Driving & Traveling in USA

Before driving a car in USA, you must know how to do it. Mostly people above 16 know and can drive. You will find many people walking however cars are most favorite medium of commute while going somewhere. People prefer cars over buses and metros because petrol and cars are very cheap. In bigger cities where the roads are often blocked on morning and evening people use the buses and metros as well. Usually every household has cars equal to the adult living in the household.

Road networks in USA:

You will find excellent road networking throughout the USA that connects each state. The term Highway is used instead of motorway in Pakistan. The highway is also known as interstate (The highway that connects different states) and represents with an “I”, the famous interstates in USA are I-81, I-90 and I-95 etc. Driving on a highway is safe however for a Pakistani driving for the first time on a highway might be confusing as we are not use to so many roads and exits while driving at such a fast speed. To know the roads better mostly new people buy a GPS (global positioning system) device that help and guide throughout about the way as you drive. GPS is very common and can easily be available for below $100. I would recommend buying a GPS especially for those who want to use their cars for traveling to other cities for work or pleasure.

Accidents on USA roads:

Fast speed and the more number of vehicles on roads can increase the chances for accidents. USA is among the countries with high accident rates even they maintain safe driving rules and monitor the rules very well but still accidents happens. People working in big cities like New York usually lives in suburban cities to avoid high living cost thus commuting on daily basis sometimes driving more than an hour daily to reach their work places. Due to this reason from 7am – 9pm and in evening from 4pm – 6pm roads are too crowded and for some people it almost take twice the time to reach their homes than it normally take. Traveling distance in USA does not matter much because of the high power engine cars and excellent roads.

Defined speed limits:

The KM (kilometers) units are not used USA, you will always find distance measurement in miles. The speed limits usually found in USA on interstates vary from 55 – 75 MPH (miles per hour) mostly 60 MPH. The other highways usually have speed limit ranges from 40 – 55 MPH. The roads connecting towns or surrounding areas usually have lower speed limit that varies from 25 – 45 MPH

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Condition of roads:

Unlike Pakistan you might find almost all roads well built with proper road signs that guides you really well thus save your time e.g. the road is closed, curve ahead etc. You will notice as soon you will leave airport that the roads are well built gives a glimpse of a developed country. You might also find some roads with wear and tear but it’s not very common.

Pedestrian respect & sharing the roads concept:

In Pakistan we honk the people walking besides the roads, with non existence of footpath its difficult for pedestrian to avoid the road completely, but people on car feel that pedestrians should stop walking if there is no foot path. In USA the people walking on streets have the utmost respect; you must let them pass when they step on road for crossing it, it’s a law to stop for pedestrian on a zebra crossing.
While driving a car in USA you should know the concept of sharing the road with others, the concept is that everyone pays tax and has equal right to drive a car on road. Give way when you think you can and if you see someone waiting to get a way for a long you can volunteer any time to help him by stopping and giving him the way. You will notice people giving you way many times; do not forget to wave your hand for thanks.
The situation of the above mentioned rules might be different in different states as where there is too much traffic people might not be that polite and helpful.
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Department of Motor Vehicles – DMV:

Department o motor vehicle handles everything related to roads and cars including vehicle registration, vehicle registration Renewal, car ownership title transfer and drivers license etc. DMV keeps driver’s records, traffic accident reports etc.
Every state has different traffic rules and the motor vehicle department name “DMV” may also differ in different states. You can visit your state website for complete information of DMV, like the Virginia DMV website iswww.dmv.state.va.us

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Pakistani driving license in USA:

If you do not have a computerized driving license, it’s useless. If you have computerized driving license it also might not benefit you in USA (the rule may vary in different states) you will need an international driving permit to initially drive in USA because the state drivers permit may take time to issue.

To get a state ID / Drivers license you need to pass a written computerized driving test whether you have any international license or not. The written test gives you idea about basic traffic rules & traffic sings. You can have a handout for free from any DMV to prepare for the test and after passing a test you will get your learner’s driver permit. This permit can be used in the presence of an adult license holder. Depending on the specific time at any state, e.g. after one month you can visit the DMV for the driving test to get a valid driver’s license.

If you have a computerized Pakistani drivers license then take it with you as there are slight chances that it can save you from the road test. Prepare for the road test, go to DMV, present your Pakistani license and they will check it in their records. If available in their records they will print your driver’s license right away otherwise you have to give the road test to acquire the driver’s license.

I was holding a computerized driver’s license issued from Lahore, as per the DMV they only had information of licenses issued from Islamabad and my license was not verifiable so I gave the road test. This info might not work for anyone however it’s no harm taking your license to DMV.

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International Driving License in USA:

If you want to immediately drive after reaching USA then you can get an International Driving Permit (IDP). IDP basically translates information contained on your driver’s license into 10 languages so that officials in foreign countries are able to interpret it. An IDP supplements a valid government-issued license; it does not serve as a replacement for a license. If you are stopped by police, you will most likely be asked to produce both your IDP and your official Pakistani driver’s license. The United States does NOT issue International Driving Permits to foreign visitors, so you will need to obtain this document before traveling to the U.S.
The U.S. government has issued warnings about Internet vendors of fake international driver’s licenses/permits. It is important to educate yourself about the dangers of these costly and illegal licenses. My husband also acquired one for 5000PKR before coming but we came to know later on that it was not real.

How to find airline tickets national / international:

Buying tickets in USA is as easy as 1, 2, and 3. Buy tickets online without involving or calling any travel agent. There are lots of websites from where you can buy tickets online. Just enter the destination and dates and the website will provide you all details and prices of all airlines offering the flight for same route. The most common websites used to buy a ticket are

1. www.expedia.com

2. www.orbitz.com

3. www.travelocity.com

4. www.cheapoair.com

5. www.priceline.com

6. www.hotwire.com

Note: You can also book hotels, cars, vacation packages & more.

There are 5 comments left Go To Comment

  1. Tom Morrisey /

    Remember that 95% of cars are automatic transmission in the US, so don’t be confused if you get in the car and there is no clutch!

  2. Kamran Khan /

    I failed my road test twice because of many things. One steering wheel in US is on the wrong side while in Pakistan it is on the right side. I turned on wipers how many time instead of indicator light for turning the car.
    Many times I tried to change the gear because I was use to manual shifter instead of automatic.
    I never stop on any stop sign because I thought if there is no traffic on the road it is not necessary to stop. But even if the the road is empty you how to obey road signs or the dmv personnel who is taking your road test will fail you .
    In certain areas there are fix speed limits if you disobey those speed limit they will fail you. My speed in school zone was 40 but the legal speed limit is 20. You can go 30 in the school zone but if the lights are flashing in the school zone area then you have to go only 20 mph or lesser.

    1. admin / Post Author

      Nice tips for the readers, thanks. Hope you pass next time, it also depends upon in what area you are giving test, if its small city you tend to pass easily however in bigger cities its bit difficult however the mistakes you mentioned, you might not pass in smaller city too. All these things are mandatory, specially the stop sign and school speed limit zone. Its better to practice with a driver you will get use to of it in no time.

  3. zain ul hai saeem /

    Hi,I want to settle in usa, but i have only 3 lakh rupees, can I get work visa in just 3 lakhs???

    1. admin / Post Author

      Dear zain, visa fee is $160 (around 14,500) and remaining money you can show in your bank statement and you can apply for a visit visa but I cannot say if you will get a visa or not money is not the main issue, main issue is that when people have no proper job/education or business in Pakistan and want to go to United States the officer assume that they will never come back and will stay in USA illegally so they reject the visa there an then.

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