Posts Tagged ‘uk driving’

December 23, 2013 10:00 am

Road Tripping in the UK – Driving Tips

The majority of tourists, foreign visitors and business people visiting the UK can find it a little confusing, even awkward to drive on the left-hand side of the road and follow some of the local road rules and driving customs. If you want to make your UK tourist trip or business visit safer and more enjoyable behind the wheel, here are some quintessential, easy to remember driving tips which should keep you and other drivers and pedestrians around you safe.

Driving Tips

Beware automatic car transmission fans:

First of all, consider your own driving skills – keep in mind that nearly ten out of ten cars in the UK are manuals (stick shifts) not automatics like in North America and Australia. So if you aren’t too good with the clutch, perhaps you should consider public transport as the better and safer alternative. The UK is well known for its super efficient, timely and comfortable public transport. If nevertheless, you decide to brave it out with the locals on the UK’s national roads, remember these pieces of advice, as they can make all the difference.

And now, the nitty-gritty:

– People drive on the left-hand side of the road in the UK. This means that when you go to cross the street you should turn to the right first and overcome your strong intuition to check for approaching cars on your right. If you see a car coming from the left, call it in – chances are it is another confused foreign driver.

– The second most important thing you need to remember as a foreigner driving in the UK is to always, and that means in every single instance, to drive on the left-hand side of the road. In the UK, left turn is the easier one, and right turn is the more complex manoeuvre – opposite to right-hand drive countries.

– Overtaking in the UK, or passing cars, as you may know it back home is done on the right side of slower vehicles, not like the US and the rest of the EU where one overtakes a slower vehicle on the left.

– If you will be driving a later model vehicle, check if you can adjust your headlights – right-hand drive cars and left-hand drive cars have different headlight alignment, so be considerate – don’t blind oncoming traffic.

– Remember to always watch out and give way to vehicles coming from your right. This shouldn’t be much of a problem as giving way to right standing vehicles is the basis of driving in most countries around the world.

– The UK happens to be one of the safest countries to drive in the EU so try and keep it that way – don’t speed as you have no excuse for doing so – speeds and limits are in miles per hour, just like in the US. Also, don’t drive under the influence, be a viligent driver and don’t get distracted while driving.

– Pedestrians in the UK like jaywalking, they are used to it, however you shouldn’t get used to it, either when walking or driving. Remember – letting a jaywalker pass in front of you can end up being a disaster as other vehicles may hit the person, even if you don’t. So take appropriate measures.

– UK and EU road rules don’t allow for beeping horns for no apparent reason – keep your horn signals for when avoiding immediate and inevitable danger.

– Be a polite and courteous driver, not because you are a newcomer, but because all people make mistakes, and not everyone has the same driving skills and experience. Tolerance goes both ways in this case, se keep it cool and don’t get agro – it’s not worth the wrinkles.

– Avoid driving in heavy traffic conditions during the first couple of days of your stay in the UK, get some practice in a quiet suburban area first if possible, and then hit the road.

Enjoy your road trip

Even if it goes without saying, try to make the most of your trip. Start your journey early in order to avoid the heavy traffic. Take some indispensable supplies like water and tasty treats, set your radio so that you can receive regular updates on the current road situation and thus easily avoid any jams or road accidents. And finally pick up the best road trip route the UK can offer you: whether you go for the Penrith to Haydon journey that would offer you some pretty fascinating views over old villages and remote bridges, or you choose a more relaxed trip over the Norfolk coast, make sure to take photos and enjoy your vacation to the fullest. And don’t forget to stay on the left side of the road!

David Drasnin is a freelance writer, who is constantly on the lookout for new challenges and adventures. Currently he is working for and is researching in details the car accident subject, looking into the current trends, regulations and preventive measures.