Driving in Miami – Everything You Need to Know
Ah, Miami. The land of South Beach, mojitos, and endless sunshine.
If you’re planning a trip to Miami, you’re in for a real treat. This tropical metropolis is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and delicious food.
To get around and see all that Miami has to offer, you’re going to need a car. Driving in Miami, like most major cities, has its own customs and challenges.
With a little preparation and familiarity with common driving mistakes, you’ll be ready to cruise down the interstate in no time. Read on for everything you need to know about driving in Miami.
Know the Local Laws
There are a lot of state and federal driving laws we could list here. Here are the basics to get you started:
- Drive on the right-hand side of the road.
- Always have your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance handy.
- You can turn right at a red light (unless otherwise indicated).
- Watch out for lower speed areas such as school zones (15MPH) and residential districts (30MPH).
- All passengers must wear seatbelts, and all children under the age of five must use approved car seats.
- In heavy rain or fog, turn on your windshield wipers and headlights (not your hazard lights).
There are plenty of online resources available for further information about US driving laws.
Highways and Tollways
Driving in Miami will require using one or more of the highways that run through the city. Some of them are free to use, while others are toll roads that charge a fee.
The Palmetto Expressway (826) and Interstate 95 (I-95) are free highways. Note that I-95 ends just south of downtown and turns into US Highway 1 (also free).
The Florida Turnpike, Dolphin Expressway (836), and the Airport Expressway (State Road 112) are Miami’s toll roads.
As of a few years ago, it’s no longer possible to pay cash at the tolls. If you plan to use any of these highways, you’ll need to use an electronic SunPass. These devices attach to the windshield and communicate via radio frequency with each toll plaza you pass.
Be sure to ask your rental car company about their toll payment policies. If you do need to purchase a SunPass for your rental car, you can find them at many convenient locations.
I-95 Express Lanes
An important note about driving in Miami: While I-95 is free, paid express lanes are available to avoid heavy traffic.
To use I-95’s northbound express lanes, you’ll need a SunPass and you’ll need to meet the carpool restrictions. You can enter the express lanes from eastbound State Road 112 or from Northwest 10th Avenue.
Once you’re in the express lane, you cannot exit the highway for seven miles, until you pass 151st Street. It’s also illegal to stop in the lanes are weave between the plastic poles.
Dial 511 for Traffic Updates
What’s another way to avoid the worst of Miami’s traffic? Use the Florida Department of Transportation’s 511 system for live updates on road and traffic conditions.
You can call 511 from any phone, visit their website, or check out their Twitter feed. You can even create a profile with your preferred routes and language (English or Spanish).
Once you’re registered, you can create and save your preferred driving routes. 511 will send you updates via text or email about any delays or incidents along your selected routes.
Miami Parking Tips
Like most big cities, you should expect to pay to park in most areas of Miami. Prices vary depending on how long you park and which neighborhood you’re in.
In areas like downtown, Coconut Grove, and Brickell, you’ll find garages, public lots, and metered street parking. You can pay for parking with cash or a credit card, or you can download the Pay by Phone app.
In Miami Beach, South Beach, and surrounding areas, watch for signs that reserve street parking for residents only.
Parking is notoriously scarce in this part of Miami, especially during peak travel seasons. The ParkMe Miami Beach app is useful because it gives a live report of all available parking spaces.
Additional Things to Know About Driving in Miami
Every city brags about its crazy traffic and crazier drivers. With south Florida’s eclectic mix of cultures and customs, though, driving in Miami truly is in a league of its own.
Here are a few things to watch out for from the locals:
- Miami drivers are notorious for switching lanes without using their turn signals. It’s not uncommon for a car to swerve across several lanes of traffic with no warning.
- It’s acceptable to pass both on the left and the right. If you’re in the fast lane, don’t assume no one will pass you on the right.
- Locals will often speed up through yellow lights, not slow down. Don’t slam on your brakes if the light turns yellow, or you could be rear-ended.
- It’s common for three or four cars to sneak in a left turn through an intersection after the light has turned red.
- It’s not uncommon for cars to drive around honking their horns for no apparent reason. The driver may simply be celebrating a recent soccer victory or election results.
- Although pedestrians legally have the right-of-way, many Miami drivers will not yield to them.
- It’s against the law to text or talk on your cell phone while driving in Miami. However, you will almost certainly see locals doing it anyway.
- In many parts of Miami, Spanish is more widely spoken than English. If you do get into an accident or need some type of assistance, you may encounter a potential language barrier.
Planning a vacation in Miami involves more than hotel bookings and new sunglasses. To experience all that this unique city has to offer, you’ll need your own transportation.
At Florida Toyota Rental, we’re proud to offer a fleet of safe, attractive Toyota vehicles for rent. Whether you want to drive a hybrid, a pickup truck, or a family sedan, we have a vehicle to suit your needs.
Please visit our car rental page for more information or to make a booking. We look forward to hearing from you!