You have checked in at your hotel in Orlando. With your U.S. Visa, Brazilian driver’s license, and international driving permit in hand you head to the rental car agency ready to take to the American roads and enjoy your vacation. You are confident that since you drive in Sao Paulo every day that American roads and traffic will be no problem, think again, there are subtle yet important differences, as you soon find out, after getting on the Interstate Highway in route to pick up your family a police car with blue lights and siren going pulls you over. After the officer leaves, you are looking at traffic citations for speeding in a construction zone; ($320.00), HOV lane violation ($160.00), no headlights in the rain ($130.00), and failure to wear seatbelt ($130.00) for a total of US $740.00, but the good news is that the date to pay the fines is one month away, and you will be back in Brazil in two weeks. Back at the hotel you remember an article on English Experts about driving in the USA, and decide to get your laptop out and read it despite of cries of “Papai, Vamos Para Disney, AGORA!”.
Three months after a very enjoyable vacation to Orlando you are looking at your latest credit card statement, and are shocked when you see three new charges from the rental car company in Orlando, for “Traffic Fines, Orlando, FL” – $740.00”, “ Late Fees Traffic Tickets – US $120.00” and “Processing Fees Traffic Tickets (4 ea.) – US $200.00”, all with the notation of “See paragraph 26.c.1 rental contract”, suddenly you feel very sick.
Some things you need to know are:
- In the U.S., notification of speed enforcement is not required and is never given, your speed can be clocked by radar, laser, timing with a stopwatch, aircraft or a police car (marked or unmarked) pacing your car from the front or rear.
- NEVER EVER (sic) pass a stopped school bus from either direction if its red lights are flashing. In Florida this violation requires a mandatory court appearance with a fine of up to US$500.00, and as an out of state driver you will be required to post an appearance bond of $500.00 in CASH.
- Fines in a school or construction zone are doubled.
- Stop lights mean stop at all times, never stop and then go even late at night, some cities use automatic cameras to record violations and mail a citation to the owner of the car.
- When a traffic light changes to yellow stop, but only if you can do so safely.
- Stop signs and flashing red traffic lights mean come to a complete stop then proceed if there is no hazard.
- Turn on your windshield wipers AND HEAD LIGHTS when it is raining.
- When making a right turn at a red light always look for a small sign saying “NO TURN ON RED” or “NO RIGHT TURN ON RED”.
- “HOV LANE” or “HOV” means “high occupancy vehicle lane” you must have at least two people in the car to use the lane.
- Move over and or slow down when passing any stopped vehicle with blue, red, or yellow flashing lights, (Police, Fire, Ambulance, and Service Vehicles).
- Do not follow too closely, allow at least two to three seconds separation between your car and the one in front of you.
- Never drive on the shoulder or between lanes, even if you are on a motorcycle.
- If you have mechanical trouble, pull of the road onto the shoulder, raise your engine hood and place a cloth (red or yellow is preferred) outside the drivers window, this is a signal asking for help.
- Remember that in the U.S.A. a police officer’s word carries much more weight in court than a citizen’s word does.
- If you follow these suggestions your vacation in America will be much more enjoyable and safer.
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Sobre o Autor: Bill Slayman tem 66 anos é americano e mora em Pensacola, Florida, USA. Ele atuou no exército americano e hoje está aposentado. Suas paixões são: andar de Harley Davidson, motocicletas, fotografia e qualquer coisa brasileira. Bill é um dos maiores colaboradores do EE.