Modern America was built to be driven, so there’s no better way to get around on holiday than by hire car. But driving in Florida – or anywhere else in the USA – needn’t be daunting. Whether you’re new to navigating US roads or just need a quick refresher, our tips will make your drive all the more enjoyable.
Before you set off
As we all know that Americans drive on the right, so you’ll be sat on the left side of the car as driver. So you must be familiar with this. But the good news is the roads in Florida are famously wide and straight, providing ample space for you to get accustomed to the change. Take your time to get to know your Alamo Rent A Car before you set off.
Adjust your seat and mirrors, and familiarize yourself with your Alamo Rent A Car hire car’s air-con, lights, radio and wipers.
You can also include GPS in your hire package for easier navigation.
You will be excited to know that the majority of American cars are automatic, which are relatively simple to drive – move the gear stick to ‘D’ for ‘Drive’, ‘R’ for reverse and ‘P’ to park. And use your right foot to brake and accelerate.
Please remember to keep your driver’s license and rental agreement handy – you’ll need to keep them with you when you drive.
On the road
The Sunshine State offers up one of the world’s best driving routes – the 128-mile Overseas Highway, which links up the tiny islands of the wonderful Florida Keys. But wherever you’re driving in Florida, you’ll want to ensure you’re following appropriate driving rules and guidelines for your journey – from speed limits and stop signs to gas stations and turning left. There are radars installed in most of the Highways so please drive within the speed limits.
Toll booths: Depending on where you’re driving in Florida, you’ll likely come across a few toll roads, particularly around Orlando. These can vary in price, from 50c to $2, so be sure to carry some spare change with you. If your route covers lots of tolls, you can make use of our TollPass™ service, which sees you breeze through toll booths with ease.
Turning left: Treat a left turn in the US the same way as you would a right turn in the UK – looking both ways before proceeding. Remember you may well have to turn across incoming traffic. Busy junctions often have left-turn filter lanes with markers along the turn, so follow them to keep in the correct lane.
Turning right: When approaching a traffic signal, you must come to a complete stop at the marked line. However, if the way is clear, you are permitted to turn right on a red light at most intersections.
Overtaking: Unless stated otherwise, you should overtake on the left-hand side and give way to the right in the USA. If overtaking on both sides of the road is permitted, signage should be present to notify drivers. If you see that another vehicle wants to move past you, it’s advisable to stick to the speed limit and let them pass safely.
Petrol (gas) stations: These sometimes require you to pay up front before fuelling up. Park up, go into the station to pay, and then fill up your car. If you don’t use the full amount paid, you’ll get a refund. Fuel is measured by the gallon – equal to just over 4.5 litres.
Driving to the Walt Disney World® Resort
Florida is generally well signposted, and the same goes for the area surrounding the Walt Disney World® Resort. The park lies off Interstate 4, just southwest of Orlando and west of Florida’s Turnpike. Once you enter the grounds, you’ll also find it easy to navigate around its hotels, theme parks and car parks.
The rules of the road
Driving in Florida has its own set of rules and regulations which may differ from what you’re used to. These are also subject to change, so be sure to consult before setting off on your journey.
You must turn your headlights on during rain, smoke or fog. Florida is known for its heavy downpours, so take extra care when driving in the rain. If it’s extremely wet, it’s not unusual to pull over somewhere safe until it passes.
If you’re pulled over by the police, do so as safely and quickly as possible. When the officer approaches, stay in your vehicle, wind down the window and follow their instructions.
If you have an accident, you must call the police on 911, being sure to ask for an accident report which you’ll then need to present to Alamo as soon as possible.
Always stop at a stop sign – even if all looks clear.
Carrying alcohol: In the state of Florida, it’s illegal to have any open alcoholic containers in your car. Any wine or beer that’s been picked up for your holiday should stay in the boot out of sight.
Keep to the speed limit: Because speed limits vary between states, it’s important to ensure that you know the legal maximums in Florida as well as any other states you plan to visit. The Sunshine State enforces different speed limits depending on a range of factors – from the amount of lanes the road has to how populated the area is. Keep a look out for the white and black speed signs, which will indicate each road’s limit.
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With Alamo Rent A Car, you can share the experience with a free additional driver on our Florida rental cars.