you also have to stop. Also, you must be at least 10 feet away from the bus. It is one of the most serious traffic offenses in the US.
Americans Drive Automatic and Rarely Manual
When it comes to cars, the task of finding a car with a manual transmission in the United States may end up being futile. Familiarize yourself with a car with automatic transmission. Most probably, your rental car will have an automatic transmission as well.
What Liters? Americans Only Measure Gas in Gallons
When refueling, remember that the unit of measurement for fluids is the gallon, which is equivalent to 3.78 liters. Therefore, when you see the prices of the fuels displayed at the US gas stations, they will be in dollars per gallon.
Fuel in the United States is Cheaper Than in Europe
Don't panic if your rental car runs on gasoline. There are three types of gasoline: regular (87), mid-grade (89), and premium (93). Its price is around $3.50 to $4.00 per gallon, which translates to about $0.79 per liter. Only Russia has cheaper gas than the US.
Plan and fill the gas when you know that you are going to cross sparsely populated areas, for example, the stretch that connects Las Vegas and Los Angeles or national parks. Do not run the fuel tank below 1/4.
It Is Easy to Locate Addresses in the Cities of the United States
It is very easy to find your way since there is always a “Main Street" that crosses the population, dividing it into two sectors, east and west or north and south. In the big cities, even if there is no "Main Street," there will always be a street that separates the northern sector from the south and the east from the west.
This way, when you want to locate an address, you will always have a reference in advance because they are written as follows: “1642 North 1st Street” or “94 West 42th Ave.”
Also, the names of the streets are not on the walls of the corners of the buildings. They are always next to the traffic light or at a sign in the corner, but never on the wall.
Locations Are Mostly Suffixed
Among the most common suffixes of the names are street (St), road (Rd), square (Sq), boulevard (Blvd), avenue (Ave), highway (Hwy), Drive (Dr). Abbreviations with respect to the direction - S for the south, E for the east, N for the north, W for the west.
The Traffic Light at Intersection Works a Bit Differently
At an intersection, the traffic light you have to look at is the one on the other side of the intersection. You have to stop at a corner and obey the traffic light in front.
Learn the Numbering of American Highways
Highways that go from north to south have odd numbers. They are numbered I-5 from the Pacific coast to I-95 on the Atlantic coast. Interstate highways that run from east to west or vice versa have even numbers and start from I-8 near the Mexican border to I-94 near Canada.
Don't Expect To See Many Roundabouts
While in Europe roundabouts are used in excess to regulate the flow of traffic at crossings, in the United States they barely exist! But you can be calm because the American driver is very respectful of the priority of passage.
As a tourist, if you are going to be the driver for your road trip, make sure you have no “liquid courage” in your system. In fact, you have to be a teetotaler as a driver on US soil as US courts impose very hard penalties for drunk drivers. Also, you can't keep open bottles of alcohol in the car. If you are stopped by a police officer or state agent, and you transport open bottles in the car, you'll equally get a fine, even if you are not drunk.
The above tips are useful to anyone within the United States of America, including natives. Not only do they make driving safer, but they can also serve to keep you out of trouble.