GENERAL DRIVING RULES IN THE USA
Do not drink and drive! It is a serious criminal offense driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is illegal to carry any open containers containing alcohol (even empty ones) inside a car. In the United States, it is illegal in all jurisdictions to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and drugs to the degree that mental and motor skills are impaired. The specific criminal offense if caught driving under the influence (DUI) and in some states driving while intoxicated (DWI) will result in arrest and criminal charges. The legal limit for blood alcohol content in the United States is 0.08%.Seat Belts:
There are seat belt laws in 49 states plus the District of Columbia where seat belts used by all occupants of the front seat are required by law. In the state of New Hampshire, there is no requirement for adults to wear a seatbelt, but anyone under the age of 18 must use a seatbelt.Cell Phones, Navigation Aids, etc:
Drivers may use a hands-free (Bluetooth) device for voice communication through a smartphone
The driver must not use any screen-based aid to navigation (or entertainment) while on the road. You must pull completely off away from traffic. (It makes sense really; after all, you are not allowed to drive down the road with a map on the steering wheel). DVD players and screen-based devices other than those directly needed to operate the car must be positioned so the driver cannot see them. However, in reality, the police rarely have anything to do with this law.Driving Age:
The legal driving age in the US varies by state, but usually falls between the age of 16-18 years old. Most rental car companies require drivers to be 21 or older to rent a car, usually, a surcharge applies to renters under the age of 25.
A valid driver's license is required to operate a motor vehicle on any public road in the US, drivers licenses are issued by the authority of individual states and includes all territories. United States drivers obtain a license from their state of residence and every state in the US recognizes that license for temporary visitors.Using Indicators:
The use of indicators is required by law in the USA to signal for a minimum 100 feet when drivers are making a turn, slowing down or stopping.Overtaking:
Overtaking or `passing` another vehicle in the United States works much the same as in other countries, passing is allowed on all four or more lane roads and on mostly two-lane roads. You are allowed to pass another vehicle if there is a designated dashed line (yellow or white) that travels down the middle of the road. A solid double yellow line down the middle of the road indicates that passing is illegal in both directions. You should always pass on the left, depending upon the state passing on the right may be allowed if the vehicle in front is turning left, if there are two or more lanes going in one direction and if there is no sign shown prohibiting passing on the right.Traffic Lights:
The United States uses traffic lights like almost every other country in the world, lights can turn red (stop), yellow (yield) and green (go). Traffic lights may also allow vehicles to turn right on a red light, this is usually marked on the traffic light if a red light is flashing you need to yield to traffic and then proceed with caution. If a yellow light is flashing you need to slow down and proceed with caution like a yield sign.
In the US at some traffic lights you are allowed to turn right on a red traffic light unless a sign specifically tells you not to. Many times there is a right lane only turn lane, if the light is red you must stop, approach the line with a turn signal on and check for traffic if the road is clear and it is not marked otherwise you can proceed right, remember to give way to pedestrians that have the right away at crosswalks.Stop Signs:
Stop signs are used all over the united states, mainly in cities, towns and villages. The purpose of a stop sign is to STOP completely and give way to other cars at the stop sign in order of priority to the first vehicle that arrives. There are four-way stop signs, and two way stop signs in the united states, and they can be hard to get used to for foreign visitors. The process of a stop sign is to come to a complete stop, then allow for traffic that arrives before you to proceed through and take your turn based on how traffic arrives at the stop sign. If all vehicles arrive at a stop sign at the same time, the vehicle on the left has to give way to the vehicle on the right. Be cautious at stop signs and be sure you have the right of way before proceeding.School Buses:
There are strict rules when it comes to school buses in the United States, most buses are bright yellow and clearly marked. When school buses are picking up and dropping off students all vehicle traffic must come to a complete stop, the bus displays a large `STOP` sign that pops out from the side of the bus and the red lights flash. All traffic including oncoming vehicles must stop (unless there is a median separating the roadway) and wait for the bus to complete its pick up or drop off operation. Watch out for school buses and school zones with flashing lights at drop off and pick up as the speed limits drop to 15 mph or less.Insurance:
Car insurance is required in the majority of states in the US with two main types available; liability insurance and collision insurance. The liability covers other people for their property if you are involved in an accident that you cause, insurance pays for the damage to someone else`s property. Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle. Every state requires liability insurance and collision insurance is usually optional.