America’s Signage and Streets: A Mini-Guide for Driving in the U.S.A.

by Julia on August 26, 2016

Whether you plan to be motoring in the U.S. for business or for pleasure, there are a number of things you’ll need to understand about driving a motor car on the other side of “the pond.” If you’re reading this whilst flying across the Atlantic, pay close attention to the savvy info contained herein, and you’ll be prepared to take on American highways and byways by the time you touch down.

How to rent a car in the United States

Shop online for a fair hire price, and make your car reservation before you embark on your trip to the U.S. You’ll spare yourself plenty of confusion upon arrival. VisitTheUSA notes the wisdom of checking to see if your own car insurance policy will cover a rental car abroad.

To pick up your car at the rental shop, you will need to show your valid driver’s license. As long as the license is written in English, you won’t need to show an international license. Most car rental agencies allow licensed drivers age 25 or older to operate a for-hire vehicle. Everyone who intends to drive the rental car will be required to show their valid license when you pick up the car and get the keys. Speaking of keys, make sure you drop off the car before your allotted time to avoid late fees. Some rental agencies allow after-hours key drops, so you can return your rental car on time.

One more thing to remember about American rental cars is to always return them with a full tank of fuel. If you don’t, the rental company may charge a ridiculous fee to top off the tank.

Big and little differences between UK and American driving

The most obvious and confounding difference between U.K. and U.S.A. driving is the side of the road on which to drive. Unless a roadway is clearly marked for one-way travel, you must always drive on the right side of the road. For this reason, steering wheels are located on the left side of the front seat of virtually all motor vehicles in America.

One of the things about driving American roadways that will feel familiar from the start is the happy fact that street signage is written in English. Of course, if you visit a state such as California, you will come across numerous street names that are in Spanish, but directional signs, highway numbers, and freeway designations are always given in proper English.

Savvy tips for road travelers

When you’re driving on a rainy day or in a foggy area, you can usually find a white stripe painted along the farthest right edge of the road. This “fog line” also gives drivers a way to watch where they’re going despite the glare of oncoming headlights.

Don’t think that because you do not see a highway patrol car, your speed is not being monitored. Most U.S. States allow law enforcement officers to check your speed with radar. Because of this, you can be caught speeding just about anywhere at any time. Stay within the speed limit whenever possible.

If you should inadvertently put the wrong sort of petrol in your rental car, don’t try to drive. Contact the rental company, and they will send someone to amend the situation. In the U.K., you can call on to quickly fix a wrong-fuel problem.

In most U.S. States, it’s against the law to use a cell phone to talk or to text while operating a motor vehicle. Actually, this is a good law that saves lives. There’s no good reason to distract yourself with a phone when you ought to be paying attention to the road. Always wear a seat belt, too. This is the law in every American state.

Watch out for cars that “pass” or overtake. Unfortunately, a lot of otherwise kind Americans forget their good manners when driving a car, so it’s up to everyone else to remain aware.

America’s most famous roadways

There are a number of historical highways in North America, but none is more famous than Route 66. The road extends through the heart of the U.S. from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. Once you’re in California, catch Highway 101 to enjoy a cruise up the coast and across San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge.

Be patient, and have your passenger read maps so you can concentrate on the road ahead. Above all, be sure to enjoy your American roadtrip.


My name Is Ansis Zviedris from Latvia. I studied construction for 8 years in capital of Latvia- Riga – where I got my construction degree. When I was 23 I decided that I wanted to see the world and I went to see United Kingdom. I worked in a factory and became Quality Control Expert. I joined a company called General Electric and was assigned as quality assurance consultant for huge Integration project in China. Back in the UK in parallel I was running my own car sales and car repair business. After spending almost a year in China I came back and decided to join Hearing Aid manufacturing Giant GN Resound. During these years I have gained huge experience in manufacturing processes, Quality Management Systems and vehicle repair industry. I decided to put all my knowledge together and create a strong business, where I can put all my time and energy. A mobile car repair business and ISO Quality system implementation have been my main business activities for last 4 years.

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