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Florida Guide > Travelling

Driving in the USA

Being a Brit and used to driving on the left, my imagination of my first experience of driving on the right was actually far worse than doing it, there are a few things that you have to carefully consider, even when you are quite experienced at driving on the right. For example, when you turn to the left in the UK, you turn towards the near side of the vehicle, when you turn to the left in the USA, you turn towards the drivers side of the vehicle and unless I am really thinking about which is actually left and right, if my wife tells me to turn left, I turn towards the side of the car that she is sitting in, i. e. the right.

I have also to concentrate when turning left at traffic lights, it would not be hard to hold a line to the kerb, which of course would take you into oncoming traffic, instead, you sweep round to the left as you would sweep round to the right in the UK. I have only ever seen a couple of traffic roundabouts in the US but it would not be hard to go the wrong way around them and of course drivers in the US have little lane discipline, this is not a criticism but a statement of fact, drivers in the US do not drive as we do in this country keeping to the lanes to the left and overtaking in lanes to the right, although in the US it would be keeping to the lanes on the right and overtaking in the lanes to the left. You must therefore be aware that vehicles will overtake you on either side. They also have four way stop junctions, at these everyone stops and then goes in turn so it is important to note in which order that you pull up.

So, my advice would be extra concentration when approaching traffic lights, road junctions and traffic islands (if you ever come across one).

The freeways are not like our motorways, they do not necessarily have an on ramp where there is an off ramp, or vice versa, and sometimes, the on ramp is immediately before the off ramp and so you get traffic increasing its speed to join the freeway crossing traffic decreasing its speed to leave the freeway, quite dangerous if you are not aware of it.

There are some excellent rules for driving in the US, for example, you may continue to turn right at a red traffic light if it is safe to do so, this rule alone saves much of the waiting to turn right that we endure over in the UK. There are what they call pool lanes, normally the farthest lane to the left and marked with a diamond sign, these lanes are only for vehicles with more than two passengers.

Although the above seems to be detrimental to driving and drivers in the US, actually, as long as you maintain concentration in the areas mentioned, I still enjoy driving in the US as I used to in the UK.

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Page added on: 18 March 2007
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