Tips on Driving in the US

Whether you’re from Asia, Europe, or Africa, every country has their own driving etiquettes and regulations. This is why you should properly learn about the US’s driving laws and get acquainted with how Americans drive, in order to keep yourself and everyone else safe. 

Learn the state laws

Each state has different driving laws so before you get behind the wheel, make sure that you learn the state regulations first. If you fully understand the state laws then the chances of you getting a ticket or in trouble with law enforcement is lower. Plus, it’s for your own safety.

Unless it says no turn on red light, you can turn right

When you’re at an intersection, you can usually turn right unless explicitly said otherwise by a sign. So, if you’re trying to turn right then you can do it during a red light but just be careful of crossing pedestrians if there is a crosswalk. 

Driving on the right side of the road

If you’re from one of the handful of countries that drive on the left side of the road then driving on the opposite side of the road might be daunting at first. However, it is not as difficult as you might think. You have to be extra cautious while driving, ensuring that you’re within the correct lane and not turning into the wrong lane. Practice makes perfect, so try to drive as often as you can in the first few months of arriving in the US in order to adjust to the right side of the road. 

Drive in the far most right lane

If you’re going to drive slow at first, try your best to stay in the very right lane. This will allow you to go at your own reasonable speed without bothering other drivers as they will be able to pass you on the left side.

Pedestrian first

Unlike some countries, the US has a strict pedestrian first law. This means that you should always prioritize people crossing the road. Stop at red lights in front of crosswalks and always allow people to cross the road safely before proceeding.

Slow down in school areas

Whenever you’re in a school area, whether you realize it through the buildings or signs, you should always decrease your speed. You should be extra careful and drive slower in school areas to ensure everyone’s safety.

Stop at stop signs

When you see a stop sign, actually do what it says and stop. Stop signs are there for a reason and they can prevent accidents from happening. So, try your best to follow them even if it seems like no one is around. 

Pumping gas at gas stations

This might be a weird one, depending on where you’re from but if you want to drive in the US then you have to learn how to pump your own gas. This is because practically every state, except for New Jersey and Oregon, do not have employees whose job is to pump gas for customers. Usually, you will have to park your car on the right side (with the gas tank right next to the gas pump), get out of the car, open your gas tank cap, and pull the nozzle handle to put it into the gas tank. You’ll know if the nozzle is in properly when you feel a click. After that, you can pay for the gas with your debit or credit card or if you want to use cash then you’ll have to go to the station’s convenience store, tell them the pump number, and how much gas you want. Once it’s filled up to the desired amount, the gas flow will automatically stop. 

Pro tip: make sure that you know the kind of fuel that your car needs before you attempt to fill it up!

Drive at your own pace and practice

In order to become a good driver, you have to practice and practice until it becomes an instinct. Definitely go at your own pace to ensure your own and other people’s safety, but otherwise just get out there and practice!

Table of Contents

Get the Ellis App

Made for international students, by international students
Download app