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What are the differences in traffic regulations in the USA?

If you travel to the USA or you will be driving in the US for the first time, we have prepared a summary of the changes you will be facing on your Route 66 trip.


Right in the beginning of this article, we want to make sure you do not have to worry about anything. From a European perspective, riding a car or a motorcycle in the USA is very comfortable, and the differences in regulations are minimal.

Americans drive like elsewhere in the world – the city is more aggressive and the countryside is peaceful and slow. Get ready to drive on highways with 6 to 10 lanes (mainly in Los Angeles). Americans are mostly disciplined on the road and aggressive rides are rarely occuring. On the other hand, you may find yourself on the road with a drunk driver. Therefore, be reasonably careful.

Traffic signs are easy to read and you can understand them with text commands. Nevertheless, prepare for a few differences.

Allowed right turn on red signal

In the USA, you are riding on the right side of the road. One of the big differences is that the US is allowed to turn right when the red light is on the traffic lights. Of course, you have to give priority to cars that cross the crossroad to the green. WARNING! At some intersections, the right turn to red is forbidden, there is always a clear traffic ban mark.

4-way stop

Another difference is the ALL STOP or 4-WAY STOP sign. In simple junctions, all incoming cars must stop on the STOP sign and cross the junction in the order they entered. The STOP sign is used very often, even on a wide and clear path. However, there are many roundabouts in America where you have to give priority to a car that is already passing through the roundabout.

Speed ​​Limit

The speed limitation is usually very well marked. We recommend to strictly respect speed limits in cities. Police cars with radar patrol often across the city and tickets are pretty high in the US. Camera speed traps are rarely used on Route 66 and are marked, especially in large cities.

Turn to the side road

Directional traffic signs are located behind the crossway turn, so watch out for them. When you see the mark, turn ☺!  The number of miles on the traffic sign indicates the overall distance to the target.

Closures and detours

In the recent years, municipality authorities along Route 66 have been investing heavily in road repairs, so it may happen that you meet a closed path and a bypass. We monitor all detours in Route 66 Navigation app, but if you meet one that our app does not know, they are well marked, so you should see them. Beware, because those detours are mostly designed for large trucks, so there might be shorter and faster alternatives for cars and motorcycles. Use common sense and intuition ☺

Police inspections

In the US, police stops you only if you commit a violation or a crime. There are no preventive controls. If you drive according to regulations, the chance that police stops you is minimal. Police are patrolling in different places, and most are usually marked with a car. However, speed is also measured in unmarked cars, mostly in black ones.
WARNING! Never stop your car on the road behind a police car, cops can judge it as a threat.

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