What is UK legal miles or kilometers

US traffic rules

Each of the 50 states has its own traffic rules and regulations. However, the most important provisions are uniform. If you drive carefully and prudently as a European, you generally don't have much difficulty getting used to it.

Table of Contents
Distances | Speed ​​Limits | Pedestrian | School buses | Lanes | Right turn lane | Turn right at red light | Carpool tracks | Intersections with a stop sign on every street | Overtaking | Traffic controls | Construction sites | Parking / stopping | Drink driving | Continuous single or double lines in the middle of the street | Seat belts compulsory | Breaking down with an empty tank | Children on board | Switch on the light when it rains | Road tunnel | Search rental cars on comparison platforms

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Most Americans drive very considerately and defensively; This is especially true on country and long-distance routes, while in big city traffic there is an increasing hectic and jostling driving style as in this country. The latter is also to be expected in areas with predominantly Central American immigrants. We have compiled the special regulations of the individual states on the corresponding Internet pages on this homepage.


Distance information on road signs, for example, in miles (1 mile = around 1.6 kilometers), speed limits also in miles. The maximum speed on interstate highways outside of metropolitan areas is around 65 mph (miles per hour), which corresponds to around 104 km / h. In some rental cars, the speedometer shows miles and kilometers at the same time.

Speed ​​limits

Speed ​​limits (speed limits) are in town (city ​​limits) knitted so that generally 25 to 35 mph (Miles per hour = 40 - 48 km / h), in the vicinity of schools often reduced to 15 mph (24 km / h; usually a traffic light flashes to indicate the reduced speed). On the Trunk roads 55 to 75 mph (88 to 120 km / h) are the norm. The permissibility varies from state to state, with the 75 mph being less common. It is therefore well advised to pay attention to the signs in order to avoid - drastic - penalties for exceeding the speed limit (speeding) to avoid; if you get caught, the police won't be joking with you. In many states you can pay locally and in cash.

Radar controls The police must not be hidden, the police vehicle must be visible to the road user. By the way: even driving slowly, which obstructs traffic, can lead to a penalty. A yellow rectangle on the top with a direction arrow and a number of miles underneath indicates the maximum speed for driving through a curve.


Pedestrians always have priority in the United States. Every American motorist always gives the weaker road user the right of way (even within towns, the horn is not honored if you cross the traffic light as a pedestrian when it is “red”). This beautiful custom should definitely be adopted.

School buses

School buses are an American specialty. They are used for students' daily trips to and from school. The vehicles cannot be overlooked: bright yellow, beefy in appearance and labeled "school bus”. If the school bus stops, the driver switches on all the flashing lights. It must always be expected that the school bus will stop to allow students to get on and off (Flashing lights on the bus go on). In this case, all other road users must stop their vehicles, including those coming diRec from the opposite direction. The stop bid must be strictly adhered to! Only when the flashing lights are switched off can you continue driving on both lanes.


On highways with three-lane lanes, normal through traffic should use the middle lane. The right lane is for slow vehicles and vehicles leaving the highway. The left lane is primarily used for overtaking traffic.

Right turn lane

A special feature of the American road layouts is that the right lane can more or less suddenly become a right-turn lane. This is indicated by the traffic notice "this lane must turn right”Is displayed. If you are on this lane, you have to turn right. The same can of course also apply to the left lane in the opposite sense. This peculiarity applies to both inner-city and long-distance traffic. If you want to drive “route” or do not know exactly how to drive, you should always use the middle of the lanes. This makes it easier to change the desired direction of travel if necessary. By the way: sometimes the right lane ends suddenly, which is caused by the traffic notice "Right lane ends - through traffic merge left“Is displayed beforehand.

Turn right at a red light

Turning right at a red light is allowed in most US states - after a complete stop at the traffic lights - but not in Wyoming and South Dakota, for example. There is no traffic sign to indicate this possibility of driving. Traffic signs can only be found if this right turn is expressly prohibited: "No right turn / Right turn only at green arrow”.

