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Driving to the United States compared to driving in France

There are different ways of driving in the world, some countries like Great Britain, people drive on the left. The way of driving differs from one country to another. In the United States, the rules of driving are similar to those in Europe.

view from a car dashboard

Traffic regulations

The highway code is similar to that of France, there are just a few rules that differ:

  •  Americans also drive on the right side of the road
  • Wearing a seat belt is mandatory
  • At an intersection without traffic lights, it’s the first one to arrive who passes…
  • Americans don’t know the roundabouts
  • If a police car is following you, park on the side of the road and do not touch your glove compartment to get the vehicle papers. Always keep both hands where I can see them. They’ll think you’re armed if you don’t.
  • Some left-hand lanes are reserved for carpooling (vehicle with at least 2 people).

As in Europe, parking on the streets is subject to general rules (e.g. do not park in front of a driveway, a garage exit, against the direction of the road or on a pedestrian crossing).


    • P= Parking 
    • R=Reverse. You have to press the accelerator to reverse.
    • N= Neutral
    • D= Drive. You just have to press the accelerator, the gears shift on their own.


The directions are very well indicated. Be careful, don’t be surprised but in the United States, roads are identified by a number with a cardinal point (north, south, west, east).

Particularity of driving Americans

Driving in the United States is much quieter than in France (a few drivers will honk their horns).

In France, the right rear view mirror is an accessory that limits an option. But in the United States, it is very important because you can be overtaken on both sides (right or left) when you are on a highway.

In the United States, if the traffic light is red and you want to turn right, you can. This helps to keep the traffic flowing. You just have to respect the rule of priority with the vehicles coming in front of you.

Highways are generally free in the United States except for those marked “Turnpike” or “Toll Road”. In France, to avoid paying, you have to take the departmental or regional roads because all highways have a toll to access them.


Parking in the United States is easier than in Europe. There are parking lots on every street corner.

In built-up areas, parking is done either by taking into account the signs or the curb on the pavement (color code). For example, if the curb is green, your parking is authorized but only for a limited time. This is specified by a sign usually placed on the side.


The cost of gasoline in the United States is derisory compared to France. If you fill up your tank, you’re going to get about 17 euros ( $20). It’s amazing how cheap it is. While in France, a full tank of gas will cost about 40 euros (it will depend on the size of your vehicle and the capacity of its tank). 

As in Europe, there are 2 types of fuel: petrol and diesel. 

The payment is made either at the pump (your confidential code will never be asked). You just have to insert your credit card in the automat. Then you will be asked for a zip code, try several zeros or a random code, otherwise go to the second method: payment at the cash desk, it allows you to pay in cash, with a credit card or by check.

Driving in the United States is very simple, slight changes apply to the traffic regulations. But it is similar to driving in Europe. Only the gearbox literally changes because it’s automatic, but nothing very complicated. It should be all in the past!