Is Driving in America Difficult? How do people Drive in USA ?

In Living in US by KumarUpdated : 7 Comments

I still remember how crazy it was trying to learn how to drive back home. We did not own a car back in India and my uncle owned a TATA 407 Van…My uncle took me to a big lake that was dried out because of severe drought and made me practice driving…it was just intense…I had to use the clutch, change the gear, step on the accelerator ( step on gas in US terminology ) and use the steering all at the same time…As I just learnt very basics back home, I was very nervous thinking about driving in America… I heard people drive at 120 kmph or 140 kmph …Guess what, I come to America and things are completely different…No clutch, no need to change gear, no need to press accelerator or step on gas on freeway(using cruise control)….it just changed my perception. Let me share my perspective on driving in America so that internationals have an idea about driving in USA.

How are Cars Built to drive in USA ? How hard is it to drive in America ?

Not trying to generalize, but for the most part, most of the cars people use have automatic transmission. What it means is, there is no need to change the gear once you put the vehicle on drive. Car driving USA Automatic GearIn general, in manual transmission engines, you have to use the clutch and change the gears from 1st to 2nd, then to 3rd and so on until top gear…but, in Automatic transmission engine cars, you just have a lever that has four positions Drive(D4), Drive(D3), Reverse, Neutral and Park…the thing is, these are in straight line and just move it back and forward…There is no clutch, all you have to do move the gear lever or gear rod(as some call it ) from neutral to D4 or just D, which means drive and you just step on the gas or accelerator . The car automatically changes its gears and keeps going. Also, D3 or D2(just another step in Drive) is occasionally used to climb mountains…honestly, I have never had to use D3 or D2 in the last 6 years or so.  Another cool thing about cars in US, most of the cars are equipped with cruise control system. It helps you set a speed limit and let the car maintain the speed limit without stepping on gas or accelerator. The cruise control mode is turned off as soon as you step on the brake or manually reset it using controls. So, if you get on the Freeway or interstate highway system, you can just put the speed control on Cruise control. All you have to do is just use the steering to make sure you are on right course…Ultimately, what I am trying to say is driving in America is very simple (Unless you have a manual drive vehicle) and there is nothing to worry if you do not have much experience driving car or any four wheeler.

How do People actually drive in America ? Traffic Rules, Stop Signals ?

Some of you living outside of US in countries like India know, traffic rules can be relative at times and if you are not in a big metro city, some people do break rules and can get away…but, things are different in America, if you break a rule, you are screwed ! Read one of my experiences, where I got a $400 ticket (fine) for breaking traffic rule in USA . Anyways, most of the people drive by rules in America…There are automatic cameras monitoring you at traffic junctions, there are cops(police) watching you…unless you are lucky and escape, you have high chances to be caught by someone or something… Most people in America,  just stick to rules. If there is a four way stop and no traffic lights, people follow rules very properly and let the right person drive first… You will not hear people using the horn or honking at you often. If someone do honk at you, it means that they just swore at you “F*** Y**”, because you broke a rule or did something wrong with your driving….so, beware of it !  If someone do honk at you, check your driving and see if you have done something wrong…learn from your mistakes 🙂 . Also, sometimes, when you are at a Traffic light or at a stop light, you might not see any cars around or not even a camera,  Please do not get tempted and try to break rule, it is just asking for trouble… Most of the people drive by rules and as long as you follow rules, driving is a piece of cake and it is safe for you too…

Any other driving in US tips or Thoughts ? Driving related  Stories to share ?


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Comments ( 7 )

  1. Kitty Lam

    I got my driving licence 30 years ago, now am 60 years old, hardly drive for living in the city has public transportation, now I moved and lived in suburban areas that I suddenly feel scare to drive, I rely my husband and Lyft but still I need the freedom of in/out, should I learn to drive at my age? Anybody will teach old lady like me? What you think I should do. My husband worry I will get into accident better not try. Yes I do fear to drive. Thanks for any suggestions.

    1. administrator

      Yes, why NOT…age should NOT be a constraint…as long as you have good vision and ability to react, you can definitely learn…Contact any local Driving Schools and give it a shot…

  2. Omoshiroi

    Yes, most cars in America are “automatic” vs “manual” Manual being the one where you have to switch all those gears with the clutch… If possible, most Americans buy themselves a car with automatic gear..

    Those extra gears noted D2 and D3 as you mentioned are mostly used in heavy snow conditions, therefore most drivers in america will never have to use those, Hahah.

    Americans take their traffic rules seriously. Always stop at stop signs and red lights…Go on the green light – AND make sure you’re in the correct lane to make your right and left turns accordingly before hand. You will get a lot of horns and cursing at you for cutting infront of people in the last minute.

    Getting your drivers license in America varies by the state. Some states you can get them as early as 14 years of age. Other states you have to wait until you’re 18. Also, you must obtain what is known as a Learner’s Permit first as a “gateway” to a driver;’s license. You must take a test a head of time to get your Learner’s Permit. It’s a way to have somebody legally teach you how to drive. You can’t just get a permit and go. Right before your Learner’s Permit expires, you need to take the drivers test. If you pass, you get your Driver’s License. If you fail, you need to renew your permit and start all over again.

    Also, do not ever drive a car without car insurance. This is also a huge “NO” in America.

  3. Rajesh

    Thank you Kumar for your Wonderful work by this Blog, It would be nice if you can share ” The process of getting an Old/new car registration” and Tips…and also owning a car, Moving between coasts or states versus Renting a car.


    How about getting driving license in USA ? Is it simple?
    Is Indian international driving license valid in all the states in USA?

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