Carpool tracks

In conurbations in particular, vehicles with several occupants are often authorized to use special lanes alone. This also applies to buses. This priority is used to improve the utilization of individual traffic. With what occupation a car to Carpool will show signs that alternate with the instructions for the special lane (there can be two, three or four people). Sometimes there are also motorcycles (Cycles) is entitled to use carpool lanes.

Crossings with a stop sign on every street

The following rule applies: the vehicle that stops first at the intersection is also allowed to drive first, then the second, and so on. If you have any doubts, you communicate with a show of hands. The rule only applies if you arrive at the same time: right before left.


Overtaking is allowed on the left and right in most states (except Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Tennessee). Given the relatively slow speeds, this is not a security problem either. Unusual for Europeans: if you want to overtake, you usually approach, or at least that's what you think, in slow motion; the overtaking process takes a correspondingly long time. The lane change is indicated by flashing signs. No passing the traffic sign shows "Don't pass" at.

Traffic controls

Police vehicles with flashing lights and / or activated sirens always stay behind the vehicle to be checked. It is then important to stop and remain absolutely calm, above all: to avoid any hasty or precarious movement. So: press the right turn signal, stop on the right side of the lane and not in the middle of the street, turn off the engine and put your hands on the steering wheel, comply with all the wishes of the police officer, no hasty movements (pass papers, get out if requested, etc.). The police car will stop behind you and the exiting policeman will usually ask for a driver's license (driver`s license) and registration papers for the vehicle (registration papers of the car) ask.

If you have papers in your jacket pocket, be careful when removing them so that the police officer does not misinterpret this as having a weapon. Confirmation of insurance is also required in some states (automobile insurance). In the case of a rental car, you should have received the relevant papers from the rental company when you pick up the vehicle or you should find them in the car. Be polite and friendly, if there is something you did not understand, pretend to be a foreigner (visitor from another country) and ask to repeat the instruction (please repeat the instruction). The harsh attitude of the American police, due to the freedom of arms, also corresponds in real life to that which is well known from films.

construction sites

Construction sites are a nuisance for drivers in the USA as they are in this country, they are often kilometers long. If the construction site can only be driven through in one lane, there is often no traffic light regulation, but one or more construction workers with flags (flags). This has the practical advantage that you reduce your speed early on. For longer construction sites, construction vehicles are also used, which drive ahead of the convoy of cars, turn at the end of the construction site and then lead the opposing convoy. Safety is a top priority in the USA (not least because of the multi-million dollar compensation payments for errors).

Parking / stopping

Parking is possible at bus stops, near hydrants (3m distance) and in so-called. tow away zones not allowed and of course not in the designated no-parking zones (no parking, no stopping and standing). Lowered curbs mark an exit, parking is not permitted here within 3 meters either. Parking is also not permitted on pedestrian paths, pedestrian crossings and in the second row. Incidentally, you have to pay attention to the curbs within localities, the colors or inscriptions of which indicate commandments:

  • red: no stopping at all
  • White: 5 minutes during business hours
  • green: Short-term parking, signs or a number on the curb indicate the maximum time in minutes (usually 10 - 25 minutes)
  • blue: Parking for the disabled
  • yellow black: Truck loading zone or stops for emergency vehicles
  • yellow: Charging and discharging up to a maximum of 20 minutes; Drivers of private vehicles must stay with the car
  • compact: Parking only for short vehicles that do not protrude beyond the end mark
  • cycles: Parking for motorbikes only

Anyone who disregards these regulations can quickly find out that their vehicle has been towed. The claw is also for parking offenders (Denver boat) not unknown in the USA.Where maximum parking times are given, but there are no parking meters, the police officers often work with chalk markings on the tires. These lines must not be removed. Parking meters are generally fed quarters and function like at home. The maximum parking time is indicated and is regularly between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

Do not park on the side of the road

At Trunk roads It is not allowed to park on the side of the road unless this is expressly permitted by means of corresponding parking lane markings. You should therefore leave the paved lane on highways and, if necessary, park on the gravel hard shoulder. You are only allowed to stop on a freeway in an emergency. If you have received a parking ticket (ticket) because you have exceeded the parking time, you should pay for it yourself if possible. Otherwise you run the risk that the bill will be paid by the car rental company, who will charge you for this via the credit card plus a not inconsiderable processing fee; this even months later.

