Driving Tips for U.S.
Driving in a foreign country can be daunting, especially if you don’t know the rules. If you’re planning on driving while in the United States, read the basics guidelines below.
You’ll need to bring your driver’s license and proof of insurance. Check with your insurance company to see if it will cover you for driving in a foreign country; otherwise, you will need to purchase insurance when you rent a car. The U.S. Government recommends you bring an International Driver Permit (IDP). The IDP is just a translation of your license into 10 languages; you must get an IDP in your home country before leaving, as the U.S. doesn’t issue them to tourists from other countries.
In the United States, laws vary by state, including the standard driving age. For instance, New Jersey makes kids wait until they are 17 to receive a license, while South Dakota allows kids as young as 14 to have a driver’s license (though it is restricted). On average, the legal age for a licensed driver is 16-years-old (or 16 ½), but check the laws for the states you’ll be traveling in to find out the legal age. Also, keep in mind that most rental companies won’t rent to young adults under 21 and have steep fines for those over 21 but under 25, so check with your car rental company for age restrictions.
Driving Rules and Regulations
- Drive on the right hand side of the road
- Give way to other cars on the left hand side of the road
- Always use indicator while turning
- Always give priority to emergency services vehicles
- Everyone in the car must be wearing a seatbelt
- Except hands-free system, mobile phones should not be used
- Illegal to carry radar detectors
- Always carry license while driving
- Should obey traffic signs
- Pedestrians generally have the right-of-way
Speed Limits and Fines
Speed limits also vary, but they are posted on roads in miles per hour. The normal speed limits on US roads are as follows:
- 113 km/h (70 mph) on highways
- 40 km/h (25 mph) in residential areas
School zones and construction zones often have lower speed limits posted, and fines can double or even triple in these zones. Fines can range anywhere from $30 up to $500, depending on where you are.
Drunk driving is illegal in all 50 states, defined as a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08mg/ per 100ml. However, you can incur increased penalties with higher BAC, from 0.15 to 0.25, depending on the state. It’s best not to risk it, as you can receive a hefty fine (up to $2,000) and possibly jail time. You also may need to go before the court on a charge such as Driving Under the Influence, which is not something you would want to deal with while on vacation.
Be aware of "no parking" signs. Generally, parking on the street will be marked, such as “2 Hour Parking.” However, never park at a red curb, as those are restricted to emergency vehicle use. Also, pay attention to places you need to pay for parking; your car can be towed if you park without paying.
Though laws vary by state, you’ll find that many laws are similar across the U.S. Most roads are well-marked, so you should do just fine on your next road trip if you pay attention to the road signs.
Las Vegas Driving Guide - Spend less, do more
Las Vegas, situated in the state of Nevada, is perhaps one of the most famous destinations in world tourism. “Sin City” as it is fondly known, is home to lavish mega-hotels, some of the world’s most famous casinos and spectacular entertainment.
Las Vegas is often called the “Entertainment Capital of the World”, and while this may be very true, Vegas have a number of beautiful locations, situated within close proximity. So when the neon of “Sin City” gets a little too much, hop in a rental car and seek out those hidden gems in the surrounding countryside.
Las Vegas to the Valley of Fire State Park
1 hour (48 miles) (77kms) to Las Vegas via I-15 N and Valley of Fire Hwy
The Valley of Fire State Park is an area of stunning beauty and a photographer’s delight. Named after a multitude of flaming red rock spires that dot the landscape, the park is the oldest and largest to be found in Nevada.
When travelling to the park consider the most scenic route that takes in Lake Mead as well. This will take you to the east entrance of the park itself.
Activities in the park include picnicking, camping and many hiking trails. The park is also filled with fauna and flora unique to the area. Be sure to stop at the visitor centre for comprehensive information about the park itself, the animals in it and activities allowed. Don’t miss out on visiting Rainbow Vista, Atlatl Rock, Fire Canyon and the Silica Dome, some of the top attractions in the park.
Although the Valley of Fire State Park is relatively close to Las Vegas, consider staying over for a night just to see the spectacular sunsets and sunrises the park has to offer. These are a photographer’s dream!
Accommodation options in the Valley of Fire State Park include campsites, RV sites as well as motels, hotels and lodges in Overton, the closest town to the park itself.
Las Vegas to Death Valley
2hour 10 mins (123 miles) (141.6 mi) (226kms) via US-95 N
Slightly more than a two-hour trip to the north-west of Las Vegas lies the famed Death Valley. Despite its somewhat sinister name, Death Valley has many attractions to offer the intrepid traveller.
As a suggestion, head for Furnace Creek. Not only will you find an area with excellent restaurants and shopping opportunities, but many of Death Valley’s premier tourist locations are not far from here. These include the hiking trails at Golden Canyon (2 mile or 4 mile trails), Artists Drive (this scenic drive takes in the beautiful volcanic and sedimentary hills of the area), Devil’s Golf Course, Natural Bridge, 20 Mule Canyon, Stovepipe Wells and Badwater (the lowest point in the United States).
Accommodation options in Death Valley include camping, RV sites, as wells as many other options at Furnace Creek, such as hotels, motels, lodges and bed and breakfast establishments.
Las Vegas to Lake Mead
45 mins (30 miles) (48kms) via I-515 S and US-93 S
If you prefer not to travel too far from Vegas, Lake Mead is well worth a visit.
Stop at the visitor centre to find out all the attractions in the area around Lake Mead, of which there are many. Consider hiring a bicycle and embarking on some bike trails in the area. These include the Lake Mead Trail, the Historic Railroad Trail or the Mountain Loop trail. The longest of these, the Mountain Loop trail is over 35 miles long and connects Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam as well as Boulder City.
Other attractions in the area include the Las Vegas Boat Harbour which offers cruises or boat rentals. Take a cruise and a guided tour of the lake on the Desert Princess, a traditional steamboat.
With so much to see and do, you may consider an overnight stay in the area. Accommodation options at Lake Mead include inns, resorts, spas, camping areas, motels, hotels and many more options.
At Cheaperthancars and also Cheaperthanhotels, we believe that with the money you save on the choice of accommodations and rental cars, the more you will have more to do when you get there.
Your Cheaperthancars Team
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