Driving Tips, Rules & Regulations in the USA

Ready to hit Route 66? With 50 states having different laws and – presumably – varying traffic regulations, driving in United States requires a lot of familiarization before hitting the road. On that note, you should already know that it’s important to learn more about the particular states you’ll be headed to. It’s never safe to assume that the driving laws of one state will be just like the next one. But here you’ll see some common rules that you will need to observe as you take your car cross-country.

To be safe, you need to be at least 16 years old to be able to legally drive. Those applying for a local license will start off with a restricted license which usually limits the number of passengers you can carry at once. This starting license will usually go on for six months. The same license will also have a restriction as to the times of the day you can drive.

As a foreigner, you can use the license from your country of origin for as long as one year, so long as the country you’re from is part of the UN Convention on Road Traffic. The license must also be in English, otherwise you’ll need an International Driving Permit or IDP. Take note that the US no longer issues IDPs for visitors, so you need to procure the translation of your license from your own country. Upon acquiring residency status, however, you will have 30-60 days to get a license from the State you’re residing in.

On a side note, it’s pretty useful to have a US driver’s license even when you don’t drive as much because it’s a pretty reliable method of identification. The process isn’t very difficult and you’ll only need to present documents you probably already have with you when you got to this country (i. e. passport, SSS number, photos, etc. )

The average speed limit all over the US is 65 mph. This, however, is subject to the more specific and hence, reliable speed signs. Keep an eye out for them, follow them, and you’ll never get a speeding ticket from the cops.

The rules on seat belts vary between states – some will require only the front seats to buckle up while other states require all passengers within the vehicle to have them when outfitted. Of course, seat belts are good for you, so you may as well wear them. After all, there’s no state that penalizes someone for actually wearing a safety belt while driving. As much as possible, provide proper outfitting of safety features for your kids and don’t ever let babies sit in front.

Give way to school buses and drive slowly in school zones – these areas have a lower speed limit for obvious reasons.

When pulled over by the police, it’s customary to drive to the side of the road, turn off your car’s engine, and hold your steering wheels with both hands where they could be visible to the officer. Listen to the officer’s instructions and don’t attempt to do anything (i. e. take out your license or fix your car) until you are told to do so. Needless to say, always bring with you all your documents.

Cops can subject you to a Breathalyzer test at any time, so avoid being drunk when you’ll be driving in Untied States a lot. With as little as 0. 8% BAC, you could be subjected to a fine between $500 and $1000, not to mention risk jail time and losing your license. There’s no state in the US that will say that it’s ok to drink and drive, so it’s better to play safe no matter which state you’re in.

Summary

There are different laws and varying traffic regulations between each state.
As a foreigner, you can use the license from your country of origin for as long as one year. If its not in English you require a International Driving Permit though.
The average speed limit all over the US is 65 mph.
The rules on seat belts vary between states. Be safe and always wear yours.
Give way to school buses and drive slowly in school zones.
Don't drink drive. Exceeding 0. 8% BAC, you could be subjected to a fine between $500 and $1000.

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