Driving in USA: Important Road Safety Rules and Tips

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Driving laws in the US vary from other countries so Sixt has put this guide together to help our customers who need to know some driving tips in the US.

Traffic laws in USA - Important signs and rules

Here are some useful driving tips in the US that you should know before you start your road trip.

  • Dial 911 in case of emergency
  • The driver and all passengers are required to wear seat belts.
  • Child seats are generally required by law.
  • All-way/4-way Stop: At any stop sign you have to come to a complete stop before the white line and yield to traffic. At a 4-way intersection with four stop signs the driver who arrives first goes first. If drivers arrive at the same time the one to the right goes first.
  • Right Turns on red are allowed unless a sign #7 restricts it but you have to stop and yield to traffic before you turn right.
  • Traffic Light: If there is no sign and only the red light is flashing you have to stop and yield to traffic before you proceed (equivalent to a stop sign). If there is no sign and only the yellow light is flashing you need to slow down and proceed with caution (equivalent to a yield sign).
  • Overtaking: You should always pass on the left. You may pass on the right (varies by state): if the vehicle in front of you turns left, if you are on a road with two or more lanes going in one direction and no sign prohibits passing
  • Highway System: All major interstate highways running from north to south have odd numbers (I-5 – I-95) those running from east to west have even numbers (I-8 – I-94).
  • Some highways/bridges require fees. They are called toll roads/toll bridges e.g. the Turnpike (sign #26).
  • Some highways have high-occupancy-lanes (HOV) marked by sign #27 and a white diamond shape on the road.
  • The signs usually indicate the minimum number (e.g. 2+) of passengers required in the car to use the lane.
  • Parking: If the curb is yellow or red parking is prohibited in this area. If the parking spot is marked with blue lines it is a handicapped parking spot.
  • Gas Station: You have to pay before you fill up the tank. Pay at the pump or see the cashier inside. In some states only an attendant is allowed to pump the gas for you.
  • If Stopped by the Police: Pull over safely to the side of the road, turn the car off, roll down your window and do not exit the vehicle

Speed Limits

  • Speed Limits: The maximum speed limits range from 65-75 mph (105-121 kph) with a few minor exceptions. Slower speed limits are indicated by signs. Many states often monitor speed limits with speed radars.
  • School Zones: The speed limit in school zones is 10-25 mph (16-40 kph) when the yellow warning lights are flashing, when children are present or during school pick-up and drop-off hours. By law traffic in both directions must stop when a school bus flashes its red lights. These rules are strictly enforced.

Things to Bring Along

Make sure you carry your driver’s license with you at all times.

Additional Information

Sixt hopes that you have read and understood all our driving tips in USA to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant journey. For your safety, we highly recommend our full protection package. It covers your rental car 100% in case of hit and run, theft and self inflicted accidents. It also covers third party liabilities up to 1 Million Dollars, provides roadside assistance and protects you and your passengers in the rental car.

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