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Topic: Driving laws in the US (differences to the UK)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Orlando, FL
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    Default Driving laws in the US (differences to the UK)

    Driving in the US is relatively easy, but there are a few differences in the laws that you may not encounter in the UK, and some quirky things that might catch UK drivers by surprise. Please add your experiences and ask any questions here!

    As each question or quirk comes up we'll add it to the main list so that you can scan through quickly.


    Turn Right On Red:You are allowed to turn right on a red light (unless the intersection has a sign that reads 'No right on red'). 'Right on red' is really easy, since you just turn in to the lane nearest you once traffic clears. You never cross any lanes to do it.

    Stop for school bus:You only have to stop for a school bus when its flashers are on, regardless of which side of the road you are on in relation to the bus. You'll have a warning though, since the bus will turn on yellow flashers first, indicating it's going to stop, then the red flashers will go on. You must leave a fair bit of space between your car and the back of the bus (so that children who may dart out between the back of the bus and your car are still safe). You can proceed once the flashers have gone off AND the red STOP sign attached to the driver's side of the bus has been retracted. BOTH of those things have to happen before you go again. It's easy to remember what to do, since the objective is to keep children who are crossing the road safe (they may forget to look both ways!). So stop and keep a good distance between you and them.

    Stop for emergency vehicles:You also have to stop (and pull as far to your right as possible) for an ambulance, fire truck, rescue truck or other emergency services vehicle (but not police cars) if its sirens are on, regardless of which side of the road you are on in relation to the emergency service vehicle. Ideally, you should pull onto the shoulder of the road if you're in a right-hand (or single) lane. Again, it's easy to remember if you just think about giving the emergency service vehicle as much room as possible without having to worry about what you're going to do. If you're stopped and off to the side, they know they have all the room to do do whatever they have to do. (Note: If you are in heavy traffic and cannot pull off the road or out of your lane, stop where you are and allow the emergency vehicle to pass before you move again.)

    Carrying alcohol in the car: Alcohol may be carried in the car, as long as it is not open and has never been opened (for example, a fifth of whiskey that's been opened but has been capped again is NOT ok). No open alcohol may be carried in the car at any time, by anyone, in any part of the car (including the boot). NOTE: This law applies in Florida but it varies by State.

    Overtaking on multi-lane roads: It is legal to overtake on the left or the right on multi-lane roads. (However, the left lane is considered the 'fast' lane, or the preferred lane for overtaking).

    Parallel parking: When parking alongside a kerb or when parallel parking, you must park so that your car is pointing in the same direction as traffic (front first). You must also park front-first in parking spaces so that your license plate (which is always on the back of the car) will show.
    Last edited by Susan Veness; 18-06-2008 at 01:28 PM.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Another difference is the carrying of alcohol. All alcohol has to be in the trunk [boot] of the car. This is different from England.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Northern England
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    Another fundamental difference is that in the US you can overtake to the left and to the right on multi-lane highways.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    not sure if its a law or just prefered but a believe you have to park front first so that you display your license plate to the road
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