Driving in the United States of America
Key road rules in the USA you need to know
When you are hiring a car abroad, it’s useful to be prepared for the different driving laws in the country you are travelling to as well as checking the documents you need to carry.
To help make your trip to as smooth as possible, we've put together some of the key road rules in the USA.
- These rules are to be used as a guide and are subject to change. Please check with your Avis representative if you have any questions.
- Your Avis representative can advise you on toll and road charges before leaving the Avis car hire location and whether snow tyres or chains are needed.
Take a look at our USA location page for ideas, travelling tips and booking information.
Frequently asked questions
What side of the road do they drive on in the USA?
In the USA, they drive on the RIGHT-HAND side of the UK.
What are the driving requirements in the USA?
The legal driving age is 16-18 for an unrestricted licence. In New York and Michigan, you can rent a car at 18 years or older. For most other states the minimum age to rent is 21.
Can I use my UK driving licence in the USA?
All drivers in the U.S. must have a valid driver’s licence. Some states require you to have an International Driving Permit (IDP).
Are there any rules on on-street parking I need to know in the USA?
Parking five metres either side of a fire hydrant is prohibited. You can park on streets where the curb isn’t painted, but check signage for timing advice. The rules for coloured curbs differentiate between states.
Are there special road rules I need to know for driving in the USA?
At some intersections you’ll find a red flashing light in place of a STOP sign which acts in the same way. The car that arrives first has the right of way and if more than one car arrives at the same time, the car to the left must yield.
Are there any unique traffic signs I need to know in the USA?
Generally, regulatory signs are white, warning signs are yellow or orange, and guidance signs are green.
This symbol means be aware of emergency vehicles unexpectedly entering the road.
What are the laws on overtaking in the USA?
Overtaking is called ‘passing’ in the USA. It’s legal on roads with four lanes or more. On two-lane roads with sufficient sight distance, you may pass a vehicle unless it’s preparing to turn left.
What are the rules on alcohol in the USA?
It’s illegal to drive over the limit. The BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) limit is 0.08% – if you reach or exceed this limit you could be charged with a DUI.
What are the rules on using headlights in the day in the USA?
Headlights are required to be on half an hour before sunrise and half an hour after sunset, or when visibility is less than 200 feet.
Do the same road rules in place across the whole country?
Driving laws across the country are largely the same, although each state has the authority to set its own traffic laws.
What if I break down in the USA?
Turn on your hazards. If possible, aim to pull off onto the right shoulder. If it’s an emergency call 911. Place your reflective triangle behind the car if it’s safe to do so. If you require our Roadside Assistance, please call us on 800-354-2847.
Does the USA have toll roads?
How do I pay road tolls in the USA?
An average toll will cost you about $5. Most highway tolls are booth-less. Instead, your plates are registered and a bill is sent by mail. Tolls with booths accept cash and debit/credit cards.
Unique Country Driving Laws
- Do not use mobile phone to call or text while driving.
- On Roundabouts (Traffic Circles or Rottary), drivers to the left have right of way.
- America is full of Toll Roads, also known as Turnpikes. Keep lots of spare change in your car as only some booths accept Debit and Credit cards.
- Do not overtake school buses.
- Please be aware you may turn right at lights (in some States, when shown by signs).
- If pulled over by Police, do not exit your vehicle. Turn the ignition off and sit patiently with your hands visible.
Each State will have its own speed regulations to abide by, please use this as a guide to road speeds, not the actual State traffic speed limits:
- Urban areas: 20 - 35 mph
- School Zone: 10 - 20 mph
- 2 lane Highway:55 - 65 mph
- Motorways:65 - 70 mph
Please be aware of changing speeds indicated by road signs.
Child Safety / Seatbelt Laws
It is compulsory for all inside the vehicle to be wearing a seatbelt, you will be fined.
- Each State has its own rules and regulations about child seats and seatbelt laws.
Please note - It is the child’s parent / guardian or vehicle renter’s responsibility to fit the child seat.
- Fire Department