Driving In The United Kingdom

The UK has its own particular standards and practices on the road. Below you will find information that will help you be prepared when driving in the UK.


The UK, Malta and Cyprus are the only European countries that drive on the “wrong” (left) side of the road.

Although the general international rules of the road apply, just the opposite way around, a few differences are noticeable in the UK:

Roundabouts

Large and mini, are far more frequent than in many other countries and are often even built into quiet rural roads for no apparent reason other than to slow down the traffic. Drivers must slow down when approaching a roundabout and give way to traffic that is already going around it.

Speed

Speed is measured in miles per hour (mph) and the UK is the only place in Europe to do so. The speed limit on the motorway is a slow 70 mph and varies down to 30 mph in built-up areas. Drivers tend to abide with the speed restrictions due to hefty potential fines. Speed cameras are located just about everywhere, taking photos of your car/number plate if you are speeding and sending you a fine through the post or through your car rental agency. One small mercy is there are generally warning signs when you are in an area of speed cameras and you are well advised to comply with the limits.

Roads

Roads are very busy and, due to the fact that they are generally narrower than in many other countries and have an inordinate amount of roundabouts, so driving can be slower than you might imagine. “M” roads are motorways, “A” roads are single lane main roads and “B” roads are minor paved roads and are often very narrow, allowing only one lane of traffic.

Car parks

Car parks generally operate on a “pay & display” basis. You pay for a ticket from a machine in the car park, then display it on the dashboard of your car. Street parking is also possible, but you’ll need to be aware of the yellow lines painted next to the curb:

Double yellow lines

No parking at all, ever

Single yellow lines

Parking not generally allowed, but is permitted during certain hours, normally after 6pm. Check the sign for details.

Dashed yellow lines

Parking allowed but sometimes restricted and you may need to pay and display. Check the sign for details.

No lines

You can park for as long as you like, free of charge

Car Hire

Can be expensive in the UK and it pays to shop around for a good deal, often booking over the internet in advance for the lowest prices. It is advisable to avoid booking a rental car at your airport of arrival, especially London, as prices will be at their highest. Public transport to and from airports and within major cities is excellent and may avoid the need to hire a car while visiting.

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