Driving in Florida (for the Brits!)

So there are quite a few differences between driving in the UK and driving in the States.  The majority of the cars in Florida will be automatic – so very easy to get used to driving – you have the gas pedal and the brake.  When you park the car you need to be in park before the key will come out of the ignition, because it is an automatic, you don’t generally have to worry about the handbrake.

You can turn right on red (unless it says not to on the traffic lights), so if you are sitting patiently waiting for the lights to change and someone hoots from behind it will be because you can go if it is safe to do so.

It is also common practice to overtake and to undertake, so you can find yourself in the middle lane being overtaken on both sides – bear this in mind it you are switching lanes to turn off the highway – check your mirror.

Most roads in the States are on a grid system – so as long as you know whether you need to head East, West, North or South you can’t really go wrong (honest) and most cars have a little compass on the dashboard somewhere.

Refueling – petrol stations or as they are known in Florida – gas stations are operated differently than at home.  Firstly , you need to go in and pay before you fill up.  Secondly, diesel is the green pump and petrol is the black pump – nearly all rentals are petrol.  Gas is relatively cheap compared to the UK.

Car parks have more space than in the UK really to accommodate the vehicles which also tend to be larger – you will see a few minis but not many, you will also see a lot of trucks – and some monster trucks.  We find that it is better to book a midsize SUV so you don’t feel swamped by all the other vehicles around you.

If you have a traffic accident you have to report it to the police.  We were unfortunately shunted from the back at some traffic lights on one visit – make sure you carry your full driving licence with you and also have your rental documents.  We found the officer of the Florida Highway Patrol to be very efficient and empathetic with us!  He took no stick from the other driver who was endited on the spot.

We find that a lot of visitors are quite nervous about driving in Florida, however, we would say don’t be – it is a lot easier than driving in the UK and it is a shame not to drive over there and not see more of this fantastic state.


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