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Driving Tips in USA

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco

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Car Hire Depots | Driving Licence | Insurance | Driving Age | Driving Rules | Equipment | Speed Limits | Drink Driving | Tolls | Road Signs | Driving to Canada | Winter Driving | Credit Card

Where can I collect my car hire?

DriveAway offers the best rates and choices with reputable suppliers in the USA. Our Suppliers are located throughout major cities of USA. Some of our major locations are below but there are many more! Our locations include a wide range of rail stations, airport and downtown/city locations. Enter your city in the booking engine to see for yourself if we can provide the best price on car hire in your chosen location.


Do I need a International Drivers Permit (IDP) to hire a car?

A full valid drivers licence is required for a minimum of 1 year (not permitted for any provisional licenses). An International Driving Permit (IDP) is a translation of a valid Australian Driver's license in nine languages. It is a mandatory document for Australian drivers licence holders in many countries. Taking an IDP is recommended in the USA and not mandatory. It is important to note an IDP is only valid with a home state license.


Do I need to purchase insurance for the car?

In the USA all DriveAway vehicles come with nil excess, so you can drive stress-free. So there is no need for extra insurance. DriveAway also offer Breakdown Protection in the USA.


What are the minimum and maximum age restrictions?

Generally the minimum age is 20 or 21 years, it varies between the car hire supplier and vehicle make. Many premium, SUVs, vans and luxury vehicles have a minimum age of 25. For drivers between the ages of 20 - 25 a young driver surcharge (YDS) will apply. Maximum age limits generally do not apply, however please check the terms and conditions when making an enquiry or booking.


Utah Road

What are the general rules, laws and regulations?

General driving rules, laws and regulations in the United States of America;


What are the child safety seat requirements?

Child Safety Seat rules and regulations in the USA varies from state to state. Any children under 8 years of age should be seated in an appropriate child restraint, however the maximum age may differ depending on the state laws. Be sure to book the correct seat for your child's age as manufacturers child seat do vary in size. Please check prior to booking if a child seat is available to hire, in some cases you can bring your own child seat, hire at a baby equipment/ gear company, or purchase a child seat whist travelling. In most states, children under the age of 16 can only be seated in the back seats. More information can be provided at time of booking or when making a enquiry.

USA Speed Sign

What are the driving speed limits?

Speed is measured and displayed in miles per hour (mph) and in most states the maximum speed limit allowed is either 65-70mph (110km/h) mainly used on motorways. Speed limits will vary depending on the state, so always keep and eye out for road signage. Highway speed limits can range from a low 25 mph (40km/h) to a high of 85 mph (137km/h). Throughout the USA radars are used by authorities to enforce speed limits and because of the different laws and regulations in each state, penalties for any traffic violation will vary. In most cases a fine will be given which can be quite hefty.


Can I drive to Canada or Mexico?

Most car hire companies will allow you to drive to Canada, however the vehicle must be collected and returned back to the US. One ways from the US to Canada and vice versa are not permitted. Some car hire companies will allow you to travel to Tijuana only. One ways from the US to Mexico and vice versa are not permitted. Make sure you check at time of enquiry or booking for any terms and conditions.


What are the rules and regulations against drink driving?

As you may know, laws and regulations varies from state to state, but in most states the allowable alcohol limit while driving stays relatively the same at 0.08mg/ per 100ml of blood. However in some states such as Colorado have a limit of 0.05mg/ per 100ml of blood. Being caught driving under the influence can result in costly fines and legal fees and driving with a high alcohol level can lead to severe punishments, differing across different states. To avoid any confusion, don't drink and drive!


How do tolls operate with car hire?

There are a number of roads and bridges in the USA where a toll is payable. The majority of toll roads in the USA have now implemented electronic toll collection points, where a RFID tag is affixed on the front windscreen and when passing a toll gate a RF tag reader picks up the tag information from above (approx 5 metres away) and debits the tag holders account for the toll. Cash payment is still option at some, however, if a rental car passes the toll gates and fail to pay, the hirer will receive a toll notice/invoice from the supplier.

USA Yield Sign

What are the road signs?

In the United States, road signs are standardized by federal regulations, and are similar to signs in Australia.


Do I require a credit card while travelling?Credit Card

It is highly recommended to travel with a credit card in the US as most car hire companies require main drivers to hold a valid credit card in their name order to collect the vehicle. The service desk will ask for a bond with the driver's credit card at time of vehicle collection. Most depots and locations will not accept debit cards or cash bonds. This is also vital for tolls with electronic systems to automatically deduct the cost from the card holder's credit card.


Do I need winter tyres to drive in Winter?

There is no legal requirement for the use of snow tyres or snow chains and most vehicles are fitted with All season tyres. Driving in winter conditions may be hazardous for the unprepared driver, drivers must stay alert and drive carefully below speed limits. Drivers may want to reconsider driving in situations where they are not comfortable with.


DriveAway’s Top USA Drives

At DriveAway, we love the USA as a self-drive holiday destination! With such a vast landscape, you can experience everything from desert to high alpine regions. The USA caters to every season and every taste, from those looking for culture, music or exploration of the great outdoors. Every state has something different on offer, below we have some tours of some of our favourite drives so you can make the most of your next holiday!

Find out more below:


All information provided is to be used as a guide only. Distances and time may very according to the route taken. The information shown on this page may have changed since the date of publication. Please refer to the countries local tourist office for up-to-date advice. Last updated: June 2019.