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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.

Age Restrictions:

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

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.

Los Angeles Driving Guide - Spend less, do more

Los Angeles, or L.A. as it is known by its inhabitants is one of the world's most visited cities with millions of tourists visiting the “City of Angels” each year.

Perhaps Los Angeles is most famed for its contribution to movie production worldwide, with Hollywood a major attraction and many famous movies stars choosing to make the city their home.

But there is more to this area of California than the glamour and glitz of Tinsel Town, the shopping bliss of Rodeo Drive or the star gazing in Hollywood’s residential neighbourhood. Outside of the city, the open road is awaiting your rental car! Drive outside the city and visit some incredible places, often lost in the shadow of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles to Mecca Hills and the Joshua Tree National Park

2 hour 30 mins to Mecca Hills (157 miles)(252kms) via I-10 E

Situated in the Colorado Desert, Mecca Hills offers an excellent location, if you are physically fit. The hills themselves are filled with numerous hiking trails, including a relatively short one through the Painted Canyon. This canyon has some unique rock formations and the walls of the canyon itself are filled with minerals of various colours, hence its name. If you do not feel too active, opt for a Jeep tour through the canyon instead.

Other attractions in the area include the famed Joshua Tree National Park, a mere 20 miles from Mecca Hills. This national park also has numerous hiking trails, camping facilities, offers rock climbing and is filled with a large range of fauna, flora and birds.

Mecca Hills accommodation options are extremely sparse, in fact, a far better option would be to overnight in the Joshua Tree National Park. Here accommodation includes camping (the most affordable option), to various hotel choices. Motels, guest houses, self-catering venues and bed and breakfast establishments can also be found in the surrounding towns.

Los Angeles to Borrego Springs

3 hours to Borrego Springs (173 miles) (278kms) via CA-79 S

Set in Anzza-Borrego, the largest state park in California, the small town of Borrego Springs (population 3500), has many tourist attractions. In fact, tourism is the town’s primary source of revenue.

Of course, the state park is a major attraction, but the town also features four golf courses! Other attractions include horseback riding, birding, as well as astronomy (the town is California’s first Dark Sky Community). If you are looking for a daredevil adventure, consider a trip to the Ocotillo Wells Vehicular Recreation Area. This ATV park is open each and every day and consists of an 85 000-area wilderness area where you can rent off-road vehicles of various descriptions and ride them to your heart's content! Guided tours through the wilderness are available but sometimes it's just better to explore on your own. One of the major attractions, Devil’s Slide, a 200ft-high granite island, is home to some old mine shafts, some which, it is rumoured, are haunted.

Borrego Springs accommodation includes lodges, motels, guest houses, lodges and a few hotel options.

Los Angeles to Big Bear Lake

2 hours to Big Bear Lake (100 miles) (160kms) via I-10 E

Situated roughly 2 hours east of Los Angeles, Big Bear Lake offers not only a stunning location but numerous activities including swimming, hiking, various forms of boating, fishing and other sports.

Make sure you spend some time climbing the trail up to Castle Rock for stunning views of the lake and surrounds. Other attractions encompass restaurants, bars, the Big Bear Historical Museum, mountain biking, bobsledding (in summer and winter) and camping.

Big Bear Lake accommodation incorporates some excellent low budget options of which camping is not only the most inexpensive but the most fun as well!  Other options are bed and breakfast establishments, condos, cottages, cabins, lodges, hostels and hotels.

With the money that you save on car rental at Cheaperthancars and the choices on deals and places to stay with Cheaperthanhotels, we really do believe you’ll have to do more when you get there.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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