Driving Rules and Regulations

It is very useful when you have your own car; you are able to travel at a leisurely pace and not having to rely on cabs or public transport. Having a car can be very expensive with all the added costs, but expats will find that driving is more convenient, safe and reliable.

Expats moving to the US must ensure that before driving a car in the country all the rules have been followed. Expats who have a driver’s license from their home country are allowed to drive in the USA as long as the license is valid and they do not become a resident of the state they are driving in. It is not compulsory but is recommended that an expat obtains an IDP (International drivers permit) from the local Automobile association before they leave from their home country even if it is not being used. If an expat has an IDP it makes it easier for them to rent a car and in some cases can be used as an ID.

When an expat becomes a resident of the state they are living in, it is vital that they visit the local department of motor vehicles so that they can obtain a drivers license. Expats are required to show:

  • Proof of their legal residency
  • Vehicle insurance
  • Pay the application fee
  • Pass a driving test

If a driving license hasn’t been obtained in the home country, expats are required to pass a written and visual test, show proof of legal residency before they can get a learners permit or an instruction which will allow them to drive with a fully licensed driver by their side.

Using a car is not necessary when living in one of the large cities such as New York or San Francisco as these cities have local and regional transport networks. But expats located in a small location will require a car since some places may not be walking distance around these areas.

Driving is on the right hand side in America and expats will find that there are paved roads all over the country with clear signs showing any speed and weight restrictions. Expats may find dirt roads in rural areas of different states of the country. The road system and highways are easy to navigate although there is traffic and congestion.

Driving Speed Limits

The speed limits in the US can vary depending on the location you are driving in and the streets in the city will have speed limits clearly marked.

  • In a neighbourhood, the speed limit is usually 35mph.
  • Speed limits depend on the city, state and road
  • In most of the interstates, the speed limit will be 70 mph
  • In some states the maximum speed limit is 65 mph

Toll Roads

In most of the states expats will find that there are at least one or two toll roads. Some states have toll booths where a driver would need to pay a toll fee before continuing on their journey. Toll roads are used on a daily basis and expats will have the option to purchase a pass for a certain amount of time. This pass will need to be displayed on the windscreen of the car, and then drivers will be able to go into a separate lane when coming towards the toll road so they will not need to stop to pay