New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024
New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Jet Packs Cleared for Takeoff in Two States
The dream of personal jet packs is finally taking flight as two pioneering states have cleared the way for jet pack joyrides. California and Florida recently passed legislation allowing commercial jet pack operators to give tourists and thrill-seekers the ride of their lives.
While jet packs have been around for decades, they were previously restricted to trained professionals and limited to test flights over water. But now startups like JetPack Aviation and Gravity Industries are gearing up to offer short recreational flights out of small airports and tourist destinations.
For $249, you can experience five minutes of pure escapism as you soar up to 3,000 feet at speeds exceeding 60 mph. Jet pack pilots say beginners are welcome, and the intuitive controls make flying effortless. As one pilot put it, "You just lean where you want to go." The jet packs currently max out at about 10 minutes of flight time, but pilots expect capabilities to improve as battery technology evolves.
These rocket-powered backpacks promise a one-of-a-kind adventure that blends the freedom of skydiving with the steerable agility of a drone. Flying unencumbered through the air fulfills a deep human desire to defy gravity. As jet pack pioneer David Mayman said, "Imagine being able to fly using your body. It's the most empowering, liberating thing you can do."
But local residents have voiced concerns about noise pollution and privacy issues. And the inherent risks of jet pack accidents raise liability questions that regulators are grappling to address. Still, enthusiasts hope recreational jet packs represent the future of aviation.
Jet pack companies tout their green credentials, claiming their electric models are far more eco-friendly than combustion helicopters. They envision a world where jet packs reduce congestion by making personal aerial transport possible.
What else is in this post?
- New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Jet Packs Cleared for Takeoff in Two States
- New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Self-Driving RV Rentals Rev Up in the Midwest
- New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - West Coast Welcomes Recreational Drones
- New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - South Carolina Greenlights Flying Cars
- New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Northeast Relaxes Rules on Brewery Tours
- New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Deep South Allows Open Container on Party Buses
- New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Plains States Standardize Emotional Support Animal Rules
- New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Pacific Northwest Permits Public Camping on State Land
New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Self-Driving RV Rentals Rev Up in the Midwest
The endless horizons of the American heartland beckon road trippers this summer thanks to a new fleet of self-driving RVs. Major rental companies like Cruise America, El Monte RV and RVshare have announced plans to unleash thousands of autonomous RVs across Midwestern states in 2024.
This technology promises to transform road trips by freeing travelers from the tedium of driving. Instead of staring at the road, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery rolling by. Some models even allow you to rotate the driver's seat to face the living area. Of course, a licensed operator still needs to be present to monitor the system, but they are free to cook, nap or plan the day's adventure while the RV navigates to the next destination.
Early adopters rave about the experience. Mark S. from Iowa said, "I never thought I'd be comfortable letting a machine drive, but this RV made it so easy. I could make sandwiches and play cards with the kids as we drove through South Dakota. It was a dream come true."
And for those nervous about autonomous vehicles, RV rental companies emphasize the extensive testing and triple redundancy of the self-driving systems. Backup drivers, 5G connectivity and remote telemetry give technicians full visibility into every trip.
But officials caution that current laws still require human control. Drivers must keep their hands on the wheel and supervision is mandatory. However, pressure is mounting to relax restrictions as self-driving technology proves itself. Rental companies claim automation can reduce accidents caused by drowsy or distracted drivers.
New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - West Coast Welcomes Recreational Drones
The wide open skies of the West Coast are opening up to recreational drone pilots thanks to loosened restrictions across California, Oregon and Washington. These three states recently passed legislation allowing hobbyists to fly drones just for fun without burdensome regulations.
While the Federal Aviation Administration still mandates registration of drones weighing over 0.55 pounds, new state laws override local ordinances that banned or severely limited recreational flights. Cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco can no longer prohibit drones in parks and other public areas.
