Driving In Florida
[ Disney Vacation Planner
Don't forget that in the USA you'll be driving on the right side
of the road. Pay particular attention to this when you start out
first thing in the morning, or late at night. Also be especially
careful after shopping when you first pull onto the highway. It
is very easy to take this for granted, and make a silly
mistake when you're pre-occupied with something else.
It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the vehicle
while you are driving, so if you buy any alcohol whilst you are
out make sure you put it into the boot of the vehicle, or store
it out of the way.
You must carry identification and your driving license
with you at all times if your are driving a vehicle in Florida.
If you are stopped for any reason by the Police, Sheriff, or the
Highway patrol, you should remain in the car until the police
officer tells you otherwise.
When driving around in Florida you will see plenty of Police
patrol cars. You may well avoid seeing a road-block, however unannounced
road blocks are frequently setup in order to strictly enforce
the highway code. If you travel for any distance on a freeway
or similar high speed road, you are quite likely to pass through
a speed-trap, whether you notice it or not.
Avoid getting a ticket, and subsequent fine by:
- Carrying your driving license at all times if you are the
driver of the vehicle, (or an authorised driver who may need
to take over control at any stage).
- Wearing seat belts in the front seat of the car at all times.
- Never parking in such a way that the wheels of the vehicle
straddle the curb.
- Never parking facing against the normal flow of traffic.
- Only parking away from tow-away zones.
- Keeping strictly to the speed limits, which vary from as low
as 15 MPH up to 65 MPH depending on the road.
- NEVER driving while under the influence of alcohol.
- Never have an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.
If you are driving, or plan to drive, don't touch the stuff.
It just isn't worth it. Driving after drinking alcohol is a bloody
stupid thing to do at any time, however, any person found guilty
of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) will automatically
loose their driving license, will be immediately imprisoned, and
will receive a court-hearing and a very large penalty.
Also note that in Florida it is illegal to have an open container
of alcohol in the vechicle.
It may seem a little strange, me including information about
buying fuel, afterall, most people take this for granted, but
it's not always as simple as in the UK, where generally we drive
into a garage, fill the car with the appropriate fuel, and then
For a start, it's not uncommon to have to pay for the required
amount of fuel before filling the car's tank, though this tends
to occur only in smaller garages nowadays.
Also if you just grab the filler nozzle and try to fill the tank
by just squeezing the filler-trigger as you would at a UK garage,
you're going to be waiting a long time for the tank to fill, because
generally you need to activate the pump motor by some form of
mechanical switch. usually the switch is located under the area
where the nozzle docks into the pump, but it could also be at
the side of the pump, or in the case of pre-pay gas stations it
will be under the control of the attendant.
Generally you won't find many street-names on boards at the roadside
as in the UK. Most streetnames hang above junctions. Also when
you come across a board above a junction with a street name on,
the name shown will be the name of the road that crosses
the road you are on. This can be confusing until you get used
There seems to be no equivalent of the UK's roundabouts in Florida,
(or if there is I've never seen one), so there's little to worry
about on that score.
Most directions on major roads will be given in terms of the
major compass directions, so you will be heading North, South,
East, or West along the road. This seems simple enough to follow,
until you end up on a road which heads north for 50 miles, east
for 5 miles, then north again. While you're in the 5-mile east/west
stretch you will still be heading either "North" or "South",
because your direction of travel along the road is usually quoted
in terms of the overall length of the road, not the area of the
road you are on.
Thus when on a road that extends north/south further than it
does east/west you will always be heading either North or South.
Similarly if the road is longer east/west than it is north/south,
you will always be heading either East or West. Confused ? You
Watch yourself here! Speed limits in Florida are generally lower
than in the UK. Also where the speed is being monitored, as it
often is, it is strictly enforced. The fact that you're a tourist
won't cut much mustard with the Florida Highway Patrol if you're
caught speeding. You may have heard about the speed limit having
been relaxed in many states, and about some states even having
an unofficial 'no-limit' policy. Well forget it, because it doesn't
apply within the Floridian state line, where the speed limits
are just as strict as ever.
One of the strangest things to get used to initially when driving
in Florida, is that when you approach a set of traffic lights
that are red, you are allowed to turn right (with caution) provided
that doing so will not interfere with any other traffic at the
Initially this feels really wierd, but after a while it seems
entirely sensible, and damned annoying that we're not allowed
to do the same when turning left in the UK!
One word of caution though, because traffic is allowed to turn
right on a red light, the rightmost lane at a junction is often
solely for traffic turning right. When you approach a set of lights
make sure that you don't get in a 'right only' lane when you actually
want to go straight on.
Lane Discipline and Overtaking
As with the UK, slower moving vehicles tend to stay towards the
outer edge of the road, however this isn't always the case.
Unlike the UK, there is no restriction governing which lane of
the road must be used when overtaking other vehicles, so when
you are on a multi-lane road, you can overtake another vehicle
using a lane to the right or the left of the vehicle concerned.
This can get a little disconcerting at busy times, when cars are
overtaking you on both sides, so again you need to keep your wits
Many roads, particularly the larger Interstates and Turnpikes
are toll roads, with toll booths varying from just a few miles
to several tens of miles apart. Generally the tolls vary with
distance travelled, and increase the further you go. They are
never particularly high however usually costing under a dollar,
so even a long journey is unlikely to cost a great deal of money
Don't worry if you don't have exact change for a toll, since
all toll plaza's have one or more lanes marked 'Change and receipts'.
In Florida it is Illegal to overtake a school bus when
there are yellow lights flashing at the rear of the bus. This
means that if you are behind a school bus showing flashing yellow
lights to the rear, which stops to pickup or dropoff, you must
stay behind it and must not pull out to overtake it, even though
it is stationary.
On a two-way road, cars travelling in BOTH directions
must stop for a stationary school bus with flashing red lights.
This does not apply on a dual-carriageway road if you are travelling
in the opposite direction to the bus, but if you are travelling
in the same direction then you must stop.