If you're going to Florida then you really should hire a car!
There is so much more to see and places to visit in central Florida than Disney. With the Universal Parks, many Shopping Malls and other amazing attractions scattered
throughout the area makes getting around much harder without your own transportation.
Driving in Florida isn't as bad as you may fear, the locals have a laid back attitude and are used to us visitors making mistakes. Use common sense, plan your routes
in advance and nominate a co-pilot to help with directions and for pointing out possible hazards.
The main difference of driving in the U.S. is that they drive on the right hand side of the road meaning you're on the left hand side of the car. This can take a little
bit of getting used to but as hire cars have automatic gearboxes you at least don't have to worry about changing gears with the wrong hand.
Following are some points to remember:
Driving is on the right hand side of the road. Be careful at intersections as it's easy to find yourself on the wrong side of the road when you turn left (done this
myself a few times).
It's not illegal in the U.S. to overtake on either side so check your mirrors regularly.
The driver and front seat passenger must wear seat belts and every passenger in the vehicle under the age of 18 MUST be restrained by a safety regardless of seating
position. Florida law requires all children five years of age or younger be restrained in a proper child restraint system.
Drinking and driving is not allowed under any circumstances and Florida has one of the toughest DUI laws in the U.S. with allowable blood alcohol level limits being
Carry your driving licence and passport with you when driving.
Providing it's clear to do so (look left) and that your car comes to a complete stop at the intersection first, then it's perfectly legal to turn right at a red traffic
light. Some intersections will forbid the right turn but this will be clearly signposted and may have their own set of lights. In the absence of a sign you are safe to
assume that turning right on red is allowed. If you are in any doubt then wait for the lights to turn green.
On a two way street or highway, all drivers travelling in either direction must stop for a school bus that is picking up or dropping off children. You must remain stationary
until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus' stop arm is withdrawn. Be vigilant of the children and be lead by how the other vehicles around you react.
Speed limits are usually lower than in the UK and should be obeyed as fines are heavy and always enforced.
Florida's "Move Over Act," passed in 2002, requires drivers to move over to the next lane or slow down (at least 20 miles below the posted speed limit) while approaching
emergency vehicles that are stopped on interstate or other highways.
Always park in designated areas or you run the risk of your car being towed. Never park in front of a fire hydrant.
If you do get stopped by the police then remain in the car and wait for the officer to come to you. Under no circumstances should you get out of the car and try and
approach the officer.
The roads you are crossing have the names displayed above the intersection; these are not the names of the roads you're travelling along.
Many tolls are unmanned so please make sure you keep a plentiful supply of loose change. If the toll booth is broken or you have insufficient change then please make
sure you take an envelope located next to the coin collector and follow the instructions. If you do run out of change you can purchase a roll of quarters from an
attendant at a manned toll plaza.
The US Gallon which is roughly 3.8 litres.
All rental cars run on unleaded fuel, unless otherwise stated. At many gas stations you have the option to use your debit/credit card at the pump before filling up or
go to the cashier and pay them for the amount you want and advise what pump number you're using. If you don't use it all then return to the cashier for your change.
Always read the instructions on the pump as sometimes you have to lift the nozzle holder before fuel is dispensed.
Unless specified, all rental cars are automatics, most will have the gear selector in the middle near the hand break but some will have the gear selector on the steering
column, bit like a big indicator arm.
When starting the engine and moving the gears into the 'Drive' (D) position you must have your foot on the brake pedal.
You won't be able to remove the ignition keys from the ignition without the gears being in the 'Park' (P) position.
Some hand brakes can be found as a pedal above where drivers left foot will be. The release in this case will be a pull latch located around the area of the drivers
left knee. This kind of hand brake is normally found on the larger 12 seat mini vans.
Please note that it is unusual to find the hand brake engaged when you pick up your vehicle from the rental garage so make sure you apply the foot brake before doing
anything else in the vehicle.
Automatics will creep along when in Drive if you don't have any brakes engaged. This is useful when in slow moving traffic and aids with hill starts.
Please make sure you familiarise yourself with the location of your wiper, head light and air conditioning controls before leaving the rental garage.