For drone enthusiasts, this represents a new era of freedom. Chase D., a hobbyist from Sacramento, told us, "I've had to keep my drone flights very low key until now. Finding an isolated spot where I wouldn't get hassled was nearly impossible near a big city. But now I can fly in most parks without constantly looking over my shoulder."
Recreational pilots are taking full advantage. Beaches, forests and deserts echo with the buzz of drones filming surfers, racing along cliffsides, and capturing eagles in flight. Daredevils fly drones through abandoned buildings and underground tunnels. Photographers use them to get a bird's eye view of redwood groves and city skylines. The creative possibilities are limitless when unencumbered by tight restrictions.
However, critics argue loosening state drone laws strips cities of local control. Residents in dense urban areas worry about collisions, noise, and loss of privacy as drone activity soars. While drone technology has advanced, safety concerns remain very real.
"One of these things crashing onto a busy sidewalk could kill someone," noted Mary T. of San Francisco. "I wish the state had let cities decide what's reasonable for their own environment instead of mandating a one-size-fits-all approach."
Still, experts believe a patchwork of municipal ordinances is unworkable. Drone firms have lobbied hard for statewide framework they argue is needed for recreational drone use to evolve responsibly. And with prices falling rapidly, drones are poised to explode in popularity whether cities welcome them or not.
New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - South Carolina Greenlights Flying Cars
Buckle up, South Carolina – The Palmetto State is paving the way for flying cars to take to the highways in the skies following new legislation greenlighting personal air taxis. Governor Henry McMaster signed a bill this month authorizing the commercial operation of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, more commonly known as "flying cars."
South Carolina joins a vanguard of states embracing this emerging transportation mode. But while others have taken a more tentative, wait-and-see approach, South Carolina is aggressively rolling out the red carpet for flying cars. Officials hope attracting flying taxi startups will cement South Carolina as an aviation and technology hub.
"South Carolina has a long, storied history in aerospace," said Rep. Kirkman Finlay III, who sponsored the legislation. "Allowing flying car networks will continue that legacy by spurring innovation and investment in our state."
Companies like Wisk Aero, Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation are now clear for liftoff. These futuristic aircraft use electric motors and tilting rotors to silently hover and cruise through the air like a plane and helicopter hybrid. Some models carry just a pilot and passenger while larger variants can transport four or five people.
Proponents enthuse flying cars can transform mobility while easing road congestion. Aerial routes would leapfrog traffic jams and shrink cross-state trips to under an hour. "Picture whisking from downtown Columbia to the coast in 30 minutes without ever touching the ground," said Finlay. "This technology will redefine transportation."
Early adopters are thrilled. "I'd heard promises of flying cars for years, but always figured it was decades away," said Catherine R. who preordered an Archer eVTOL. "Now I may actually get my flying car next year!"
Yet key questions remain unanswered. Concerns persist around weather issues, collision risks, noise and affordability. While costs are forecast to drop over time, initially expect to pay around $3 to $4 per passenger mile – far pricier than driving.
New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Northeast Relaxes Rules on Brewery Tours
Sip your way through New England as states like Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine relax brewery tour rules just in time for summer. Swirling amber lagers, hazy IPAs and tart sours tempt travelers eager to sample award-winning craft beer straight from the source.
New laws triple limits on how much breweries can serve visitors, with some states nixing caps altogether. Out-of-state tourists used to get shortchanged, limited to just ounce-sized samples. But updated regulations entitle everyone to equal pours. Now you can linger and truly savor the flavor profiles through multiple rounds.
"It was absurd how little I could actually try during New England brewery tours under outdated laws," recalled Melanie S. of Philadelphia. "Just when I'd start appreciating the notes of malt, hops and yeast in a beer, my flight would be empty. But now I can order a real glass – sometimes even a flight of four 5-ounce pours – and immerse myself in these amazing creations."
