In the USA, traffic laws can vary between different states, so it's important to check the rules and regulations in the state you are visiting.
- You must drive on the right hand side of the road.
- Alcohol limits vary from state to state, but a tough stance is taken on drink-driving in all states, so it's advisable not to consume any alcohol before you drive. It is also illegal in the USA to have an open bottle, can or other container of alcohol in your car.
- Most states have four-way stops instead of roundabouts. The first vehicle to stop has priority. If in doubt, give way to the vehicle on your right. If you encounter a roundabout, however, priority is given to vehicles coming from the left.
- You are not allowed to overtake school buses anywhere in the USA.
Speed limits can vary in different states, but are measured in miles per hour countrywide. In all areas speed limits tend to be well signposted. It's worth sticking to the speed limit no matter what state you're driving in, as the police in the USA tend to enforce them rigorously. Speed traps are common and don't always carry warnings. As a general guide:
- Speed limits on the motorway tend to be between 55 and 65 mph
- In populated areas, speed limits are usually 25 to 35 mph.
Road signs can also differ between states, so it's important to check what signs are used in the area you're visiting.
- Motorway signs have white writing on a green background.
- A Yield sign, usually an upside-down triangle in yellow, means you have to give way.
- A red octagonal Stop sign means you have to stop completely, otherwise you can be prosecuted.
- Demarcation lines for traffic moving in opposite directions are yellow.
- Lanes travelling in the same direction are separated by a broken white line.
- Two yellow lines together mean you must not overtake.
Toll roads are common all over the USA, and are also known as turnpikes. Not all take card payments, so it's advisable to carry cash as well.
The USA is a vast country, and driving across it takes a long time. However, it is a popular destination for road trips. Some of the best routes to take you across the country are the US 50, which runs west to east from California to Maryland, the Great River Road from Minnesota to Louisiana, and the US 6 from California to Massachusetts.
Parking regulations differ between states, cities and towns. Most cities are divided into different parking zones which are designated by different colours. They tend to be served well by both private and public car parks which you have to pay for. It is sometimes possible to park for free outside shopping malls and large stores. However, parking time is likely to be restricted, and if you overstay you can be fined or have your car towed away. Remember to park in the direction of the traffic.