Difference in Driving Laws From State to State

Feb 28, 19 by Jorian Goes

Difference in Driving Laws From State to State

Law differences between neighboring states

California may share borders with Arizona, Nevada and Oregon, but that does not mean the same rules apply. Laws are different in every state, being aware of the big differences in laws is important. Many drivers take road trips for work and for pleasure, so it is important to be aware of the laws that change when you cross state lines.

Let’s Carpool

HOV or carpool lanes are a great option for people traveling with others. If you are making a trip from one state to another you are likely to encounter these designated lanes and may even make use of them.

Each state has its own regulations for carpool lanes and who can use them. California’s HOV regulations are essentially as follows:

  • Vehicles must have 2 or more people or
  • Vehicle must be designated as a clear air vehicle with the proper clean air decal displayed on their vehicle
  • Motorcycles are also permitted to use the HOV lane

These rules are a little different in some areas such as San Francisco where 3 or more people must be in the vehicle to use certain preferential lanes. Sometimes these lanes are regulated differently during certain times of day. Keep an eye on the signage to know when you qualify to drive in the carpool lane, and ensure you are entering and exiting where permitted.

Arizona, Oregon and Nevada all generally follow the same rules as far as the number of passengers is concerned, so make sure you have two or more people in your car before entering the carpool lane. There are a few key differences to be aware of when carpooling across state lines:

You Used to Call Me on My Cell Phone

Beautiful scenery is a commonality between the four states we are looking at today. As a result, it can be tempting to take to our phones to share snippets of road trips with family and friends. It is important to resist the temptation.

Oregon, Nevada, and California all have set laws that prevent the use of hand-held cell phones while driving for the safety of the driver and everyone else on the road.

When traveling in California or other neighboring states, ensure Bluetooth or hands-free technology is enabled before making calls. Under 18? If you are in California or Oregon you are prohibited from any interaction with your phone while driving, even if you are using Bluetooth. Texting is banned for all drivers in these states.

Arizona is the outlier, as it has “no statewide legislation prevents drivers from using hand-held phones and texting while driving.” However, it does restrict novice drivers and those operating school busses from using phones while driving. Local laws also restrict phone use in certain cities.

Cell phone restrictions are becoming the norm, with 16 states imposing bans on handheld devices and 47 banning texting for all drivers. Due to the distractions they can cause while driving, it is best to leave them to the side while you’re behind the wheel.

What’s My Speed Again?

Speed can be the most difficult change to adjust to when transitioning between states, especially when speed limit signs can be few and far between on the interstate. In California, the maximum speed limit on highways is 65mph, but can go as high as 70mph if marked. For trucks, the maximum speed limit is 55mph.

While it is always best to carefully watch for posted speed limit signs, it is helpful to keep in mind that speed limits are generally on the lower end in California and Oregon, whose highway speed limits generally hover between the 65-70mph range. Arizona has highway speeds up to 75mph, while in Nevada you may encounter speed limits as high as 80mph.

Even though higher speed limits may seem like a thrill, it is important to exercise caution on unfamiliar roadways. It is acceptable to slow down if needed. Just remember to be safe by not obstructing traffic and move over for drivers moving at a higher rate of speed. On the flip side, officers know to look out for drivers traveling across state lines. Make sure to be aware that lowering your speed may be necessary to avoid winding up with a citation.

What about the fines?

The financial consequences for receiving a traffic citation are usually top of mind for most drivers. California has some of the highest traffic fines in the nation, so we provided a little chart to show you how the state stacks up against its neighbors.

HOV Lane

Cell Phone Use

Speeding

California

$489+

$162+

$237+

Arizona

$400+

N/A

$95+*

Nevada

$352+

$50+

$205+

Oregon

$260+

$130+

$80+


*Fines heavily vary by location

Regardless of where you get a ticket, it’s not a fun experience. Always brush up on the driving laws of different states before you travel to make sure you’re in the clear.