Safety and security

Crime

Take sensible precautions to protect yourself against petty crime.

Violent crime related to the drugs trade is a major issue in the Mexican states along the border with California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Avoid crossing the border into Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel. Though some foreign nationals have been among the victims in the border region, there is no evidence to suggest that they have been targeted because of their nationality. Be vigilant in all border areas and follow the advice of local authorities.

Violent crime, including gun crime, is not limited to the border areas. Incidents rarely involve tourists, but you should take care when travelling in unfamiliar areas. Research your destination before travelling and seek local advice about areas with high levels of criminal activity.

Road travel

In some States you can drive using a UK driving licence in other States you may need to get an International Driving Permit. Check with your rental car provider before you travel. If you have a photo-card licence you should also bring the green paper counterpart licence with you.

Learn US traffic laws before coming to the country. Both the speed and drink driving limits are lower than in the UK.

Most car rental companies offer electronic toll fee payment facilities which will allow you to automatically pay for your toll fees. These toll fee payment facilities must be hired for the duration of your rental and will allow you to use the electronic lanes on toll roads. Be sure to discuss with your rental car company their policy on toll fees.

Check the weather conditions before embarking on a long journey, particularly in mountainous and isolated areas where there is increased likelihood of snowfall, or in dry desert areas where you may need extra water and petrol stations could be scarce. Don’t sleep in your car by the roadside or in rest areas and avoid leaving any items on display in your car. Try to stay on main roads and use well-lit car parks. If you’re hit from behind while driving, indicate to the other driver to follow you to a public place and call 911 for the police.

In 2012 there were 33, 780 road deaths in the USA (Source: DfT). This equates to 10.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.

Air travel

Visit the US Federal Aviation Administration website for US airline information and travel tips.

Before you travel, check the security measures you are likely to face at the airport on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website.

Don’t make flippant remarks about bombs or terrorism, especially when passing through US airports.

The TSA has a helpline number to help passengers with disabilities and medical conditions before they fly.

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