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.
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 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.
Atlanta Driving Guide
Atlanta, the capital of the state of Georgia, is situated in the south-east of the country. The city itself was established in 1837 and today is an important capital of commerce in the United States as well as a key transport hub.
Perhaps best known as the birthplace of Dr Martin Luther King as well as been the centre of the civil rights movement, the city is the seventh most visited tourist city in the United States.
There are numerous excellent tourist attractions in and around the Atlanta with Civil War Museum, the childhood house of Dr Martin Luther King, the Atlanta Aquarium and the National Centre for Civil Rights proving popular. However, outside of Atlanta, one can find many excellent day trips, all within easy rental car reach.
We have some up with some drive ideas that we thought might whet your appetite for a drive out of Atlanta in your rental car.
Atlanta to the Providence Canyon State Park
2 hours to Providence Canyon State Park (147 miles) (236kms) via I-85 S and I-185 S
Fondly known as the “Little Grand Canyon”, the Providence Canyon State Park features around 1000 acres of deep, rocky canyon formations, all caused by poor farming techniques from the 1800’s. Some gullies are in fact over 150 feet deep! The park affords excellent scenic photography opportunities and is filled with numerous wildflowers including the rare Plumleaf Azalea, which blooms during July and August.
Special visitor areas offer exquisite views of the canyon while for the more active, over 3 miles of hiking trails are offered through various sections incorporating the canyon’s deep gullies themselves. For the less active, an easier backpacking route is also available. Other attractions in the park include camping, stargazing as well as beautiful picnic areas.
Be sure to visit the little town of Lumpkin on your way to the park. With a population of around 2700, Lumpkin was formerly a stagecoach town along the route from Atlanta to New Orleans. Filled with many historical attractions including Bedingfield Inn, a pre-Civil War village and a traditional 1800’s drug store, Lumpkin is well worth a visit.
Providence Canyon State Park accommodation options include camping facilities in the park itself as well as other options in the surrounding towns, of which Lumpkin is the closest. These include bed and breakfast establishments, small lodges and inns.
Atlanta to Chattanooga
1 hour 45mins to Chattanooga (117 miles) (188kms) via I-75 N
If you wish to cross into another state, consider a trip to the town of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This short trip is well worth it as Chattanooga is filled with many unique attractions. Riverwalk, situated near the town is a shopper and gastronome’s delight.
Chattanooga itself is a relatively large city with a population close to 200 000. Attractions in the city include the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga Zoo and cultural attractions, including numerous museums.
On your way to the city, be sure to stop at Lookout Mountain for incredible views of the surrounding countryside. Visit Ruby Falls, located within the mountain itself, a stunning underground waterfall.
Since it is a large city, Chattanooga accommodation options offer budget ranges across the board. These include self-catering units, bed and breakfast establishments, lodges, motels and hotels. There is so much to see and do in the city and surrounds that you may well consider staying over for a night to ensure you see everything!
Atlanta to Toccoa Falls
1 hour 30 mins to Toccoa Falls (93 miles) (149kms) via I-85 N, I-985 N and US-23 N
Certainly named correctly (Toccoa is the Cherokee word for “beautiful”), these falls are a quick trip to the north-east of Atlanta. These 186 feet falls are not only spectacular but also higher than the famed Niagara Falls by 26 feet.
The wooded area around the falls offers excellent picnic spots or hiking opportunities for the energetic. A gift shop near the falls provides beautiful mementoes of your visit as well as perishable goods produced in the area such as local honey. Of course, the real beauty of this area is the sheer number of photographic opportunities it presents.
Toccoa Falls accommodation is best found in Toccoa itself. Again, various budget options are available at our website Cheaperthanhotels including lodges, inns, motels and small hotels.
With the money you save on the car rentals at Cheaperthancars and places to stay at Cheaperthanhotels, you really will have spare change to use to enjoy your time when you get there.
Your Cheaperthancars Team
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