Many visitors to Florida purchase a fly drive, so their first experience when arriving in the USA is to jump straight into a rental car and head off to their hotel or Florida villa rental. This is a very nervous time as drivers from the UK have to immediately adjust to driving on the wrong side of the road let alone understanding all the road signs and rules of the road. We hope this article will provide you with the information you need to have a safe and wonderful Florida Vacation
Getting your rental car in Florida!
When you arrive in Florida the first thing you will do is collect your rental car, we recommend that you either speak to them about getting a Sunpass for the toll roads or make sure you get at least $5 worth of quarters ready for your initial drive to your hotel or Florida villa. All the toll roads are CASH or Sunpass no credit cards are accepted.
Take time to learn the rental car controls and instruments
We all understand what it is like, kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement and all you want to do is throw the bags in the boot (trunk) load everyone up and get to your Florida villa, we recommend you take 5 minutes and work out where everything is, lights, windscreen wipers, horn, gear shift (Nearly every car is automatic but still understand how to use it, now is not the time to test sports mode). Setup the satellite system with your destination and you are ready to go.
USA Drives on the right
Remember that you will be driving on the right, so everything will now appear a little different, one tip I have is to remember that the driver sits in the middle of the road and the passenger is normally by the curb. Roundabouts are few and far between but yes you will go the opposite way round.
Stop means "STOP"
Coming from the UK it is more common to have Give Way signs versus stop signs and we are accustomed to crawling up to a junction and proceeding without coming to a full stop, however in the USA Stop does mean stop and the stop line is often further back than you would expect, you will be ticketed if you are caught crawling through without having come to that full stop first.
Right turn on RED
When arriving at traffic lights you will find that many drivers will be turning right even though the light is red, this is perfectly legal, except where the sign on the traffic lights states "No turn on Red" OR where there is a right turn traffic light, by that we mean a red light in the form of an arrow. Always perform a full stop before turning and give way to any traffic performing a U-Turn as they have priority.
If in the USA or Canada you can use these links below:
No doubt at some point you are going to miss your turning, in the USA it is common place to perform a U-Turn, all perfectly legal unless the sign says no U-Turns, becareful and just remember that although people turning right on red have to give way they maybe a tourist who has not read this article and may think they have right of way.
When driving down a freeway and an emergency vehicle has stopped you must pull over leaving one lane gap between you and the emergency vehicle, if you can not move over then you MUST slow down and do 20 mph less than the road speed limit.
It rains in Florida
It rains mostly in the afternoons and whenever it does rain you must put your lights on it's the law, some cars have an automatic setting that works when it gets dark enough, but to play safe just put your lights on. If it is raining heavily you may find that drivers keep their hazard lights on, this is not the law and I find it quite frustrating as you do not know if there really is a hazard or they just want to be seen, in the UK we would use the fog-light instead.
Undertaking and Overtaking
Drivers in the USA are not taught to undertake but it is common place and is not illegal, on many highways there are now signs saying that the left lane is for overtaking only but unfortunately it is frequently ignored. Be prepared and if on a multi-lane freeway expect people to be passing you on either side so use those mirrors!