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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Driving in USA: Features of traffic, rules, fines and tips for tourists

  Rajesh Kumar Rana       Saturday, June 26, 2021

 Driving in USA

Driving in USA: Features of traffic, rules, fines and tips for tourists

Driving in USA, traffic on the roads of the States, parking, fuel cost, features and differences of traffic rules from European ones, police in the USA and drunk driving.

Traffic rules and regulations in the USA

Traffic rules in the United States vary from state to state. It is enough to know the general provisions, be guided by road signs and be guided by common sense. As a last resort, you can ask the police a question or do as the locals do. This applies to parking, road speed and traffic.

Fuel in the USA

Fuel is measured in gallons, and the price of fuel is calculated per gallon - this is the main difference from Europe. One gallon equals 3.785 liters. At first I divided it by about 4, then I got used to it and now I don't pay attention. The fuel price as of mid-2017 was $ 1.5-2.8 per gallon.

It is important to remember that fuel costs differ from state to state. For example, in wealthy California, gasoline prices range from $ 2.15 to $ 2.8 per gallon, while in Utah or Arizona, the same fuel can cost almost half as much.

But not only because California, a rich state, gasoline is more expensive here, we have special requirements for CO, cleanliness of combustion and ecology.

Car rental. International law

Many copies have been broken on forums about whether or not an MVO (international driver's license) is needed. My answer is, if in doubt, do these IDPs and don't think about it anymore.

For everyone else, I will say that the usual rights of citizens of the former USSR are accepted in most states, including California, Utah or Arizona. Theoretically and practically, there is a possibility of refusal when renting a car from very small distributors.

Our friends were denied a jeep in the tourist town of Kanab, Utah - it was a small, half-dead office and the only one in the area. I had to take a car with an American license. In 99.99 percent of cases, the car will be issued, especially when it comes to large international or large local offices in large cities or airports.

USA road signs

Most road signs in the United States are textual. For example, the prohibition of turning left is indicated as a sign with the text   No Turn Left. The speed limit will look like Speed ​​Limit 40 - driving at a speed not exceeding 40 miles per hour.

Some signs are written specifically. For example, a dead end is designated as  Dead End  and a pedestrian crossing as  PedXing  (a stylized shorthand for pedestrian crossing).

Roads in the USA

The roads in the USA are good, a small car is enough for driving, with rare exceptions when you need to get to a beautiful and inaccessible place - then you need a jeep.

Distances are measured in miles, and speed, respectively, in miles / hour. Remember that 100 miles per hour is about 160 km.

Thesis about the features of American roads:

The opposite directions outside the cities are divorced.

There may be no signs to a city or town - signs West, East are very popular.

A navigator is necessary, otherwise it is very easy to drive a few extra hundred miles, given the distances.

The logic of the roads is different from the European one, but you get used to it quickly. Even numbers are used to number roads in the east-west (west-east) direction, odd numbers - north-south (south-north).

Highway exits are numbered and marked on the map, the principle of numbering is usually tied to the distance, that is, to the mile. The closest major city to which this road leads is often written next to the exit number. It is important not to miss the desired exit - GPS will help you.

Compliance with traffic rules and fines for speeding and minor violations

Speed ​​limits are governed by mile signs, for example Speed ​​Limit 55 means 55 mph. The excess is generally allowed at 10 miles per hour, this is due to the error of the measuring device at the police. Can stop up to 5 mph above the limit, especially in residential areas.

The exception to this rule is movement in a stream. If there is a 55-mile limit and the traffic is traveling at 90 miles, no police will stop you. Moreover, you even have to drive at the same speed so as not to interfere with the track.

The rule of movement in the stream works if you cannot safely reduce the speed to the maximum allowed. If everyone around is driving 90, and on the right there are 2 free lanes, then they can very much even stop.

The general rule is to be guided by the flow of cars. If you do not know how to behave on a specific section of the road, also do as other drivers.

Everywhere we went, in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, huge fines for dumping trash. Both when driving and at stops - up to $ 10,000 US dollars. Never litter.

Speeding fines start at $ 200, for example in California. My recommendation is to drive by the rules.

Features of traffic rules in California

In  California,  motorcyclists are allowed to drive between lanes. They actively use this during heavy traffic, so you should be careful when changing lanes and not hook a motorcyclist cutting zigzags between lanes.

In other states of the United States, driving between lanes is prohibited!

Special lanes

There is such a lane, which is designated Carpool, which can be used by cars with two or more people and electric vehicles.

Carpool or HOV (High Occupancy Lane) is found in many states. These lanes are usually marked with a diamond on the road or HOV. In addition, at the entrance to such a lane there is a sign indicating the minimum number of people in the car, which gives the right to enter it. In most cases, these are 2 people, but sometimes there are 3, so you need to be careful. Penalty for violation starts at $371.

