USA DRIVING DISTANCES
- New York to Los Angeles(4500km approx.40hr)
- Seattle to Los Angeles (1800km approx.17hr)
- Houston to Chicago (1740km approx.16hr)
- Miami to Las Vegas (4000km approx.37hr)
- Chicago to Los Angeles (3250km approx.30hr)
- Los Angeles to Las Vegas (440km approx.4hr)
- San Francisco to Portland (1000km approx.10hr )
USA DRIVING RULES
Driver's Licence Requirements
A full valid drivers licence is required for a minimum of 1 year. An International Driving Permit is recommended but not mandatory for Australian drivers licence holders. An international drivers permit holds more authority when used with your home licence.
Generally, the minimum age is 21 years but can vary from different car hire companies and vehicle makes. A young driver surcharge (YDS) will apply, generally for drivers between the ages of 21 - 25. Maximum age limits generally do not apply, however, please check the terms and conditions when making an enquiry or booking.
General Driving Rules, Laws & Regulations
- Vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road.
- Pass others on the left-hand side of the road.
- All occupants of a vehicle must wear a seatbelt.
- A right turn is permitted at red traffic lights, but only after stopping, unless signed otherwise.
- Mobile Phones are not permitted while driving, with the exception of a hands-free system.
- Always use indicator lights when turning.
- Radar detectors are illegal in some states.
- All vehicles must give way to emergency services vehicles.
- Drivers are to carry at all times while driving, a valid drivers licence, registration documents and insurance documents.
Whilst there are no laws regarding equipment you must carry with you in the vehicle; it is important to make sure you are prepared for whatever driving conditions you may endure.
Child Safety Seats
Child Safety Seat rules and regulations in the USA varies from state to state. Any children under 6 years of age should be seated in an appropriate child restraint however, the maximum age may differ depending on the state laws. In most states, children under the age of 16 must be wearing a seat belt and only be seated in the back seats. More information can be provided at the time of booking or when making an enquiry.
Speed is measured and displayed in miles per hour (mph) and in most states, the maximum speed limit allowed is either 65-70mph (110km/h) mainly used on motorways. Speed limits will vary depending on the state, so always keep an eye out for road signage. Throughout the USA radars are used by authorities to enforce speed limits and because of the different laws and regulations in each state, penalties for any traffic violation will vary. In most cases, a fine will be given which can be quite hefty.
As you may know, laws and regulations vary from state to state, but in most states the allowable alcohol limit while driving stays relatively the same at 0.08mg/ per 100ml of blood. However, in some states such as Colorado have a limit of 0.05mg/ per 100ml of blood. To avoid any confusion, don't drink and drive!
There are a number of roads and bridges in the USA where a toll is payable. The majority of toll roads in the USA have now implemented electronic toll collection points, where an RFID tag is affixed on the front windscreen and when passing a toll gate an RF tag reader picks up the tag information from above (approx 5 metres away) and debits the tag holders account for the toll. Cash payment is still an option at some, however, if a rental car passes the toll gates and fail to pay, the hirer will receive a toll notice/invoice from the supplier.
In the United States, road signs are standardized by federal regulations and are similar to signs in Australia.
- Regulatory signs give specific instructions to road users, such as stop, yield (give way), speed limits and no parking signs. Regulatory signs are often red.
- Warning signs including tight turns, crossroads, merging traffic are usually in a diamond shape and are yellow.
- Roadwork signs are usually orange and guide signs are usually green.
- Motorist services and recreation signs (rest stops, picnic area etc) are blue or brown. These can vary per state so pay attention when crossing state borders.
Parking laws and regulations will vary from state to state, so be sure to check signage before leaving your vehicle for any restrictions and instructions. Most on-street parking in major cities and towns operate using the pay-n-display system, where a parking ticket is purchased from a machine near-by and placed on the front windscreen.
Visa, passport and entry requirements for Australians visiting the United States of America:
Australian citizens holding an Australian passport can travel to the United States visa-free on the Visa Waiver Program if the following requirements below are met by the individual;
- Must be travelling on an unexpired machine-readable passport. An e-Passport must be used for all passports renewed/extended after October 26, 2006. Must also have at least 6 months validity.
- Must be travelling for business or pleasure only (not Government business).
- Must be staying in the US for 90 days or less
- Must hold a return/onward travel ticket/itinerary.
All travellers under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). You will not be allowed to board a flight without holding a valid ESTA.
Contact the Embassy or Consulate of the United States of America in your local state for additional information regarding visas and/or entry requirements.
There is no legal requirement for the use of snow tires or snow chains and most vehicles are fitted with all-season tyres. Driving in winter conditions may be hazardous for the unprepared driver, drivers might want to consider driving in situations where they do not feel confident.
Tolls and Freeways
Toll expressways are located at different locations all over the US. The cost of these are usually a few dollars but it can vary depending on the time of day or car category.
The US uses HOT lanes and Toll express lanes. Certain conditions apply when entering this lane, mostly being a toll. You can recognize these lanes by the indication signs on the road. Some rental car suppliers offer prepaid toll options, ask about this when you pick up your rental car. You can also choose to pay a toll by cash or digital pre-paid service.
Cars can be driven through any state in the United States. Domestic one-way rentals are available between select locations and additional fees and minimum rental durations may apply. Not all vehicles are permitted on one-ways.
Most suppliers will allow travel to Canada but this must be pre-approved with the supplier and fees may apply. Some suppliers will allow travel to Mexico from certain locations but this must also be pre-approved and drivers may incur and surcharge. Travel to Alaska is generally permitted on paved roads with certain suppliers but will need to be noted at the time of booking. Please take a minute to ensure that your intended itinerary will be possible with the car you plan to rent.