Another game-changer is "drink and depart" rules that used to force visitors to finish their beers on-site. Now patrons can bring brews to-go, ideal for picnics, hiking trails and beach trips. Some places even sell crowlers and growlers to transport draft brews. Plus food trucks onsite, live music and yard games enhance the experience.
Relaxed rules also enable facilities to morph into vibrant hangouts. Tasting rooms buzz with the chatter of friends reconnecting over local IPAs and lagers on tap. Outdoor beer gardens beckon you to linger with corn hole, Jenga and funky furniture. Special events like trivia nights, live comedy and paint classes make it easy to while away an afternoon or evening.
"It used to be you'd sample a few beers standing at the bar and that was it," explained Ben W., founder of Confected Brew Works in Vermont. "Now our taproom is a true destination. We've got brewery tours, artisan vendors, food pop-ups and lawn games. People stick around for hours."
But it's not all fun and games. Public safety remains a priority amid more liberal brewery rules. States mandate staff training to recognize intoxication and responsibly intervene. Ride share partnerships provide sober transportation options. And limits on total ounces served still apply.
New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Deep South Allows Open Container on Party Buses
Sip your favorite libation in motion as a flurry of Southern states legalize open containers on chartered party buses. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia recently passed legislation permitting alcohol consumption on buses rented for special events like bachelor parties, wine tours and game day transportation.
Previously, imbibing on most commercial vehicles was strictly prohibited, even on private excursions. But updated statutes create an exemption for chartered party buses equipped with safety features like professional chauffeurs. Now revelers can kick back and get their drink on while a designated driver navigates to the next destination.
"It completely changes the dynamic when you can relax with a cold one in hand versus sneaking shots in the back like we did in college," said Jackson T. who recently rented a party bus for a New Orleans bachelor party. "Having a built-in bar on board with beer on tap brought everything to the next level."
Beyond beer and wine, customized options include margarita machines, bottled cocktails on ice and top-shelf spirits for crafting specialty drinks. Plus entertainment like sound systems, neon lights and stripper poles help ensure your crew arrives in style.
Proponents argue legalizing open containers increases safety by giving partygoers a safe, controlled environment to drink responsibly on the way to their next stop. It also eliminates the risky behavior of pounding last call drinks before boarding restrictive buses.
"This takes the guesswork out of how and when to consume alcohol," said Louisiana Senator Patrick Page Cortez who introduced the legislation. "With a licensed chauffeur, passengers can celebrate responsibly en route."
Yet critics worry open container buses enable binge drinking and could lead to alcohol-related incidents. MADD argues any legislation loosening restrictions sends the wrong message and risks normalizing alcohol consumption in vehicles.
There are also calls to limit open containers to beer and wine only, or cap total drinks allowed per passenger. "Does a roving club on wheels with shots flowing really make roads safer?" challenged New Orleans Councilman Jared C. Brossett. "We need guardrails to prevent these from becoming rolling frat parties."
But the party bus industry contends existing regulations ensure passenger safety, noting drivers undergo extensive training on recognizing intoxication and handling impaired riders. They point out patrons must still abide by all standard public intoxication laws.
"With COVID subsiding, folks are eager to celebrate and our phones are ringing off the hook," said Ben T., owner of Party Bus South LLC. in Atlanta. "This law change enables us to take events to the next level, but we always prioritize safety through driver training and onboard security."
Indeed, demand has surged for open container party buses as young professionals seek unique "experiences" to reconnect post-pandemic. Well-heeled revelers aren't just bar-hopping, they're "party-bus-hopping" between curated activities. Savvy operators craft custom tours like a progressive dinner at hot new restaurants, axe throwing, escape rooms, karaoke and more.
New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Plains States Standardize Emotional Support Animal Rules
The open roads and big skies of America's heartland beckon road trippers craving wide open spaces and close encounters with nature. But for travelers who rely on emotional support animals (ESAs), confusing patches of state laws created obstacles to bringing their companion pets on vacation.
