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DRIVING IN FLORIDA
Driving in America, especially Florida, is an experience in itself. You will see some, "interesting", driving techniques and manoeuvres. This is due to the amount of 'non-locals' but even the locals like to keep you on your toes.
No 1 tip is "Be careful and take your time. You are on your holidays, remember".
Things to note and remember
• Always keep your rental car documents IN the vehicle as they act as registration documents in the case of having an accident or being stopped by the Police. The driver must always have valid, picture ID on them at all times whilst driving. It’s Florida Law to have ID on you at all times anyway.
• Remember you drive on the Right hand side. Especially when turning left. It's easy to forget and find yourself on the wrong side of a freeway, which you don't want to do!
• The Drink Drive limit in Florida is "Don't do it unless you want to spend your holidays in a police cell" call a cab. We really advise you that you should not drive if you have consumed alcohol as, even the 1st offence, carries a prison sentence of 6-9 months. Please don’t do it !!
• Vehicles can overtake on either side of you on a 2 or more lane road. Always check rear, and both side mirrors, before manoeuvring as cars will pass you on both sides without warning.
• When you can, always keep to the right which is considered the “slow” lane on highways.
• You can make a right turn on a red light, unless it states on the traffic lights that you cannot. The cars behind you will help you with this one by honking their horn at you.
• 4 way protocol (crossroads). When approaching a 4 way junction which is not controlled by lights you must always stop. The order to move on is the order in which each vehicle stopped at the 4 way. If you were the second there then you go second etc.
• Keep plenty of quarters and $1 bills in your car for toll roads. You will need them and there are big fines for not paying at a toll, and not all of them are manned. If you pass an unmanned toll without paying then you won’t know you have been fined until weeks or months after you get home when your credit card will have been charged by the hire company, including its charges. A $1.25 toll could cost you hundreds
• Road signs hanging above the road are NOT the road you are on but the one you are crossing. You will get used to this the third or fourth time you go back to Florida.
• Don't expect other road users to be polite, generally they are not. It's just their way and no reflection on you or your dull, hire car. They probably don’t know where they are going either!! Just chill out and enjoy the sunshine.
• Always max out on insurance coverage for your car and person. You will always get offered upgraded insurances at the rental counter but make sure you get full protection when you book your vehicle. You will regret it if you have a bump or need a doctor.
• Exit signs on most roads are situated just after the road you need to take. Strange but true! Give yourself as much time as possible when you want to leave the interstate or other fast road. Use your maps that the hire car firm will give you. They are not to scale but are a good start.
• When parking on the street always park facing the direction you are travelling, you will get a ticket if you don't. Check the parking signs posted on posts along the highway for parking restrictions. Generally there are no such things as yellow lines but there may still be restricted parking. Look up, not down, for signs. There is usually plenty of off street free parking which you can use in most areas.
• Keep to the speed limit. It's an "on the spot" fine if you don't and get caught, which you probably will. Speeding fines are usually doubled if you speed when highway workers are present. It's expensive, so be careful. Keep right and stay to the limit even if others don’t.
• Be very, very careful when it's wet. Roads get very slippery as they are usually hot with bitumen running on the surface. They become like an ice rink very quickly. Florida roads are usually hot but get wet very quickly in a downpour and tyres in the States are not brilliant. Be careful.
• Objects in the mirror are always closer than they seem - always check twice before manoeuvring
• School buses. You will know instantly what these are, as they big and yellow with School Bus written on them. Sorry to be flippant but these are very important. Even though you may be on your holiday children may still be at school. When a school bus stops warning lights will start flashing and a stop sign will drop from the roof. You MUST NOT overtake a stopped school bus but must stop behind and wait until it moves off before you can overtake. If this is on a residential road with no barrier between the opposing lanes then you also MUST stop. There is a whole lot of punishments if you don't. Just think safety and you will be fine.
• Never, ever have open alcohol containers in the car regardless of who is drinking from them !!
• Driving is the best way to get around Florida so make it an enjoyable one and just "Be sensible" and you will be fine.
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