5 Tips For Driving a Rental Car in the United States

Unlike Europe and Asia where public transit is ubiquitous, travelling to the United States means at some point you may have to drive. In fact, driving is an integral part of the American experience, with every town and municipality flooded with capacious freeways, parking lot deserts, and long stretches of two lane blacktop.

Given the distance between destinations, in some cases it’s the only viable method of transport, making the very idea of an American vacation seem a bit challenging. However, if anything, driving in the United States is remarkably simpler than driving anywhere else in the world.

Following these 5 tips will help make the transition even easier.

1. Preparation

Before you rent your vehicle, make sure to get the proper liability coverage, provided you are not already covered by your existing car or travel insurance. Most rental car companies will offer a damage waiver that protects you in the event of damage or theft. This insurance will cost approximately $10 to $20 per day, depending on the value of the car.

Purchasing a supplemental insurance policy is especially helpful for exotic vehicles such as motorcycles, sports cars, or mobile homes, which may otherwise not be covered by the insurance policy you have at home.

Once you receive your vehicle, be sure to check its condition, including the tyre pressure and the fluid levels. A rental car is like a hotel room, its list of owners long enough to fit a dozen encyclopaedias. By performing a number of cursory checks, you can quickly identify if the car is adequate enough for the journey ahead.

2. Get a Navigation System

Most rental cars in the United States can be equipped with on-board satellite navigation systems to help you reach a destination. Not having to memorise your route will free your mind to concentrate on the dangers of the road. If a satellite navigation system is too expensive, using Google Street View or another online map service will help acquaint you with a route before you travel.

3. Driving on the Right Side of the Road

Like much of Europe, Americans drive on the right side of the road. For someone from the UK, this may feel as unnatural as standing on your head. As a foreigner you may feel the need to stubbornly cling to the left lane, despite it being dangerous and unlawful and quite possibly an act of war. However, in reality there is nothing natural about driving in either the right or left lane. This particular rule of the road is completely arbitrary, and once you overcome the initial awkwardness it should come naturally. Just be sure to stop, look, and take your time at each intersection. One of the more frequent causes of road accidents is a lack of attentiveness.

4. Eliminate Distractions

One of the ways to maintain attentiveness is to proactively eliminate distractions. Turning off the radio will help you maintain focus, and keeping your eye level raised will allow you to better anticipate dangers further down the road.

5. Rules and Regulations

There are far less rules and oversight in America in general, and the roads are no exception. Generally speaking, the standard rules of the road apply in all 50 states. If you feel uncomfortable or are having a difficult time finding a location, it’s proper etiquette for slower vehicles to stay in the right lanes, with faster vehicles on the left. For this reason, cars typically pass on the left as well.

Article by Joanie Claires from CarHire.org. Joanie writes on a wide range of travel topics including car hire ibiza.

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