If you plan to rent a car while in the United States, there are certain rules and guidelines you must follow. Let’s start with the age of the driver.
Most states allow their residents to drive at the age of 16 years old. But, if you’re planning to rent a car in the United States, the minimum driving age is typically 21 years old. Some car hire agencies require the driver to be 25 years old.
If you’re not 25 years old the rental car companies will either reject your request to rent their car or charge you an under age surcharge. Of the rental car companies who do allow drivers under 21 or 25 years old to drive, the surcharge is usually in the $50-$60 per day range. It can be expensive. If you are under 25 years old, or if you’re over 71 years old, check with the car hire agency before securing a vehicle.
If you want to rent a car and drive it legally in the United States you must provide proof that you are a licensed driver in your country. The rental car company requires this information and so do the police. In many countries it is not necessary to carry your drivers license with you while driving a car, but it is the law in all 50 states. If you’re not a licensed driver in your country, you will not be allowed to rent a car or drive in the United States.
What kind of a driver are you? Do you have the reputation for driving fast and furious or are you a safe driver. Many car hire companies will access your driving record before they’ll rent you a car. If you think your driving record might be a problem, check with the car hire company first to insure you can rent a car from them. Don’t assume or expect that they are required to rent you a car only to discover that they won’t after you arrive in the U.S.
Each rental car company has their own payment requirement. Some will allow you to rent a car with cash or a debit card, but most want a credit card from a U.S. bank. If you plan to pay with cash or a debit card, expect to pay a substantial deposit in the $200 range plus the full cost of the rental before you leave the lot. Personal checks are not generally not accepted.
Once you’ve rented the car, there are rules of the road you must follow. Many of these rules are different in the United States and they could cost you a ticket if you aren’t aware of them. For example, each state has their own seat belt law.
Some states require everyone in the front seat to wear a seat belt, while other states require all passengers to wear a seat belt. If you have children in the car, it’s mandatory in virtually every state that they wear a seat belt or a child harness no matter where they’re sitting.
If you’re not used to wearing a seat belt in your home country, you’ll certainly get in the habit of wearing one after driving in the United States. It’s just smart to wear a seat belt and the police don’t tolerate drivers who break this law, especially if they have children in the car.
These little devices can be a god send for people who like to test the speed limits, or they used to be. Many states do not allow you to use radar detectors any more. They don’t even allow you to have one in the car.
The best advice here is don’t bring your radar detector with you and don’t break the law speeding. There are product too many other things to see in the United States other than the inside of a jail cell.
Streets and highways are typically numbered in the United States based on where they’re located and in the direction they run. Interstate highways that run North and South end in the number Five. You will find highway 5 on the West coast of the United States and highway 95 on the East coast.
Interstate highways that run East and West end with a zero. Interstate highway 10 runs across the Southern part of the United States and Interstate highway 90 running along the Canadian boarder. A good rule of thumb when you’re not on an Interstate highway is to pay attention to the number. Even numbered roads run East and West and odd numbered roads run North and South.
Driving in the United States is very similar to driving in many other countries. The very best thing to do is check with your car hire company before renting a car to insure you meet all of their requirements and have a fun, safe and legal trip.
Bob Sommers is a fan of Regal Car Rental, a Fort Myers Florida Car Hire [http://www.regalcarrental.com/car-hire-fort-myers-florida] company. Regal provides pre-owned vehicles for half the price you would pay anywhere else.