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  1. #1
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Visiting the USA on a road trip

    ENJOYING YOUR VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES Here are some Web resources for exploring the USA.

    1) Do I need a Visa to visit the US?
    - The short answer, is 'perhaps', check with your nation's Embassy to the United States or the United States Department of State to investigate this further, as we're not experts in Immigration.

    2) I'm traveling by Car, should I Rent (Hire) or Buy (Purchase)?
    This is probably one of the BIGGEST questions here, and it's one with no easy answer. There are legal issues when it comes to owning a vehicle for a short period of time. There are also logistical issues concerning renting a car (such as regional restrictions). There is no one-size-fits-all answer, so, take a look at this thread for some helpful tips, hints, and alternatives for the Rent vs. Buy question.

    3) What are the laws in the US regarding drinking?
    The minimum age nation wide for purchasing alcohol is 21. However, some states allow for consumption in presence of a parent/guardian or for religious reasons. Some states, such as Arizona, do not allow consumption even for religious reasons. The general rule of thumb is if you're under 21, don't bother: trying to keep track of a myriad of state and local laws regarding this is more headache than it's worth. Now, some have asked regarding Open Containers in Vehicles, and it has been discussed in this thread, but again the general rule is don't. One last thing while we're on the subject, Drinking-and-Driving (DWI/DUI) laws are getting stricter and stricter. Arizona currently has the strictest where you can be jailed, fined, and required to use an interlock device for your vehicle for being "Impaired to Any Degree". If you plan on having a night out on the town, try to do so close to where you are staying and use either public transport or a cab to get home. The other option is to designate a driver that will not drink at all. Some establishments in the US offer free soft-drinks to designated drivers, so check with your server to see if they have any perks for the designated driver!

    4) What is Public Transportation like in the US?
    Honestly, it varies. Some cities have great transportation services, such like New York City's Subway system, other areas have no service at all. The Transportation System in the US is a hodge-podge of Private and Public ventures. Some transit systems are free, such as Island Transit serving Island County in Washington state, whilst others charge a nominal fee like Valley Metro in the Phoenix Metro Area of Arizona. It is best to do an internet search for transit in cities you plan to use the service in to gain bus schedules and routes, as rural areas may only see two buses a day, and urban routes may have a bus every 15 minutes or shorter. The best way to search is to type "{city, state} transit" into a search engine (such as, replacing {city, state} with the appropriate terms, such as Wenatchee, Washington to locate information on Link Transit. If you're looking for more national service, this is easier to find information on. AMTRAK is the US's National Rail Service and services many cities around the US, and even has a stop for Glacier National Park! AMTRAK is a great way to get between cities, however, their service is limited and does not serve all major metro areas directly (example: Phoenix, Arizona is served by an AMTRAK station in Maricopa, Arizona about 30 minutes to the south and does not have a bus link into Phoenix). Inter-city bus service such as Greyhound and the Trailways System are available as well. Some areas have regional inter-city minibus service (the best example I know of is in Arizona there are airport shuttles to-and-from Phoenix Sky Harbor from many of the larger Arizona towns). It's one of those things you have to inquire locally about. It is possible to travel throughout the US without the use of a car, but it requires a little work and some savvy use of search engines.

    5) Can I drive in the US?
    Contact your nation's Embassy within the United States or your nation's Auto Club for more specific information and also how to obtain an International Drivers Permit (if needed).

    6) I hear it can be dangerous to travel in the US, are there any tips to avoid being a victim of crime? While many here on RTA will tell you that the risk of being a victim of crime is a bit over-exaggerated, we're also the first to admit we have some not-so-friendly people here. The best things to remember is keep as little cash on you as possible, don't wear a lot of jewelry, keep an eye on your surroundings, take small steps like locking your doors while driving, and try not to make yourself stand out like a tourist. Here are six safety tips that you can use on your next road trip.

    7) What about National Parks? If there is one thing Americans like, they like wide-open spaces. The US has an abundance of Parks, Preserves, Historic Sites, Monuments, Battlefields, Forests, Grasslands, Wilderness, and Marine Sanctuaries. The thing to remember about Monuments in the US is the term doesn't always mean you'll find a historic marker or a stone statue. Many of the Monuments are simply "a whole lot of nothing", as in little human impact, few roads, fewer services, as they're monuments to America's natural legacy, preserving some of our wide-open-spaces from development and impact, leaving them to speak for their own beauty. The best places to get information on parks is the US National Park Service, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Reclamation, and various State and County Park agencies.

    8) Are there different classes of drivers licenses in the US, and if so, what restrictions may I face with my non-USA license.
    This thread touched on this issue a little bit, but I'll go into more detail. Across the US, there are generally four main classifications of licenses (they may go by different names in each state). These are: Graduated Licenses (Arizona Class G), which are for minors between 16-18, and they prohibit driving at certain times and restrict non-relative passengers under 18; Standard Drivers License (Arizona Class D), which is an unrestricted Adult license permitting operation of all four-wheeled passenger vehicles (cars, vans, and light pickup trucks); Motorcycle License (Arizona Class M); and the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) which is for Commercial Tractor-trailers and Buses. Most foreigners should be able to drive vehicles covered by the Standard Drivers License.

    There are many other questions that I'm sure will come up, so feel free to post your new thread asking them. Moderators will add items to this list as they find new frequently asked questions, so check back again often!

    Hope these help you all, and again, thanks for visiting our nation, and have fun while you're here! Enjoy your visit!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-22-2008 at 09:05 AM. Reason: added link to Safe RoadTrips article

  2. #2

    Default Another USA roadism - Right on Red (ROR)

    Across the country, if the light is red, you are at the front of the lane waiting for the light to change, and if the cross traffic closest to you is moving to the right (the normal situation), you may turn right without waiting for the light to change to green. This assumes it safe and "legal" to do so. I.E.

    * In the U.S. ROR always legal unless a sign has prohibited it.

    * Although ROR is always optional, it's very common to take advantage of it.

    * Be sure no nearby traffic is in the lane you'll be turning into.

    * If the cross-road has traffic in multiple lanes with traffic moving to the right, be sure vehicles in the second lane over are not about to switch to the slower lane as you are turning.

    Personally, I eschew relying on other vehicles' turn signal indicators in this situation. Read the traffic.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Don't forget to stop

    Everything said about Right Turn on Red is legal, except he left out one important detail. You are still required to come to a full stop before making your turn!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Not entirely correct

    Quote Originally Posted by The Taco Monster View Post
    * In the U.S. ROR always legal unless a sign has prohibited it.
    Actually, it is still illegal to turn right on red on New York City unless there is a sign that authorizes it and I believe there may be a few other hold-outs as well. The Federal government made such a rule "law-like" in the 1970's by linking federal funds to state highway funds and so most, maybe all of the states went along with this legalized extortion technique.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-05-2008 at 12:58 AM.

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