That is changing as a coalition of Midwest states moves to standardize ESA policies. Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and the Dakotas have agreed to reciprocity for ESA documentation like doctor letters verifying the owner's need. Now approval in one state extends ESA access rights across all five.
"When I'd visit my sister in Kansas, I couldn't bring my ESA cat Biscuit into her 'no pets' apartment even with my letter. But back home he legally lived with me. It made no sense. Now we can travel freely without stressing over complicated red tape."
Uniform standards also prohibit burdensome fees on ESAs that priced some travelers out of lodging and attractions. No longer can hotels charge pet deposits or admission fees for trained support animals.
Mason R., an Army veteran with PTSD from South Dakota, told us, "Some places wanted hundreds in pet fees for my ESA dog who helps ground me during flashbacks. Standardized rules now stop that discrimination statewide."
"Until the entire country gets on the same page, navigating ESA rules remains frustrating," said Rebecca H., founder of pawK9s for Vets. Her nonprofit trains support dogs for veterans and others with disabilities.
As ESA certifications explode across America, regulators continue balancing accessibility with concerns of abuse. Clear standards that maintain equal treatment for all travelers with legitimate needs are essential for the system's integrity.
Responsible ESA owners welcome fair reforms. They understand that poorly behaved pets posing as ESAs give legitimate service animals a bad name. Reasonable rules weed out pretenders without punishing those who genuinely depend on their companions.
"My ESA cat truly soothes my anxiety in ways medication can't," explained Angie. "But I agree some people try to game the system, which hurts those of us with real documentation. That's why consistent standards make so much sense."
New Rules of the Road: 10 State Laws Changing Travel in the U.S. in 2024 - Pacific Northwest Permits Public Camping on State Land
The great outdoors just got a bit more accessible for nature lovers as Washington, Oregon, and Idaho move to permit public camping on state-owned lands. These Pacific Northwest states are lifting restrictions that previously banned camping on parcels not designated as parks or recreational areas.
Outdoorsy types rejoice at the prospect of more secluded spots to pitch a tent under the stars. "I love getting off the beaten path away from crowded campgrounds filled with RVs," said Danielle P., an avid backpacker from Seattle. She enjoys trekking deep into remote corners of public forests. "But so much state land was off limits before, it really restricted where I could go."
Now hikers and cyclists journeying for multiple days through forests and mountains can simply unfurl their sleeping bags under the stars instead of detouring solely to designated sites. Kayakers paddling Washington's coastline or Idaho's rivers can make impromptu camps along the shores. Foraging enthusiasts also laud the change, no longer forced to cut excursions short to avoid illegal camping citations.
"I'll hike all day gathering wild mushrooms, berries and herbs," explained forager Tom S. of Portland. "But with limited dispersed camping allowed previously, I'd often have to discard part of my harvest because I couldn't stash it overnight."
Surprisingly, many urbanites also stand to benefit. State land peppered near cities offers a quick escape without venturing far. "I love that on short notice, my friends and I can grab supplies and bikes, then ride out of Seattle to camp 10 miles away on newly opened state parcels," said Lily R.
Officials stipulate commonsense rules, like practicing Leave No Trace ethics, respecting wildlife, and avoiding environmentally sensitive areas. Permits will be required for larger groups. And banned activities like campfires, fireworks and firearms remain prohibited to prevent wildfires and irresponsible behavior.
But some locals worry lifting restrictions across millions of acres of state land invites problems. They fear overflowing trash, habitat disruption and dangerous partying could result without enough rangers to police vast areas.
"I get that most campers are responsible, but it only takes a few bad apples to cause damage," contends Tom J., who leads a local wilderness protection group. His organization pushed to initially restrict camping access decades ago after rampant abuses.
State agencies vow to closely monitor impacts, promising to restrict camping again if problems emerge. For now, they welcome the chance to let residents connect with nature, gaining new stewards to help care for public lands through positive early experiences.