By Darren Griffiths

Driving Tips When Hiring a Car in America

25th December 2023

In this article, we share with you the most important driving tips we’ve learned from hiring a car in America on several occasions and driving from one side of the country to the other on a whole host of epic road trips. We tackle the different kinds of car cultures, driving on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, driving restrictions, the best cars to hire for a road trip in America, as well as a list of items you need to have and to carry that you may not have been aware of.

Driving in America: What to get excited about

It can prove challenging for people traveling from one country to another to adjust to their specific driving rules, learn how to manipulate the roads, and perhaps even operate a car differently.

That’s true when you come to the United States from maybe the United Kingdom or perhaps a location in Europe where driving is entirely different.

The task proves to be a necessity since there is little other transportation in the way of buses or trains.

Fortunately, many travelers are attracted to the car culture on this side of the map and look forward to the opportunity to test the roads here in one of the many car rental choices.

This includes the potential for a convertible, SUV, massive truck, compact sports car, and so much more.

There are many choices for tourists on the wide-open road (compared to some of the networks back home.)

Generally speaking, your rental car largely depends on where you want to go. If you plan to go off-roading, a vehicle like the Isuzu D-MAX is a good choice.

Mountain Maryland byway
Mountain Maryland byway, USA

Note that while this model is available in the U.K., it may not be the case in the U.S., so ask the rental company.

Some things require getting used to, such as driving on the right side of the road, plus the need to deal with freeways and go head-to-head with the big rigs.

But the most important aspect of car rental is learning and understanding the regulations. This includes:

  • when you come to a four-way stop who gets to go
  • speed limits vary between states – this isn’t a national system, but a state-regulated one. They vary not just for freeway speed limits, but also for school zones and residential areas.
  • Always check with car rental companies to see if you can take your car outside the state (hello Texas).

Let’s look at some ways you can have fun while in the U.S. but stay safe at the same time.

Driving Tips When Renting A Car in The United States

When looking for a way to travel within the United States, a trusted supplier like Goautos. no-leiebil USA, can offer the ideal car rental. They are less likely to be able to give you driving instructions.

Northeastern United States Autumn/Fall Road Trip
Northeastern United States Autumn/Fall Road Trip

The company can provide you with the car you’ve always wanted to drive on the roadways you wish to experience, but the rules and regulations will be something you need to research and attempt to understand before making the trip.

Traveling from other countries, you will notice that driving in America is far different than, say, all locations in Europe and the United Kingdom as a whole.

That means you will be entirely out of your element, putting you in harm’s way if you don’t practice for a bit when you arrive to attempt to grasp the unusual concept from what you’re used to—some things you need to know upon arriving.

Restrictions for drivers in the United States

Renting a vehicle in the USA generally requires a passport and visa, which are general requirements to enter the country at all.

In most instances, you need to be over the age of 21, but there are a lot of companies that insist you be above the age of 25 before they entrust the care of a car to you.

Generally, anyone between the ages of 21-24 will see exceptionally higher fees than those over the age of 25 for their daily rate, and there are cases where companies will raise that age limit to 28.

Young drivers have limited experience and are viewed as a liability with the potential for causing damages to rental vehicles, thus the policy.

Those coming from the United Kingdom need only have their U.K. license to rent a car in the States, but this needs to be something you’ve had for over a year.

Tips for rental car drivers in America

In many cases, drivers will find themselves traveling on the interstates, which go for miles throughout the United States.

This means a traveler should rent a car with the capacity to handle this type of journey in a comfortable and smooth capacity.

Small, compact vehicles that are common on a European roadway will not be efficient on a freeway. Instead, you will need a diesel 2.0 or something with good fuel economy.

What should a traveler carry in their vehicle while driving

Vehicles should be equipped with warning triangles to sit alongside the road in cases of emergency. Drivers are not required to have reflective jackets according to U.S. regulations.

Driving on the right hand side can be a challenge if you're not used to it
Driving on the right-hand side can be a challenge if you’re not used to it

It’s essential to know that cell phone use is banned in most states throughout the country while driving, but even in those states that allow the service, it’s recommended to incorporate a hands-free system.

Proof of insurance needs to be carried at all times in a vehicle, as does proof of ownership or the rental agreement which the supplier will provide. The “checklist” you should consider includes:

  1. Warning triangles
  2. Valid driver’s license
  3. car rental Insurance credentials
  4. passport/national ID

With each country, there might be different requirements, and each state may vary. It’s essential to check for your location and the destination that you specifically will need to have.

Tolls and gas prices are something each driver needs to be aware of

In the United States, there are toll roads in certain areas before you enter larger cities with a standard fee like New York requires $14. Another thing to consider is gas prices.

These have become significantly higher in the current year, but that needs to be compared to the country from which you come.

Perhaps, these are lower, maybe higher, but it’s essential to research all of these things, so you’re prepared with adequate funds when you arrive.

United States motorists don’t always follow their own rules

While it is a rule to use a signal when changing lanes or turning, American drivers are not always courteous about using signals.

Delaware Valley road trip
Our Delaware Valley road trip, USA

That means you need to be particularly mindful of the mirror at all times to ensure no one is sliding over in front of you in a lane or suddenly making a turn that you might not be prepared for.

It would be best if you also had some inclination to the rules of the road, like what to do when you come to a four-way stop sign or when you’re able to make a turn at the red light and when you should sit still.

Drivers in America can prove to be somewhat aggressive if you’re slow and unsure about the ways of the road, and not necessarily polite when someone isn’t following the guidelines.

No one considers that it might be an individual traveling from out of state or even possibly a student driver.

Everyone is always in such a rush with very little patience in this country. That’s also something that an international visitor needs to understand and find a way to contend with when choosing to get a car rental.

Car rental and on-road driving culture shock

Traveling from other countries to the United States and renting a car for travel can prove to be a culture shock in itself as driving here is considerably different than most anywhere else.

There’s nothing like hiring a car for the sense of freedom you get when on holiday

The experience requires a bit of practice or guidance before actually attempting to navigate in traffic. Plus, it’s imperative to have the necessary paperwork and documentation to operate a vehicle within the country.

It depends on which country you come from and the destination state, the documentation that will be necessary. Each state is different, and the United States has other arrangements with various countries.

For instance, the United Kingdom need only have a valid driver’s license plus, of course, a passport and visa.

But this can be different from country to country. It’s essential to check all the requirements before traveling to ensure compliance.

Drivers might not have time to fit in a driving course to learn all the rules and regulations of the roadways, but it is wise to attempt to gain knowledge of some of the basic guidelines.

That would include what to do at a four-way stop or turning right on a red light to avoid the persistence of impatient Americans who do not know they’re intolerant of someone who is genuinely unaware.

Some American drivers can be aggressive and unforgiving on the road, but not enough to cause a pleasant trip to be disrupted.

Successfully navigating the roads can take a bit of practice and a little guidance before making the trip. Look here more for tips on driving in the USA. There are plenty of reasons to enjoy road trips in America once you get the hang of it.