Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

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Paul Sparks - Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for "Culture of English Speaking Countries Lessons" for Xiangtan Normal University...




American Transport

Source of Information:

Air Travel is the most practical and common method of covering the large distances between areas in the USA. It is the fastest, the most convenient and frequently the most economical means of transportation.

Trains are not as popular in the USA as they are in many other countries. They are an acceptable choice only for short or medium distance travel in certain areas. In many major cities, commuter trains provide good passenger service from suburban communities to the downtown metropolitan centers. In many parts of the US, train service may be infrequent or even non-existent.

Busses are an economical option. Bus transportation is a great option for urban or suburban transit, but bus service can be very limited in rural areas. The Greyhound Bus line offers inter-city and transcontinental bus service. It can be an inexpensive alternative to other forms of travel if you are willing to put up with the discomfort of long rides with minimum comforts. 

Cars are almost a necessity. In many parts of the USA where public transportation is inadequate or non-existent, a car is a practical necessity. In most large cities, the major shopping centers and sports or entertainment facilities are usually located in the suburban communities far from the metropolitan center. Without a vehicle, sightseeing, shopping and touring can be very inconvenient.

Hitchhiking is not permitted in most states. Hitchhiking is illegal in many states. You may occasionally see a person trying to "hitch a ride" along an interstate or at the entry to a toll road, but they are often risking a fine if apprehended by a police patrol. 

Bicycles are a good way to see the USA. But bicycles are not as common in the US as they are in many other countries, so car and truck drivers are not as accustomed to bicyclist on the roads. Bicycles are banned from the freeways and interstate highways, but are permitted on all other roads. Many cities and towns have off-road bicycle paths and trails. 

Car rental prices are very competitive in most states and no single agency has the best prices every time. Prices change frequently and every agency offers many special promotions and competitive priced deals. If you spend some time shopping for the best price, you can often save money. Here are some tips on how to find the best prices and how to save money. 

Each of the 50 states has its own set of traffic laws and regulations. Fortunately, most of the laws are the same, but some states have slightly different rules.

The speed limit in most states is now 65 miles per hour (about 110 km/hr) except where signs indicate slower speeds. Many drivers travel about 5 mph above the legal limit and the police do not seem to mind. Speed limits are strictly enforced by radar in many states (especially the eastern highly populated areas). In the western states, enforcement can be much more lax and motorists frequently travel at 85 mph or more. Speeding in any road construction area is strictly enforced with very heavy penalties in most states.

The minimum age for driving is 16 in most states but some states will not allow unrestricted driving until 18. Some car rental agencies refuse to rent a car to any person under 25 years of age. Some rental agencies in the US will not rent to drivers over 71 years of age. Nearly all states have laws requiring the driver and front passengers to wear seat belts. Many states require children to wear seat belts even in the back seats. Nearly every state requires special child restraint seats for all young children. Most states require motorcyclists to wear helmets.

The speed limit in front of every school is 15 mph when the warning lights are flashing. You are required to stop in both directions for any school bus with flashing lights. These rules are strictly enforced in every state and have severe penalties for disobedience. Drinking alcohol and driving is also forbidden and strictly enforced in all states. 

The American Automobile Association (AAA), commonly called the "triple A", provides some wonderful services to drivers. They have offices in every city and most of the larger towns in the US. If you are a member of a national motor club in your home country, you can receive many of their benefits free of charge by simply showing your membership card. The AAA provides free maps and tourist guides for any city or state in the US. 

The US highway system - The USA has an extensive system of interstate highways and state maintained roads. Some of the major highways are toll roads often called turnpikes, but most are free. All major interstate highways running north to south have odd numbers and are ordered from I-5 on the Pacific coast to I-95 along the Atlantic coast. All interstates running east to west are evenly numbered beginning with I-8 and I-10 near the Mexican border to I-94 near Canada. 

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