Safety Tips and Information for Driving in the U.S.

Driving for the first time in the U.S. can be shocking for many drivers because of the high rate of speed on most roads and the broad range of signs that drivers have to quickly read. Police have a strong presence on the roads in the U.S., and they will often pull people over for relatively minor traffic violations. Therefore, it is important for drivers to understand how to drive safely on U.S. roads to avoid getting in an accident or experiencing problems with the police.

1. Drive on the Right Side of the Road

Every driver who travels on U.S. roads should know that cars are required to drive on the right side of the road in all 50 states. Solid yellow lines in the center of the roadway clearly divide traffic, and drivers should abide by these lines at all times. Driving over a solid yellow line to the opposite side of the roadway is dangerous and can result in a serious traffic violation. Only pedestrians are supposed to walk on the left side of the road so that they can see oncoming traffic. When in a car or motorcycle, therefore, you should always stay on the right side of the road.

2. Never Drive After Consuming Alcohol

In many countries, driving while under the influence of alcohol is considered a minor offense and rarely prosecuted. The U.S., on the other hand, imposes very harsh penalties on intoxicated drivers who are caught operating a vehicle. In some states, you can spend up to a year in prison and face fines of over $10,000 for being caught with a blood alcohol level exceeding 0.08 percent. As in all countries, driving under the influence of alcohol is also a serious danger to your passengers and other drivers. To stay safe on the roadway, never get behind the wheel when you have recently been drinking.

3. Be Sure to Get Insurance

The U.S. imposes mandatory insurance requirements on all drivers. Police can ask you to produce valid insurance cards or SR22 documents proving that you have insurance. The requirements for SR22 vary from state to state, but almost all drivers who are considered "high risk" are required to carry SR22 documentation. Some states also issue SR22 documentation in lieu of drivers posting a cash bond as proof of financial responsibility. The best way to figure out whether you need SR22 documentation in your situation is to talk to your insurance company.

4. Learn the Traffic Symbols

Some of the safest roads in the world are found in the U.S. because of the orderly way that traffic is directed with the help of road signs. Consequently, the U.S. has many more signs on public roads and highways than in other countries. To safely operate a vehicle, you should familiarize yourself with the most common road signs. Most bureau of motor vehicle offices can provide free booklets that explain the meaning of road signs in your state.

5. Drive in the Correct Lane

When driving in the U.S., it is very important to stay between the marked lines in your lane. Additionally, you will need to make sure that you are in the proper lane at all times. On highways with four lanes or more, slower traffic should stay as far right as possible on your side of the road. On highways with six lanes or more, the lane that is closest to the left on your side on the road is often reserved or only available for passing. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with what lane you should be driving in before setting out on a road trip.


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