The British Tourist’s Guide to Driving in Orlando Florida
Planning on spending your time exploring Orlando in Florida? Renting a car is the best way to get around Orlando.
However, there are numerous rules of the road that will ensure your safety, your passengers and other road users.
To make sure you have a great time while visiting Orlando, we put together a guide to driving in Orlando.
This guide is packed with information that will help you get around the city safely.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Rent a Car in Orlando?
To drive in Orlando Florida, you must be at least 15 years old. Basically, you can obtain a driver’s license at 15 years in Florida, but there are restrictions when it comes to night driving.
If you want to rent a vehicle in Orlando, the minimum age is 20 years old. However, this is not a state requirement or law.
When it comes to the minimum age to rent a car, it usually depends on the car rental company.
Most car rental companies in Orlando require renters to be at least 21 years old. For example, Hertz rents vehicles at most of its US locations, including Orlando, Florida to renters aged 18 to 25 years.
However, for renters under the age of 25 years, the company usually charges a young driver fee of $19 per day.
Why you may ask. This is because the NHTSA statistics show that young drivers are more likely to be involved in car accidents.
Some car rental companies have few exceptions to the minimum age requirement. For example, in Florida, most car rental companies will rent to young drivers aged 18 years and older if they’re in active military duty. Also, they will rent to young drivers with government-issued travel orders.
What Documentation Do I Need to Hire a Rental Car in Orlando?
Car rental companies will require you to have the following documentation:
- Valid driver’s license with a photo
- Photo ID (for example passport)
- a debit or credit card with available credit
The US and UK have an agreement whereby a person with a full and valid UK can rent vehicles in the US and drive.
However, you must have held the UK license for over a year. Some US car rental companies are happy to let UK citizens hire a vehicle with them using their UK driving license.
Other car rental companies will request you have an International Drivers Permit or IDP. The International Drivers Permit is usually issued to drivers allowing them to drive legally in another country.
With an International Drivers Permit, UK drivers can drive in the US and Canada with a UK license.
You can apply for the International Drivers Permit in the UK from the post office. It only costs £5.50.
Remember, it’s not compulsory to have an International Drivers Permit to drive in the US for UK drivers. But it can help to have one if you plan on hiring a car.
How Is Driving in Orlando Different From the UK?
In Orlando, Florida like in other locations in the US, people drive on the right side of the road.
However, if you can drive in London and other locations in the UK, you can drive in Orlando, Florida.
Yes, the roads in the US are wide, but like in the UK, all you need to do is follow the traffic in front of you.
Most car rental companies have automatic cars which are simple and easy to drive. When you pick up your rental car at the airport, familiarise yourself with the car.
This means adjusting the steering wheel, seat and mirrors to ensure comfortable seating while driving. We also recommend familiarising yourself with US traffic laws.
What Are the Rules of the Road?
Speaking of US rules of the road, the following are some of the general driving laws.
The first rule of the road you must observe in the US is always drive on the right side of the road. Next, the white lines separate lanes of traffic travelling in the same direction.
If the lines are solid, always stay in your lane, but if you find broken lines, you can change lanes when it’s safe.
If turning at an intersection, pass in front of cars turning left from the opposing direction. Do not try to pass behind the cars. If passing others travelling your direction, use the left lane. Never pass other cars in the right lane.
Always yield to pedestrians. Basically, you must bring your car to a complete stop every time you see pedestrians trying to cross the street.
If you see an emergency vehicle with a siren running, pull over or stop at an intersection. This will allow the emergency vehicle to pass.
Don’t forget to watch out for road signs and traffic lights.
What are Toll Roads?
A toll road is a section of the highway or highway where drivers pay a fee for the maintenance and upkeep of the road.
Toll roads are common in Europe and the United States and rare in the UK. They are usually less congested which means faster travel times for drivers.
Failure to pay the toll means the local highway authority will penalise you. If driving a rental car, the highway authority will contact the rental company and request the driver’s details.
Before driving on Orlando, Florida roads, do a quick check online. Find out if the city has toll roads and how they work.
Some countries have a mixture of electronic and manned booths, while others have either electronic or manned booths. We recommend that you contact the local highway authority to learn about the toll roads in Orlando.
You can also check with the car rental desk. They can tell you about toll roads in the city and how to pay for your tolls.
How Much Are Toll Roads in Orlando?
From downtown Orlando to the vibrant theme parks and all localities in Orlando, you can pay your tolls with ease. The following are ways to pay for your tolls when driving in Orlando, Florida:
- Pay By Plate Toll Invoice
For the Pay By Plate and E-Pass options, drivers can use any lane. However, the majority of Florida toll roads are converting from no-cash tolling to all-electronic. Basically, every car driving on Florida’s toll roads must have a Sunpass transponder.
