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How can I Adjust to Driving Rules on Road Trips?

Published: Jun 7, 2021 in Auto Accident
road trip

Taking a road trip across state lines or across the country can be exciting. At the same time, it can also be confusing because different states can have slightly different driving rules. This can be a shock, especially for newer drivers or ones who have never driven too far from their hometown. It can also lead to problems, like car accidents and injuries.

With this in mind, drivers should educate themselves as much as possible about different driving regulations in the states they intend to explore. Some helpful interstate and out-of-country driving tips are noted below.

Navigating Roundabouts

Anyone who has driven overseas knows that roundabouts are common. Roundabouts take the place of stop signs and stop lights. They enable traffic to flow freely in an effort to relieve congestion. In the United States, many municipalities have begun utilizing roundabouts. However, roundabouts can be tough for American drivers.

Navigating a roundabout takes a little bit of experimentation and practice. Drivers should expect to move into the roundabout and yield to other traffic, if necessary. All traffic in a roundabout moves in a counterclockwise direction with exits on the right side. Practice is important when it comes to getting comfortable with roundabouts. Watching videos online may help drivers who know they are likely to come upon roundabouts in their travels.

Left and Right Exits

For the most part, exits off of highways outside of major cities tend to be on the right side of the road. Closer to major metropolitan areas, left-side exits regularly start to appear. This can be confusing for drivers, especially if the highway has many lanes that they will need to cross to get to their left-side exit.

A good rule of thumb is to look online at maps to anticipate whether a needed exit will be on the left or right. Drivers may also want to ride in middle lanes rather than in the far right or left lane. That way, they will have fewer lanes to cross in order to get to an exit. If they miss an exit, drivers should stay calm and try another exit. Panicking can lead to mistakes.

Gas Station Fuel-Ups

In many states, including Illinois, drivers can pump their own gas at stations. In some other states, drivers must wait for an attendant to fill their tanks for them. Drivers should look up gas station fuel-up laws for states they plan to drive through.

It should be noted that this is not just a passing requirement. It is a full-fledged law. This means doing anything other than waiting for an attendant would be illegal.

Speed Limits

Drivers tend to get fairly comfortable with the speed limits in their own states and communities. Most stop paying attention to speed limit signs after a while because they have a sense of how fast to go on the roads they commonly travel.

When taking trips, drivers should focus their attention on speed limit signs. Speed limits can change abruptly, which may catch drivers off-guard. Additionally, speed limits may not be as intuitive in some areas as they are in others. Drivers are expected to go the speed limit, regardless of where they come from. Police officers will not revoke speeding tickets just because a driver is from out of state and ignorant of local laws and speed-related expectations.

Types of Roads

It is important for drivers to understand the layout of areas where they plan to travel to. Terrain can switch from flat to curvy quickly, and some roads are notorious for their switchbacks or steep hills. Others are known for being very dangerous because they have non-existent berms or drop-offs with or without guardrails.

Although it may not be feasible to find out the exact type of road that is coming up, drivers should do their best to get an education. They should also avoid any off-road paths unless they are driving in a type of vehicle with tires that can handle off-roading safely.

Car Rentals

Drivers do not always bring their own vehicles to drive out of state. Sometimes, they fly to their destination and then rent a car, or they rent a car because their own cannot make the trip. Regardless, they should be aware that in certain cases, drivers under 25 years old are not able to rent vehicles at the same rate as other motorists are in the United States. Instead, they may be asked to pay a significant surcharge in order to rent if they are between the ages of 20 to 24 years old. Younger drivers should find out their car rental possibilities. That way, they can be prepared and have enough cash in the bank to cover the cost of a rental.

School Buses

Drivers who encounter stopped or stopping school buses should stop as well. This is a strict law throughout the United States, although the exact interpretation of which vehicles need to stop can vary slightly.

To stay safe, avoid car accidents, and lower their risk of getting fined or losing their license, drivers should just stop whenever a school bus is dropping off or picking up children.

Driving on the Correct Side of the Road

In the United States, motorists always opt for driving on the right side of the road except on multi-lane, one-way streets. In some countries, motorists drive on the left side of the road.

It can be very challenging for an American motorist to adapt quickly to driving on the opposite side of the road. It can be just as challenging for a non-American driver to adapt, too. Consequently, motorists who are expected to drive on the other side of the road may want to find a safe place to practice at home, such as an empty parking lot, before getting on an actual highway.

What Should I Do After an Accident?

Traveling by car can lead to accidents, even if a driver pays attention and tries to eliminate all chances of getting into a collision. In the case of a crash, drivers should always call 9-1-1 in the United States. Calling 9-1-1 alerts first responders to the incident, enabling police officers, emergency medical teams, and sometimes firefighting crews to get to the scene rapidly. In most states, any car accident should be reported.

If the accident involves injuries, drivers and passengers should get the care they need, either onsite or soon afterwards. They may also want to consult with a car accident lawyer in the state where the crash occurred. That way, if their or the at-fault driver’s insurance company does not adequately cover economic and non-economic damages, the driver can seek advice and legal counsel.

St. Clair County Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Assist Injured Drivers and Passengers

If you were recently injured in a collision while traveling, a St. Clair County car accident lawyer at The Cates Law Firm, LLC can give you advice on the next best steps. Some rules may vary by state, and we can answer all of your concerns. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients throughout St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout southern Illinois. Call us at 618-277-3644 or contact us online for a free consultation.