You will usually find an directory assistance number on the park ticket. There you can usually pay for the ticket using your credit card. If payment by "check" or "money order" is required, you will hardly be able to afford this as a tourist; then call the information number and try to obtain payment by credit card.

Drink driving

Drunk driving (driving under the influence = DUI) is a serious offense and can quickly lead to imprisonment. It applies 0.8 per mille limit in most states (there are, however, several states with a 1.0 per mil limit), for certain situations and for drivers under the age of 21, limits of 0.4 to 0.1 per mille apply (blood alcohol concentration = BAC).

The regulations vary from state to state, but have generally not been relaxed but tightened. In the past few decades, thousands of drunk driving laws have been passed across the United States. This is a result of the activities of many anti-alcohol groups, particularly the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. In about two-thirds of the states, police officers can immediately withhold their driver's license at a traffic stop if the "blow test" justifies the suspicion of alcohol or the driver refuses an alcohol test. The alcohol limits are also tending downwards. About a dozen states require drivers under the age of 21 to be zero alcoholic (Zero-Tolerance Laws).

Remember: Drunk-driving can be more common in the USA than in our country, even if the alcohol level is below the alcohol level. Your behavior at police checks will be recorded in detail in the event of suspicion and assessed with regard to the degree of drunkenness.

    With regard to the “degree of fault”, a distinction is made in the USA between
  • DUI: “Simple” drunkenness (below the legal alcohol limit = legal limit
  • DUI with BAC of 0.8 ‰ or more: Drunkenness with violation of the legal alcohol limit
  • Extreme DUI: "Absolute" drunkenness (usually 1.5 per thousand or more)

Conduct towards the police officers

If you come to a traffic stop, your behavior towards the police officers is particularly important. Susan Kayler, Attorney at Law, provides extensive Arizona practice tips on phoenix.about.com.

    We summarize these rules of conduct as follows:
  • 1. First of all, remain seated in the car until you are asked to get out.
  • 2. Show your identification documents: driver's license (driver`s license) and vehicle papers (registration).
  • 3. Kindly but firmly reject all behavioral tests (field tests), which the police officer may ask for. It doesn't matter whether you are walking in a straight line, touching your nose with your fingers, standing on one leg and reciting the ABC or doing something else: you are not legally obliged to do so. If you are threatened with prison if you refuse, you will still remain unaffected, because you can be brought to prison independently of these tests.
  • 4. Kindly but firmly decline a search of your wagon and give no reason for this. Just say "no". If the policeman has really confirmed suspicions, he will examine the car even without your consent.
  • 5. Don't answer questions, especially when asked what and how much you drank. The recommended standard answer is: "I can only answer your question on the advice of my attorney“.
  • 6. Do not refuse a breath, blood or urine alcohol test, but have it carried out on site or at another official location. If you refuse such a test, you can be penalized with the withdrawal of your driver's license for up to one year, even if there is actually no drunkenness offense. If the test shows a blood alcohol content of more than 0.8 per mille, the driver's license will be withdrawn for 30 to 90 days.
  • 7.If the official sample shows a blood alcohol content, you do not agree that the test documents may be destroyed, but request that they be kept in the event of a lawsuit: NEVER WAIVE!
  • 8. Have your own blood alcohol test carried out immediately, in a hospital, laboratory or by a doctor. If these values ​​are lower, this can be helpful in a process.
  • 9. Get a lawyer experienced in drunk driving offenses (experience with DUI cases).
  • In the event of arrests, you have the right to demand that the diplomatic mission responsible for you be informed of this. You will then receive consular care. See also under the heading "Consular support".

