If you are visiting New York City, the only reason to rent a car is if you are leaving to go outside of the city limits for an extended road trip. If you plan to stay within the city limits, do yourself a favor and skip the car. Driving in New York City is a competitive sport and most people from out of town will find it a harrowing experience. Aside from that, parking in the city is extremely expensive. Public transportation, however, represents a great value and in New York is extensive and well run. Relying on our buses, subway, taxis and train system are by far the best choice for tourists and visitors to the city.
That said, if you would still like to rent a car, you'll find more information below.
To rent a car in the United States, you need a valid driver's license, a passport, and a major credit card. The minimum age is usually 25; however, some companies will rent to younger people if you purchase additional insurance.
Automobile Clubs and Associations
The American Automobile Association (AAA or "Triple A") is the major auto club in the United States, and if you are traveling around the states by car we urge you to visit their New York Club's AAA website. If you become a member, they will supply maps, suggest routes, guidebooks, accident insurance, and emergency road service. If you belong to an auto club in your home country, inquire whether they are affiliated with AAA before you leave (for example, the Canadian Automobile Association is an AAA reciprocal club).
Tips on gasoline (petrol)
Gasoline is abundant, easy to locate, and in general much cheaper here than in the rest of the world. Note that asking where the "Petrol" station is will not get you far. Petrol is known as gasoline in the United States, and most people will not know what you mean by petrol. So just ask for the gas station! Gas is sold by the gallon. One U.S. gallon equals 3.8 liters or .85 Imperial gallons.
Finally, if you're going to be driving in and out of the city a great deal, consider getting an E-Z Pass that will speed you through the tollbooths without stopping.
Turning right on red in New York City is always illegal, except where posted signs specifically allow it. Also try to make good use of the bridges linking Manhattan with the outside world rather than the expensive toll tunnels. And if you do have the car, try to visit out-of-the way tourist attractions, such as the Cloisters (pay as you wish), the New York Botanical Garden or Gateway National Recreation Area.
Finally, if you are unfortunate enough to have an accident, note that it is a crime to drive away from the scene before the police arrive. Insist on a written accident report from the police, and do note the officers' names, badge numbers, and police precinct address and telephone number for insurance purposes. Do not assume the police will file the report without your specifically insisting.
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