Driving In Florida
Collecting Your Car From The Airport.
This is probably the first time you have been outside since you landed and hopefully the warm/hot Florida air will greet you! Here at last!! Finding your vehicle. With Dollar they will give you the agreement at the desk, you need to hand it over to the clerk in a hut inside the car park where you will be given the keys to your car, they will also point you in the right direction. With Alamo, you go find the car in your category and once you have settled on the one you want you drive off. The keys are inside the vehicle and as you leave the Alamo section of the car park there is a booth where you hand over your agreement and the operator lets you out. in all cases though, once you find your vehicle take a quick look around it and make sure there is no damage to it. Adjust the mirrors and seats (most are electric operated by a switch down the side of the seat). Turn the key in the ignition and start the engine, most cars run very quiet on tick over. If you have never driven an automatic before, put your foot on the brake pedal and select the gear, mostly the parking brake is not engaged but if it is release it. A lot of cars have a pedal that you push down to engage the parking brake and a pull out lever to release it just at the bottom of the dash, although one or two have a push on push off action. Once it is disengaged release your foot of the brake and the vehicle will move slowly back or forward whichever. Another thing for people new to automatics, forget about your left foot! It is surprising how many people try to use the left foot for braking.
You then head out of the garage car park, this is probably the worst part of the journey. Depending on where you are staying depends on which exit you need to take. Generally, if you are staying anywhere near Disney, Kissimmee, most of the villa communities or anywhere on the Hwy 192 then you would need the South Exit. If you are staying anywhere near International Drive, Universal or Sea World then you need the North Exit. The North exit leads to the Hwy 528 (Toll) (Beachline Expressway) (used to be called the Beeline expressway)has the signs saying “Orlando West and Area Attractions and Tampa” The other one says “Cocoa Beach & Daytona” You don't want this exit unless of course you are staying in Daytona or the Cocoa area. If you take the South Exit it leads to the 417 (Toll) This road takes you down to the Interstate 4 around the Disney 192 area. Passing by Celebration. It is handy to take some small denomination Dollar bills with you for these tolls.
Collecting your Car. Once you have cleared immigration and customs and have left the building through the sliding doors. You cross the road and you will see the car hire building. There you pick up your keys and agreement and walk out to the car park and collect your car. There are basically 2 ways to get to Orlando and Kissimmee from here. First, as you leave the airport you will see a sign for the Hwy 417 (Toll). This is the same toll road that is near Orlando Airport and all you need to do is to stay on that road till you come to the 528 (Beachline Expressway) If you are on International drive area, just follow the signs for the Convention Center. If you are staying in a villa or Kissimmee then stay on the 417 till you get to the exit for the 192 or the Interstate 4 to get to the Villa accommodation. The second choice is more for seasoned US visitors and that is to go past the ramp for the 417 and keep on going till you reach the interstate 4. Then take the ramp for Tampa. Going this way is cheaper but is a lot busier as you drive through the city of Orlando, you will also see the turn offs for International Drive, Sea World, the 192 and the 27 where a lot of the villa accommodation is.
Orlando Florida Driving Tips
Many people on their first visit to Orlando or other parts of Florida are filled with trepidation about driving there. It's not as bad as you think believe me. I would sooner drive there than round some of our major cities and towns any day.
Things to remember, obviously drive on the right (seems more natural anyway) but this is when you have to be extra careful, especially when tired after a long flight, first thing in the morning or turning out of a car park or petrol station for example. I tend to make more mistakes when I return home than I do there.
If You are the driver make sure you carry your driving license and rental agreement with you in the vehicle. You could be asked to produce them if stopped by the Police.
Yellow School buses. These have a special rule that means if they stop to take on or let off passengers, traffic in both directions must stop too. If you driving in the opposite direction on a duel carriageway then you need not stop.
Florida's Move Over Law
On a two-lane roadway, you are required to slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit.
If the speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less, you must slow down to five miles per hour.
If you are driving on an interstate or roadway with multiple lanes of travel in the same direction, and you approach an emergency or law enforcement vehicle parked along the roadway, you must vacate the lane closest to that vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. If you are not able to safely move over, you must slow down to a speed of 20 MPH below the posted speed limit unless directed otherwise by a law enforcement officer.
Violating the move over law puts both yourself and a public safety professional at risk.
Violating the move over law can result in a fine and points on your license. Effective July 1, 2014, the law was changed to include sanitation vehicles and utility service vehicles.
If it rains in Florida it is compulsory to have your vehicle lights on. Rain can be pretty torrential in Florida and if visibility is poor pull over and wait for the rain to ease.
Stop Signs: It is important that when you come to a stop sign or you are turning right on Red that the wheels come to a full stop. It could save you getting a ticket.
Children under 4 years of age must be seated in a child seat by law. All drivers and adult passengers must wear seat belts at all times whether in the front or back.
Drink Driving is very strict in Florida. It will also invalidate your rental agreement insurance. So if you drink please don't drive. It is also illegal to have alcohol in the car. It needs to be in the trunk (Boot).
One good thing is that you can turn Right on a Red traffic light (Unless it says “No right turn on Red” above the lights.) Traffic lights tend to be over the centre of the junction rather than the start of it so remember to pull up shorter.
Overtaking (Passing) you can pass on either side of vehicle on 3 lane highways. However they do recommend that you return to the right lane after overtaking.
If you come to a crossroads that has no clear priority vehicles proceed in the order that they arrive at the stop sign. This works surprisingly well. There are not too many of these though you will only find these on smaller roads such as housing communities and I think there is one at the North end of I Drive near the Prime one shopping mall.
All of the cars have Air conditioning and you need it too!! After the car being stood all day long at a theme park it resembles something like an oven. What I do is open the door and start the car, close the door and wait a couple of minutes while the air con blasts away to cool it down a bit.
Fuel: This is a bit different to the UK. Some of the pumps work differently to the UK involving lifting the nozzle housing to start the fuel flow. Also many Gas Stations insist on prepayment of fuel. Gas prices are still higher than they were a few years ago but are still a lot cheaper than the UK. Just also bear in mind that something like a Dodge Durango, a lovely vehicle but will only give you something like 12-15 miles to the Gallon.
Road Signs: These tend to not give a lot of warning so keep your eyes peeled. Don’t worry if you miss your exit as most places have gaps where you can u-turn, except the interstate where you will just have to go to the next exit. You will experience a lot of u-turns as this is quite the norm. It is the only way to access some places especially on International Drive. You can see where you want to be but the is a grass central reservation preventing you so what you do is go further down the road and do a u-turn at the lights (If permitted) or there will be a section cut out of the central reservation to allow for u-turns. The older section of I drive is not a problem as there is no reservation.