4 Steps to Become a Safe & Legal U.S. Driver
There’s a lot of media published on how Americans can enjoy living or traveling to another country, but there’s not much advice for those who move to the U.S. from somewhere else. Life in America can be confusing for anyone who wasn’t born here, especially the way people drive.
There’s a lot you need to know before deciding to drive in America. U.S. car insurance for foreigners is available, and you need to look into it before making a trip over to the U.S. You should also talk to any travel experts in your home country about what states they have visited and whether they have any tips for you.
We’ll talk about those things and more. These are four of the best steps and ideas you can use to ensure safety and fun when you drive in the U.S. as a foreign driver.
Decide What Vehicle You Are Going to Drive
Deciding what type of visit you are taking to the U.S. will help inform your decision on what type of vehicle you will choose to rent to drive. This is more important than many people realize at first glance.
For example, if you are taking a trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and are used to the sunshine of Australia, you need to rent an SUV that has good traction in the snow and solid terrain features.
Climate difference can be difficult to adjust to if you don’t plan for it. Driving can be dangerous if you haven’t educated yourself on the weather patterns where you are visiting.
Americans are known for owning a lot more of these utility vehicles and trucks than the rest of the world. You will need to learn how to drive this new type of vehicle to avoid trouble once arriving in America.
Many non-Americans are used to utility vehicles and pickup trucks being insured as commercial vehicles. In Europe, these vehicles are typically only used in work settings. Very few European drivers use anything other than sedans and environmentally friendly cars.
Photo from Pexels
Learn the Rules of the Road
There are many key differences between driving in the U.S. and other countries around the world. If you don’t learn about them, there is a chance you could get in an accident and ruin your car and your trip.
For instance, the free right turn on a red light when there is no traffic is sure to confuse a non-American. You are unable to turn on red lights under any circumstances in Europe. If someone honks at you because you forget about this rule when stopped at a light, calmly make your right turn.
Realize there aren’t as many roundabouts in America, with the country often opting for four-way stops. These are supposed to be places where you take turns and stay patient.
Roundabouts and traffic circles are shown to be safe, but American roads just don’t use them very often. Try not to get frustrated with their lack of appearances in America.
The last thing to remember is how much slower Americans drive than the rest of the world. Speed limits are regularly above 80 miles per hour in Germany and other European nations.
You aren’t going to see that in America except on the occasional freeway. Try to remember to keep your speed down so you don’t get a ticket.
Get the Best Insurance for Your Trip
We all want to avoid last-minute planning for trips. Learning about the insurance policies for foreign drivers in America will help you avoid this hassle and be ready with the best insurance for your car once you arrive.
If you are just visiting the country and don’t intend to stay, get a non-owner policy. These are cheaper than rental policies, but they still do the same things to protect yourself in case of an accident. Basic liability coverage is included in most of these policies.
Make sure you also have your foreign driver’s license approved before buying a cheap car in America or renting one. Many insurance companies will accept that you are a registered driver if you have a foreign license.
Not all companies will add foreign drivers to their insurance policies. A couple of the best options from the big players in the industry are Farmers and Progressive.
A smaller company that is good with foreign drivers is Bristol West. Make sure you decide who has the best customer service and is willing to talk to you about the challenges of international driving.
Be Willing to Learn
Even after you have followed these steps, it can still be a difficult experience to drive in a new country. Every time you think you have learned everything there is to know, another random thing pops up. You can get frustrated, and it will translate to poor decisions while in the car.
Ask friends in your home country for advice. If they have ever traveled to America and driven on foreign streets, they may be able to give some tips that don’t show up on tour guides or internet blog posts.
Driving is not something many travelers think about when going on vacation. They decide what destination they are going to. Then they budget the expenses of the hotel accommodations. And the items they want to check off their list to visit. They never think as often about how they are going to get around the area once they have arrived.
Many foreign countries rely on biking, walking, and public transportation for their daily activities. If you would still prefer to keep it that way. You need to look into the availability of these options in whatever city you are visiting. New York is known for its alternative transit options, and this is one of the most popular destinations for non-Americans.
Don’t panic and let driving differences affect your time in America. If you take precautions and plan ahead using these steps, you should enjoy your time driving through America whether you are traveling solo or with family.
Shawn Laib writes and researches for the car insurance site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. He wants to help Americans and foreign drivers understand their car insurance options when out of their native country.