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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.

Seattle Driving Guide – SPEND LESS, DO MORE

Welcome to Seattle.

This young city really only started to find its identity amongst Americas great places from the 1960s, as more and more well known people became identified with it as their birth or growing up place.

The art and music scene contributed to by names that inspired its growth, such as Dale Chihuly, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Macklemore give this place an edge that perhaps no other US city has. There are pubs, a waterside sculpture park, museums, converted warehouses to art galleries, night and day places to hang out all over the town — this is a city that won’t bore you at all.

Coupled with this is the high energy presence of one of the World’s largest computer firms, Microsoft and home to its founder Bill Gates, to raise its identity in the technology and business world.

Then there is the natural setting of this city, situated on the waters of Puget Sound surrounded by the grand forests of the Cascades and other areas only a few miles from Seattle’s CBD. This is a perfect place to rent a car and set the wheels in motion to lavish on the scenic countryside that surrounds it and capture some stunning vistas on your camera.

Here are some ideas that we put forward after talking to locals on places to take a drive to.

Seattle to Cape Flattery

4 h 33 min to Cape Flattery (159.9 mi) (257kms) via WA-112 W

Cape Flattery is America’s most northernmost point and considered the most beautiful place on the Makah Indian Reservation.

There are four observation points from the 60ft cliffs over the ocean, which allows you to take great pictures, and say “you’ve done it”. The drive here is pretty ordinary, especially when you consider the other areas of Washington State that are simply spectacular, and nothing to get excited about, but definitely getting here is a tick on the “must do bucket list” of places in the USA. So we have put it as number one for reasons of “I’ve been there” alone.

Cascade Loop

2-4days 440 miles (708kms)

Normally we don’t put drives as long as this, in as a suggestion. But this is a notable exception.

National Geographic describe this road journey as one of the most spectacular drives in North America.

You may want to factor in some overnight stays along the way.

The journey commences only 28 miles outside Seattle, takes you through the Cascade Mountains, down the Columbia River Valley, along the Glacier Lake Chelan, Methow Valley and the North Cascade National Park, all the way to Puget Sound. Without doubt this is the best road trip in the area — do not miss it!!

Seattle to Columbia River Gorge

3 h 18 min (180 miles) (289kms) via I-5 S

This is also known as Lewis and Clark's gateway to the Pacific, and comprises of an 80-mile long deep chasm with spectacular cascading waterfalls, volcanoes, and sumptuous vineyards.

Seattle to Mount Baker

2 h 43 min to Mount Baker Resort (116 miles) (187kms) via I-5 N

We put Mount Baker Resort in as a place to head for, but there are plenty of alternative points of beauty in the area. While you are climbing this active volcano you will see some of the most spectacular scenery from cascading waterfalls, dense green forests and the craggy peaks of the North Cascades.  This place will provide you with unforgettable photos.

These are just a few of the 25 or so drives recommended by locals that make this state a stunning motoring destination.

Staying overnight will inevitably be part of your plans, so we recommend choosing from one of the many options for places to stay on our discount accommodations website Cheaperthanhotels.  Together, with the money you save on your car rental in Seattle with Cheaperthancars, you will have more to spend when you get there.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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