If you pay with E-Pass, the minimum toll is $0.50 for cars with two axles. If you do not have a Sunpass or an approved Florida transponder, you’ll have to pay your tolls using Toll-By-Plate.
What Are the Car Insurance Options?
When it comes to car insurance, there are several types of coverage each with its benefits and costs. The following are the common types of auto insurance.
- Liability car insurance
- Rental insurance
- Physical damage car insurance
- Uninsured motorist coverage
- Personal injury or No-fault protection
Liability car insurance protects the other party when you’re at fault in case of a car accident. This type of car insurance pays for expenses that result from injuries sustained in the car accident as well as damaged property.
Rental insurance is usually extended to rental cars. This is a form of liability insurance coverage which means in case you’ve an accident, the insurer will pay the other party for injuries and damage.
So, before you hire a vehicle, double-check with your insurer first. This will ensure that you don’t pay extra for the rental company’s car insurance.
Physical damage car insurance covers repair costs in case your car gets damaged in an accident or a fallen tree branch. There are two types of coverage – comprehensive and collision. Comprehensive covers issues such as damage from natural disasters and theft. Collision covers repairs for your vehicle.
Uninsured coverage is a relatively low-cost coverage for drives without any insurance coverage. Most states in the US require drivers to include uninsured coverage as part of the minimum required auto insurance.
Lastly, we have personal injury protection/no-fault coverage. This cover pays for medical expenses for you and the passengers in your car.
It covers medical expenses regardless of who is at fault in the car accident. This is mandatory in some US states and optional in others.
What Happens if I Have an Accident?
If you’re involved in a car accident in the US, call the police immediately. While waiting for the police, take out your smartphone or camera and get photos of the accidents. Take photos of the number plates of the vehicle(s) and their position.
Then, take the names and addresses of the witnesses and also notes of what happened. Make sure you interview as many witnesses as possible. Do not admit liability or apologise for the accident before the police arrive.
Instead, contact your insurer as soon as possible. This is because insurance policies have a time limit for reporting car accidents. If you fail to meet this, your insurer will not cover you. What happens next depends on your coverage.
Next, contact the car rental company and make sure you give them as much information about the car accident. Finally, never repair the rental car without approval from the car rental company.
Can I Use My Mobile Phone While Driving?
On July 1st, 2019, the Wireless Communications While Driving Law, section 316.305 of Florida Statutes took effect.
The law requires drivers to put their smartphones and tablets down and then focus on driving. It also allows law enforcement officers in Florida to stop vehicles and issue citations to drivers if found texting and driving.
Drivers are also prohibited from using a phone in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, active work zone or school zone. When drivers are not focused on the road, it limits their ability to come to a stop and avoid an accident.
While it’s not recommended, you can text at a red light when your car has come to a stop. But if you’re in an active work zone or school zone, you’re not allowed to pick calls. This is also true when driving in traffic or at a stop sign.
While behind the wheel, the law also prohibits drivers from scrolling through social media channels and playing games.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a SatNav?
Wherever your travels will take you in Orlando, Florida, it’s best to have SatNav. With a touch screen display, the SatNav device is easy to use.
Not only that. It provides easy-to-follow directions to must-see attractions, your hotel, ATMs, and other locations.
Unless included in the agreement, SatNav systems are usually available at an additional cost. The daily rental fee for SatNav is $11.99 – $14.99, and the weekly rental fee is $65 to $75.
Note, that the SatNav rental fee is subject to change at any time by the car rental company.
Does My Child Need a Car Seat?
Florida law requires children aged 5 and under to be properly secured in a federally approved car seat or booster seat.
Children ages 0 to 3 years must be in a crash-tested car seat of a separate carrier or the car manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
If travelling with a child aged 0 to 1 year, and weighing at least 20 pounds, use a rear-facing child seat in the back seat of your car.
For kids aged 12 months and weigh 20 pounds to five years and weigh 40 pounds, use a rear-facing child seat. This is until your child outgrows the height and weight recommendations of the seat.
If travelling with kids aged 5 years to 6 years and weighing 40 pounds or more, use a forward-facing car seat. Switch to a booster seat which you can set up in the back seat of the car.
If your child is 13 years and over, they can sit in the front or back seat of your vehicle.
The best child seat should fit your child and your car. Always use it properly before you drive. It’s important to read the car seat’s instructions manual and the vehicle’s owner manual on when and how to install a car seat.
