Morning everyone Lewis here, sorry it’s been so long since our last blog but I’ve been on my holidays travelling the east coast of America. Whilst on my travels I drove from Orlando Florida down the east coast to Miami in South Florida so I thought this week I would return with a blog about driving stateside.
I’ve had plenty of experience driving on the right hand side of the road in many European countries and I’ve also driven a left-hand drive car on a racetrack here in the UK but this was my first experience driving on the wrong side of the road and on the wrong side of the car. Interesting…
Before picking up the hire car I decided to do a little bit of research about driving in America, especially in regards to the common do’s and don’t’s along with the basic rules of the road just so I was clued up prior to my 400 mile trip down south.
So this is what I found out; the speed limit in built-up areas is 35 miles an hour, slightly faster than here in the UK at only 30 miles an hour. When it rains lights must be on outside the vehicle and it appears that you don’t necessarily have to stop at zebra crossings or stop lines at the end of junctions although there is still some confusion about this.
I also find out that driving with alcohol in the cab of the car in Florida is illegal and all alcohol related products must be stored in the trunk of the vehicle (or the boot if you prefer)
When I started driving from Orlando I noticed that drivers can perform a ‘U’ turn on every block, it was hard to see most people turning because most vehicles don’t have conventional indicators like here in the UK but instead used brake lights as indicators.
Our journey took us from Orlando to Miami, approximately 400 miles along the Interstate 95. During the journey there were a lot of differences with the freeway compared to the UK motorway such as services being in the central area of the carriageway and can be accessed from both sides instead of having two separate services on the outer edges of carriageway back here.
I also noticed that lorries could actually travel at the same speed as all of the traffic unlike here where LGV’s have to travel usually several miles per hour slower.
Another key difference was that you could undertake as well as overtake which means passing a slow vehicle on both sides of the car. Although there were signs recommending slower traffic to keep to the far right hand lane a lot of people stayed in the middle and were being overtaken and undertaken throughout.
Miami was a maze of crossroads, America doesn’t seem to have heard of roundabouts. The crossroad procedure in America is slightly different to here in the UK, you initially get a green filter arrow allowing left turning traffic to proceed immediately, then followed by a single green circle and then the red light after, it took a little bit of working out but after some practice it started to flow nicely.
Filling the car up was also a different experience, you have to prepay for fuel and any unused fuel is then reimbursed and refunded at the kiosk. Nearly all vehicles were actually petrol cars with the price of petrol being around two dollars 30 per gallon which equates to approximately 34p a litre here, you can see why everybody drives in America. There is usually only one pump to use instead of various nozzles and then you select the grade of fuel required before filling up as normal.
We also experienced our first American yellow school bus in Miami, it turns out it’s actually state law to stop on both sides of the road if the school bus presents a stop sign as students need to cross in front or behind the bus before it moves off.
Overall it was a good experience driving in America, there was plenty of space on the road and most traffic was very pleasant, the only real downside was waiting at traffic lights unnecessarily. Anyway that’s it for my travels, please share with us your experiences of driving abroad…