It is worth remembering for your own convenience that the yellow markings should always be to the left of the driver in the direction of travel. If the markings are on the right, then you are driving in the opposite lane.

Highway Stops

It is impossible to stop on the highways, with the exception of short stops, the emergency gang can be turned on or not. We always stopped for a photo, no problem, the police can stop and ask if there is a problem.

Low beam headlights on cars

It is not necessary to turn on the dipped beam, but it is easier to turn it on - this way you are more noticeable on the road. In the vast majority of cars, it turns on automatically.

Seat belts

Seat belts - front passengers must be fastened, fines for not wearing a passenger's seat belt will be paid by the passenger himself, not the driver.

Intersection of two solid centerline

It is strictly forbidden to cross two double center lines - the so-called barrier, under any circumstances. In some cases it is possible to cross one double axial axis. Again, be guided by other road users. I don't see any sense in studying American traffic rules specifically, although there are many differences from Europe, but they are all intuitive, and besides, the prohibitions are accompanied by signs.

Right turn at a red traffic light

Right turn is allowed at a red traffic light, as in most European countries, with the exception of places with a No Turn On Red sign.

In  New York,  turning right at a red light is prohibited, except in places that are marked with a permit sign.

Communicating with the police in the United States

When they want to stop you, a police car pulls in behind and announces its desire over the loudspeaker, often just turn on the flashing light.

If the violation is serious, all flashing lights and all sound signals are turned on. They will never overtake.

Do I need to get off at the stop if the police stop you? There is no need. Calmly wait for the cops and open the front window. For minor violations, they will simply be warned. For example, if the headlights are not turned on, you are threatened with a maximum warning - say that you just drove away from the parking lot and forgot to turn it on.

The police treat tourists a little more leniently, but you shouldn't joke or joke around. They will most likely refuse to take a selfie.

Drinking and driving laws in US

The attitude to alcohol is tough. The allowed level is 0.08% - a bottle of beer 0.33. Many people ignore this rule and drink much more, from clubs and bars everyone drives off in cars, while being heavily drunk, I myself have seen. The police will not just stop and most Americans use it.

It is forbidden to keep alcohol open in the car, only in the trunk and only closed. Passengers are prohibited from drinking alcohol in the car, even beer. The fines are big.

It is worth knowing that the police in the United States often patrol the streets in an unmarked car and take photographs of violators.

How is a sobriety test in California

Often in California, mobile checkpoints are stationed near lush and entertainment establishments, where they stop everyone who moves towards the checkpoint, without exception. The condition is assessed visually through an open window, a couple of questions are asked, and only if there are signs of serious intoxication, they are asked to get out of the car and take the test.

Such checkpoints are visible from afar and locals usually go around them without difficulty, except for the most drunk. If the driver is recognized as drunk, the driver faces compulsory training in the program to combat drunkenness, an increase in insurance premiums and payment for the services of lawyers. The total of all these pleasures can exceed $ 10,000. It is definitely better for a tourist not to drink!

In California, as well as in other states, there is a photo registration of violations. There are many cameras, but they are not used as intensively as in Europe. In California, there are no cameras that automatically register speeding, vehicle details and fines by mail. In other 13 states, the situation is different they are prohibited by law, in 12 they are allowed and used, in the rest they are not used, but there are no laws prohibiting their use and they may appear in the future. Most cameras are used to register red light traffic - there are such cameras in 24 states.

Parking in the USA

Parking in big cities, especially in the center, is a nightmare of a motorist, especially a beginner or tourist. Watch and read the signs carefully. Everything is written there, although in some cases the sign may contain up to 10 plates at a time. Different parking conditions on weekdays and weekends, during business hours and in the evenings.

Lots of free parking spaces, but not in popular spots or downtown. There is always parking near attractions, almost always paid, but there are exceptions. Parking price - from $ 1 per hour. Underground and multi-level indoor parking is much more expensive. Even locals can look for a parking spot for an hour or more. But this is rather an exception to the rule. You can almost always find expensive parking lots.

In some cities it is better to do without a car, for example, in San Francisco, and in such as Los Angeles, there is nowhere without a car.

Toll roads in the USA

There are toll roads in the USA, but there are very few of them and you can not use them.

Conclusions about driving a car in the States

Traveling on the roads in the United States is more convenient than in Europe and even more so in any other CIS country. And it's not just about quality.

The infrastructure here is very cool, almost perfect. You can drive a thousand kilometers and never visit cities. Absolutely everywhere along the roads there are inexpensive housing - motels or mini-hotels. The farther from the coast, the cheaper the fuel. It is not at all necessary to read the traffic rules of each state, it is easier to have basic knowledge, trust your intuition and act like the locals. It is better for a tourist while driving not to drink at all - it is fraught with errors and heavy fines, not to mention the exposure of himself, passengers and pedestrians to danger.


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