January 16, 2018

Tips for Driving in the United States

As a RN, MT, or PT moving to work in the United States, you can be confident that your clinical skill-set will translate well into the American healthcare system. One area that intimidates many newcomers to the country, however, is the need to drive. In the U.S., many healthcare facilities do not sit along public transportation routes, and will require you to drive to work on a regular basis. Fortunately, you can begin preparing well in advance for this new challenge so that, when the time comes, you can get behind the wheel with confidence.The USA has wide lanes, simple road layouts, safe speeds, and lots of road signs. Drivers follow the rules of the road and, for the most part, are friendly, so it's easy to get the hang of and learn by observation. You may need to get used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, but that's not too big an adjustment to make. Eventually, you'll get used to driving with semi-trucks, which frequent American highways along with�other cars.You'll quickly get used to the American style of road behavior by practicing when you get here. In the meantime, refer to these driving tips so that you can become as prepared as possible!

Becoming Familiar with Your Automobile

To be efficient and react quickly to changing road conditions, you need to know the layout of your car. The most important things, such as turn signals, headlights, windshield wipers, and hazard lights, need to be identified immediately when you get in a car. You also need to know the components of the instrumentation panel and read the messages on your dashboard. Suddenly-changing conditions (darkness, fog, rain, snow, ice, etc.) can significantly affect your driving, so you need to react to changes immediately. Before hitting the road, make sure that you know the functions and locations of all interior mechanisms of your car.

State Driving Manuals & Websites

Start preparing to drive in your state by reviewing and studying the state's driving manual. It's also a good idea to go to the state website to review the requirements needed to apply for a state driver license.Questions for consideration:�How long will your international driver's license be valid for in the state? For example, although your International Driver's license is valid for a year, some states only recognize an International Driver's license for 30 days after you establish an address or residency in the state. It's also good to learn what paperwork you need to bring with you when applying. What are the fees associated with applying?

Unsure which State You Will Be Working and Living in?

No problem. Here are the topics covered in all manuals. (We suggest studying Texas' manual in the meantime.)

  • Traffics signals and signs: Standard colors, shapes, warnings, etc.
  • Driver's license information: State point system, insurance law
  • Communication to other drivers: Using horn, emergency signals
  • Rules of the road: Intersections, flashing lights, left turns, road markings
  • Practice the rules of safe driving: Remaining alert, avoiding distractions, distance, defense driving, sharing the road, car seats
  • Protecting your driving privileges: Moving violations, financial responsibilities
  • Driving situations and conditions: Driving at night and with fog or other inclement weather

Ways to Conquer Driving Anxiety

Driving should be something that you enjoy doing, not something to fear. You can overcome your anxiousness around driving by trying some of the below tips.

  • Get used to the controls of your car while it's stationary�don't play with the seat controls or in-car entertainment system on the move.
  • Stick to daytime driving at first. Wait to drive at night until you've conquered daytime driving. Practice first on a Sunday morning, when the traffic is generally at its lightest.
  • Switch your phone off�a ringing/buzzing phone will only make you more stressed.
  • If you have passengers and feel their conversation is distracting, tell them to stop talking�your task is to drive safely, not to entertain them.
  • Don't allow other drivers to pressure you into going faster. If you are at the speed limit, you are in the right.
  • Allow plenty of time to get to where you're going.
  • Take a driver's training course if needed�you'll feel more prepared for any situation.
  • Keep practicing even if it gets challenging!
  • Learn to love highway driving�start out by driving on lesser-used highways at a less busy time during the day.
  • Listen to music at low volume; this will keep you relaxed!
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