Driving Etiquette in the UK

If you are travelling to the UK – whether it is for business or pleasure – it can be a major adventure. To make the most of your time, rather than depending on public transport, either bringing your own car with you, or hiring a car for your stay, will make life much easier. However, whilst most UK drivers are considered to be polite and well-mannered, it helps if you are prepared in advance to understand the dos and don’ts of driving in the UK. For anyone living in the UK already, you will have covered everything you need to know when you took your driving lessons. It’s easy to understand why it’s so daunting for visitors, so PassSmart have created the perfect guide for any driving visitor.

If you come over with plenty of information in hand, you’ll find driving around the UK an easy and stress-free experience so here is some essential advice:

Left or Right?

Most importantly, you need to remember that in the UK, everyone drives on the left hand side of the road. Obviously, this affects every aspect of driving, from how you approach right hand turns, down to the car itself. You will find yourself sitting on the right hand side of the car, so be prepared to learn to use most of the hand controls with your left, instead of your right hand.

Driving and the Law

There are a few important laws that you will need to bear in mind at all times while driving, no matter what car you are in. Not counting the complicated rules surrounding speed limits, some of the most important involve what you do while you’re inside the car itself. First, while driving it’s illegal to use any form of mobile phone, unless you are using it with a hands-free kit or on speaker phone.

Secondly, both the driver and all passengers in the car must wear a seat belt at all times while the car is in motion. This has been part of British law for drivers since 1983, and passengers since 1991.

The final, and most important one is alcohol. While there is an acceptable amount of alcohol that you can drink and still be allowed for you to be in control of a car, it is generally recommended to avoid drinking completely if you are planning on driving.

As it will take too long to cover all of the driving laws here, the best thing to do is read the Highway Code which can be found on the UK Government’s website at https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/highway-code. This will cover all the laws regarding road use, and will also explain all of the signs currently in use on British roads.

Fast and Furious

When it comes to the speed limits in the UK, these are incredibly confusing as there are different limits depending on the type of road you are driving along, and even different limits along different stretches of the same road. While there may be some exceptions to these (as indicated by signs along particular stretches of roads), the general speed limits in use in the UK are 30 mph (approximately 48 kph) in towns and built up areas (although this is usually reduced to 20 mph near schools and some residential areas); 60 mph (97 kph) for unrestricted single lane roads (often the case for secluded country lanes) and finally, for motorways and dual carriageways, the speed limit is 70 mph (113 kph).

Foot Notes

One thing you need to bear in mind is that there are other people who will be making use of the road as well as yourself: pedestrians. All over the UK are various types of pedestrian crossings, clearly marked with striped black and white lines. While the law doesn’t demand that you have to stop if a pedestrian is waiting to cross (unless there are also traffic lights at that crossing), if the pedestrian has started to cross the road then you have to stop, giving the pedestrian the right of way.

Also, if any part of a road crosses over a public footpath or pavement – if you are leaving a car park for example – then the pedestrian always has the right of way and you should always stop for them.

Getting Stuck?

Finally, pay attention to road signs as they will give you vital information about the roads ahead, directions to key towns and cities, speed limits and road restrictions. Also, some roads follow a one-way system, or it can be easy to miss exits on motorways, so signs will be a life-saver. However, most people are only too happy to help any motorists who need directions, so if you do get lost at any point, all you have to do is ask any passer by and they’ll gladly point you in the right way.

This guest post was written on behalf of UK-based company, PassSmart.com – the quick and easy way to find your perfect driving instructor.

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