Refer to the Florida Driver License Handbook for information on child car seats and seat belts.
My Child Needs a Car Seat by Florida Law, How Much Are These to Hire?
In Florida, the law states: “Every driver while transporting a child in a vehicle operated on the streets and highways of Florida shall, if the child is 5 years or younger, provide protection by using a crash-tested child seat.”
Any driver who violates this law will pay a fine of $60.
Rental companies in Florida have plenty of car seats for infants, toddlers and older kids. In Florida, car rental companies usually charge between $10 to $15 per day per seat inclusive of tax. These fees can add up quickly if you have more than one child.
Thankfully, car rental companies have a maximum charge per rental for each car seat. The maximum charge per car seat is $66. Car rental companies in Florida offer child car seats that conform to federal government standards. As such, you’ll ensure the safety of your kids during your visit.
What Type of Cars Are Available for Hire?
In Orlando, Florida, you can rent a compact 2/4 door sedan, compact SUV, convertible, full-size SUV, 7-seater minivan, and intermediate SUV. Car rental companies also hire out:
- 4X4 Jeep
- 8-seater minivans
- 12-seater minivans
- Pickup trucks
- Cargo vans
- Luxury sedans
Compact cars are the cheapest to hire from car rental companies in Orlando. This is because manoeuvring and navigating the city streets and traffic is simpler with compact cars.
Not only that. Numerous parking lots reserve spaces for compact cars only. As such, finding a spot to park will not be a challenge.
Due to COVID-19, the majority of car rental companies in Orlando updated their car rental health and safety policies. This includes making sure the cars are clean and disinfected.
What Should I Do If My Rental Car Breaks Down?
Getting a breakdown in a rental car can be a nightmare, especially while in a foreign country. However, the following tips can help you overcome this challenge.
The first thing you should do is pull over and then turn on your flasher/car indicators. Next, exit the car and try to determine the source of the issue, for example, a dead battery, empty gas tank or oil leak.
Once you find the source of the issue, call the car rental company and ask them what steps you should take. They can arrange for a tow or roadside assistance.
If the source of the issue is mechanical caused by everyday wear and tear on the car, the car rental company will reimburse you. For the company to reimburse you, save all the receipts.
If the issue is not your fault, the car rental company will swap you into another car for free..
How Long Does It Take to Drive From Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World?
The driving distance from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World is 16.8 miles to 19.7 miles. If taking the fastest route (16.8 miles) via FL-528, the journey will take approximately 23 minutes.
To reach Walt Disney World, get on FL-528 W, and 2.2 miles later, you’ll reach the first toll. Continue on FL-528 to S Apopka Vineland Road.
Then take exit 68 from I-4 W. Once you’re on S Apopka Vineland Road, drive to Hotel Plaza Blvd in Lake Buena Vista which is approximately 0.3 miles from the exit.
The longer route is 19.7 miles and takes 24 minutes. Get on FL-417 in Meadows Wood, then follow the highway to W Osceola Pkwy in Osceola County.
Take exit 3 from FL-417 and turn right onto W Osceola Pkwy. You should see signs for Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World is just 1.2 miles away.
How Long Does It Take to Drive From Sanford International to World Disney World?
For decades, people have been travelling in and out of Orlando International Airport to visit Walt Disney World.
Only in recent years have tourists started using Sanford International Airport. Sanford was previously a small regional airport, but today, national and international airlines fly in and out of the airport.
The distance between Sanford Airport and Walt Disney World is about 40 to 50 miles. The exact distance depends on where you want to visit first within the major attraction.
Regardless, you can make the drive from the airport to Walt Disney World in 40 to 45 minutes.
However, this is only off times such as early in the morning (before 5.30am) and in the evening (after 8.00pm). Typically, it can take you an hour to drive from the airport to Walt Disney World.
To reach Walt Disney World from the airport, follow the exit signs to FL-417 South, a toll road. Stay on the road for about 16 miles, then take exit 33 on FL-408.
This road will take you to Orlando. About 8 miles, take exit 10B and drive on I-4 West.
Stay on this road for 16 miles, then take exit 67. This will take you towards Disney Springs and Epcot. Now, you can follow the signs to your destination.
Which Rental Car Companies Are at Orlando International Airport?
The following rental car companies are at Orlando International Airport.
- Dollar Car Rental
- Hertz Car Rental
How Long Does It Take to Drive From Walt Disney World to Universal Studios Orlando?
Walt Disney World is about 10.2 to 10.3 miles away from Universal Studios Orlando. If you take the most direct route, it will take you 20 to 23 minutes depending on traffic. The fastest route is via I-4 E.
