If you’re traveling to the United Kingdom from the States, and plan on driving a car there for the very first time, you’re bound to run into a lot of confusion. From the traffic laws to the way their roads are designed, everything will seem a bit off-putting. Thus, if you truly intend on driving there, you need to be aware of a few things. To keep things simple for now, here are 6 important things that you need to know about driving in the United Kingdom.
#1 Driving on the left side of the road
Perhaps the most difficult part of driving in the UK as an American is that you have to drive on the left side of the road. And to make matters more difficult, the steering wheel is located on the right side; it’s the complete opposite of what you do in the United States.
Although this sounds quite difficult, you can get the hang of it in a matter of days. You’ll just have to make sure that you don’t make a wrong move out of your habit of driving on the right side of the road.
#2 Dealing with the roundabouts
It’s not like the States doesn’t have any roundabouts. In fact, they have over 5000, and when you think about it, that’s quite a large number. However, it’s not nearly as close as the number of roundabouts in the UK, where there are over 25,000 of these junctions. That’s a staggering 5 times the number of that in the USA! So you can pretty much assume how much the Brits love these junctions, and how integral they’re to their traffic system.
When you come across a roundabout in the UK, you have to turn left and take a clockwise approach. Drive slowly and cautiously while going through a roundabout, and be sure to use your blinkers. If you end up missing your exit, just stay on the roundabout and figure it out.
Also, there are plenty of ‘double roundabouts in the UK. You might end up encountering a few of them during your commute, so you better do a bit of research on them as well.
#3 Maintaining speed limits
The British are very strict about their speed limits. They have a specific speed limit for almost every type of road. If you’re driving through a built-up area, like shops or houses, you’ll need to maintain a speed of around 30 mph. You can go up to 60 mph on a single carriageway (two-lane road) and up to 70 mph on a dual carriageway (four-lane road).
If you’re found guilty of violating the set limits, you’ll be penalized accordingly.
#4 Speed cameras are always watching you
If you’re thinking that the roundabouts in the UK are the most annoying things in existence, wait till you see how many speed cameras they have on the roads. Of course, it’s not like you can actually see them. The cameras are tucked away in places that drivers can’t notice, especially when they’re busy violating the speed limits. They have a camera almost every square mile. It’s as if the roads in Britain were built so that their government can catch you speeding.
As mentioned earlier, the cameras are usually hidden away in a corner of the road. So don’t try to cheat them, because you’re bound to get caught. In many cases, however, there are street signs that’ll warn you about the cameras. These are mostly on highways and multilane roads.
#5 Getting the right tires
Regular tires will get you through most of the streets in the UK. Just make sure to get the right tire size for your car. During winter, you can opt for winter tires, but it’s not mandatory. You can choose to drive with your regular tires during the winter as well.
A good thing about the UK is that you can get your tires changed quite easily, no matter where you are.
However, tires in the UK are spelled t-y-r-e-s. So, for instance, if you are in Middlesbrough and in need of a tire change, it’s best to search for “tyres in Middlesbrough” or look for signs on the road for “tyre repair shops. You can also call a car mechanic if your car ever breaks down in the middle of the road.
#6 Horn honking etiquettes
Don’t honk your horn at someone who’s driving slow because of the speed limit. There’s not much they can do about it. The only acceptable case for using your horn is when you need to warn the driver or pedestrian ahead of you about your presence.
Before setting out to drive, make sure you have your license or permit, as well as your passport. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with a whole new level of legal concerns.