Penalties are clearly formulated

The penalties for alcohol offenses are usually clearly defined by law, so the scope for discretion is very limited. Repeated violations are common in many
States make a prison sentence mandatory. the fines are delicate. For the state of Arizona, lawyer Susan Kayler lists the following threats of punishment:

  • DUI or DUI with BAC of 0.08 ‰ or more
    • Lower limit: 10 days in prison, of which up to 9 days were replaced by alcohol education; Fine of $ 250 plus 80% surcharge and fees (usually around $ 600 total)
    • Upper limit: 6 months in prison; Fine of $ 2,500 plus 80% surcharge and fees; 3 years probation
  • Extreme DUI
    • Lower limit: 30 days in prison, up to 20 days of which replaced by alcohol education; Fine of $ 250 plus 80% surcharge and other fees (usually around $ 750); Equipping your own car with an automatic ignition lock (Ignition interlock device)
    • Upper limit: 6 months in prison; Fine of $ 2,500 plus 80% surcharge and fees; 3 years probation

Drunk drivers have a higher degree of guilt

In the case law, the drunk driver always has a higher degree of fault or contributory negligence towards traffic victims. In the event of personal injury, financial obligations in the millions can arise. After all that, it remains to be said: there is no zero alcohol limit for driving in the USA. It is generally assumed that a drink increases the blood alcohol content by 0.25 per mille. However, the actual effects will vary based on other factors, such as weight, gender, etc. Blood alcohol measurement devices are priced around $ 50 in stores and on shipping in the United States (breath taking devices).

But these devices are not reliable either. To be on the safe side, you should therefore no longer drive if your blood alcohol content is suspected to be 0.5 or more. And do not drive if you fear that your driving characteristics will be impaired in any way, because drunk driving does not require a specific alcohol level. Even transporting alcohol inside the car can lead to problems with the police, as it is suspected that people were drinking from it. To be on the safe side, you should transport all alcoholic beverages, especially purchases from the supermarket, in the trunk.

Even driving under drugs - driving while intoxicated - is punishable by fines and imprisonment. An interesting article on the United States' Photo Radar Cameras can be found at phoenix.about.com.

Continuous single or double lines in the middle of the street

Mark continuous single or double lines in the middle of the street that they must not be driven over and that turning over the middle is prohibited here. Broken lines indicate that you are allowed to overtake. A broken and a closed line have the same meaning as in Germany. In exceptional cases, continuous lines may be crossed if you turn left at a junction. Yellow lines separate from oncoming traffic, white dividing lines mark multi-lane carriageways in one direction. A yellow quadruple line must not be crossed under any circumstances.

Seat belt compulsory

Seat belts are generally mandatory. Anyone who forgets to put on the seat belt is usually reminded by the corresponding ringing noises in the vehicle. Fast your seatbelt applies not only to airplanes, but also to the countryside (it's the law).

Getting down with an empty tank

Breaking down with an empty tank is not only a nuisance, but also a traffic offense in some states (e.g. California).

Children on board

Infants and children may need to be at a certain age in one child seat to be placed. The car rental company will inform you about this. Child seats are always subject to a separate charge when renting a car and should be registered in good time. As a general rule, children under the age of 12 should sit in the back seat and wear the seat belt. The regulations vary from state to state; Please refer to our state descriptions for details.

Switch on the light when it rains

Many states, e.g. South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, require that the driving lights be switched on when it rains. This moment has come at the latest when the windshield wipers are switched on. Signs draw attention to this regulation, which is more common: "light on when it's raining"Or"light & wipers”.

Road tunnel

    Recommended behavior when driving through a tunnel:
  • Turn on the light in front of the tunnel
  • Take off your sunglasses
  • Close windows and sunroof, set ventilation to recirculation mode
  • do not overtake
  • Increase the safety distance
    Recommended behavior in the event of an emergency in the tunnel
  • In the event of a traffic jam, switch on the hazard warning lights, stop them, switch off the engine, do not leave the vehicle (only when prompted)
  • in the event of a breakdown drive up to the right, ideally in a breakdown bay, switch on the hazard warning lights; if there is no reaction from the tunnel control room, run to the emergency niche and call for help by phone (cell phones are usually not exactly locatable)

Search rental cars on comparison platforms

In our test of various comparison platforms, the provider billiger-mietwagen.de won. The site compares almost 150 providers from over 170 countries and also has a comprehensive range for the USA. The rental car can be found quickly by entering the place and date.