Imagine my hesitant-excitement when an unexpected letter arrived on my doormat informing me I was the lucky competition winner of a trip to Florida. Forgetting I’d actually entered the competition months before, it took many an awkward conversation with the travel company to convince me it was for real. As the departure date neared, the tickets arrived and my thoughts turned to driving in Florida. Having never been ‘across the pond’ my mind raced into overdrive of all the places to visit.
After landing into Orlando International Airport, we headed towards the car rental counter and were directed towards our car for the week. It had an automatic gearbox, which although is the norm in America, to me was a little alien. With directions supplied by the rental staff, we set out on the highway for the very first time and I soon became accustomed with the gearbox!
Spot the Difference
There’s the obvious rule of driving on the right hand side, and you’ll notice the roads are much wider than in the UK, with the traffic lights and road signs hanging overhead on the highways as opposed to the side of the road as you find here. It wasn’t as daunting as I imagined but there are a some points to remember if you are new to driving in Florida.
1. School busses
If a school bus stops, then you must also stop (even if you are the other side of the road). You can’t mistake a school bus, it’s big, bright and yellow. When it stops there’ll be flashing lights to warn you to also stop.
2. Turning at red lights (Remember this whilst on foot too!)
You may be hesitant to the rule if you haven’t driven in the States before, but it’s true, in Florida you are able to turn right at a red light if the junction is clear. Just remember to come to a stop to check it’s safe to do so before proceeding. In cases where this rule doesn’t apply, it will be fully signposted.
3. When caught in the rain
If you get caught in rain that’s enough for you to switch on your wipers, then you must also turn on your low beam lights. On this note, make sure you get familiar with the car before leaving the rental location.
Lucky enough to have tickets for some of the most famous attractions in the USA, my itinerary had pretty much taken care of itself. This made the planning easy and the driving experience even easier, so I would definitely recommend doing your route-prep beforehand as well as brushing up on the driving laws. For helpful information on driving in Florida, try the State of Florida Department of Transportation.