Get on I-4 E from E Buena Vista Drive, then follow I-4 E for 7.1 miles to Universal Blvd in Orlando. Take exit 75A from I-4 E and continue to Universal Studios for 0.8 miles. The whole journey will take 20 minutes.
You can also reach Universal Studios from Walt Disney World via S Apopka Vineland Rd. From Walt Disney World, drive to E Buena Vista Dr a distance of 0.3 miles.
From S Apopka Vineland Rd, drive to Orlando a distance of 9.5 miles. This will take about 22 minutes depending on traffic. Now, follow the signs to your destination.
Which Rental Car Companies Are at Sanford International Airport?
The following car hire companies are at Sanford International Airport.
If I Decide Not to Drive, What Are My Options?
Orlando, Florida has so much to offer, and as a tourist, you want to explore as much as the city offers. So, if you don’t want to incur the expense of renting a car, the following are options you can use to get around the city.
- Lynx Bus – this is the cheapest way to get around Orlando
- Uber – enjoy 20% lower fares
- Other taxis – Mears Transportation, Ace Metro, Town and Country Transportation
- Shuttle vans
- i-Ride Trolley – buses dressed up like tram cars
- Lymmo – free bus rapid transit
Since there is plenty to do in Orlando, there are several attractions within walking distance of your resort or hotel.
Driving in Orlando, Florida has its own set of rules which differ from those in the UK. For example, Florida is known for its heavy downpours. So, it’s important to take extra care when driving on the road.
If it’s extremely wet, pull over at the nearest stop until it’s safe to drive again. If taking your kids to Orlando, make sure you observe Florida car seat laws. Remember, always keep to the speed limit.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section we answer your questions on driving in the USA.
Can I use my UK driving licence in the USA?
Yes, you can use your UK driving licence to drive in the USA for short visits. However, some states may require an international driving permit in addition to your UK license.
Do I need to get car rental insurance when I rent a vehicle?
Yes, car rental insurance is strongly recommended. While most car hire companies include basic liability insurance, it’s often advisable to consider additional coverage like collision damage waiver.
What are the speed limits on US roads?
Speed limits vary based on the location and type of road. For instance, interstate highways might have maximum speed limits of 65-75 mph, while urban areas may limit speeds to 25-35 mph.
How do traffic lights work in the USA?
Traffic lights in the USA follow the sequence: red, green, and yellow. Remember, making a right turn on a red traffic light is permitted in many states after a complete stop, unless otherwise indicated.
Are there any specific rules regarding school buses?
Yes! When a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing, drivers in both the same direction and oncoming traffic must stop. This rule is strict and is for the safety of children boarding or disembarking the bus.
Do car rental firms offer roadside assistance?
Most car rental firms and rental car companies provide options for roadside assistance. It’s wise to inquire about this and other services like breakdown assistance when renting.
Are seat belts mandatory in the USA?
Absolutely! All passengers, whether in the front seat or passenger seat, must wear seat belts. Some states also have rules about car seats and booster seats for children.
How do I handle toll roads?
Toll roads are prevalent in many parts of the USA. Some car rental firms offer electronic toll payment devices, which make transiting these roads easier. It’s advisable to inquire about tolls and their payment methods.
Can I use my mobile phone while driving?
Using a mobile phone without a hands-free system is prohibited in many states. Always check local driving rules and prioritise safety.
Are there any driving rules specific to multi-lane highways?
On multi-lane highways, the general rule is “keep right unless overtaking.” Slower traffic should stick to the rightmost lanes, allowing faster vehicles to pass on the left.
I’ve heard about turning on a red light. Is that allowed?
In many states, you can turn right at a red light after a complete stop unless there’s a sign indicating otherwise. In some places, a left turn on red from a one-way street to another one-way street is also permitted.
Is my UK driving licence valid in the USA?
A standard UK licence is valid for most cars and light motor vehicles. However, for larger vehicles or specialised ones, you might need an appropriate endorsement or a different type of driver’s license.
What’s the minimum age to rent a car in the USA?
The minimum age to rent a car is generally 21. However, many car rental firms and hire companies charge an additional fee for drivers under 25.
How do petrol prices compare between the USA and the UK?
Petrol prices in the USA are typically lower than in the UK, but they vary by region and fluctuate based on global oil prices.
Are car seats mandatory for children in the USA?
Yes, children must be in an appropriate car seat or booster seat based on their age, weight, and height. The rules can vary by state, so it’s essential to check the specific requirements.