Today is Thursday, June 13, 2013.
This will be the second time in my life that I have had a rental car. I'm a little nervous about driving in Florida, but I will just have to trust that my general driving experience will stand me in good stead. A quick check of the driving laws in Florida yielded the information that the minimum speed on the Interstate highway is 50, not 40 as in my home state. I can turn right on red, just like at home, even on a red arrow. The one thing that is truly different in Florida is that NO ONE has the "right of way" here. You are simply urged to avoid a crash. Splendid....
The other thing that's different in Florida is the toll roads. I guess I must seem spoiled, being used to driving on "free" roads. There is conflicting information about tolls - one site says to have quarters ready, but then says as of February 2011 all tolls will either be paid by "Sun Pass" or "Toll By Plate." I will have to ask the attendant at the rental car place. It may be that they will charge me for the tolls automatically on my credit card. Just one more thing to worry about. I did bring a bunch of quarters, just in case. :-)
I looked up the history of Hertz, as well. It was started back in 1918 in Chicago with a fleet of a dozen Model T's. John D. Hertz bought the company in 1923. Since then the company has been bought and sold a number of times, and has been associated with RCA, UAL Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and Volvo. It used to be the number one rental car company in the United States. In second place was Avis, which didn't get it's start until 1947. Remember their slogan: "We Try Harder"? They were the first company to have rental kiosks in airports. That decision would be a no-brainer now, but back in 1947 it might have been seen as a little risky.
It may be a surprise to many – it was, to me – that the largest car rental company in the United States is a latecomer to the rental car game: Enterprise, established in 1957. The company was named after the aircraft carrier, Enterprise, one of three American carriers to survive World War II, which fought in more battles than any other American ship, earning 20 battle stars.
According to consumer advocate Christopher Elliot, Hertz is by far the best car rental company in terms of service and prices. Elliot noted that the company has a "conservative approach" to damage claims, pursuing only those claims in which they are certain the damage was caused by a customer. Enterprise came in second, followed by Avis, National, Budget and Alamo.
These days, it's really nice to be able to reserve a rental car from home on the Internet. My rate was something like ten dollars a day, as opposed to over 20 dollars a day if you rent on site.
When I got to Florida, I noticed that my friend's car was equipped with a GPS system that had a huge screen. My friend here in Tampa is the second person to insist that I learn how to drive with a GPS. That might work if I start in a local area that I'm familiar with. Then I might get used to glancing at the GPS screen. But basically, I prefer to get my information from Google maps and actually look at satellite photos and ground photos of an area before I leave. I typed out turn-by-turn directions for myself that I printed out in large type, so I can glance at the directions quickly when I need to. This system has worked well for me in the past, and I will go with it, even if the rental car has GPS, which I will turn off if I can, since it's just one more distraction, and I believe in keeping my eyes firmly on the road. :-)