Guide to Driving In Scotland - Drive Safe in Scotland

Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Scotland?

Driving in Scotland

Scotland is a fabulous country for drivers - once you escape the congestion of the cities. Driving through the mountains and the glens requires good driving skills - especially in winter but will reward you with spectacular scenery, great places to visit and the chance to immerse yourself in history. 

Driving Laws

Seat Belt Laws

By law, everyone in a moving car in Scotland must be properly secured with a seatbelt. As with England, it is the responsibility of any adult in the car to ensure that they are buckled up. The driver is only responsible for minors.

Drinking and Driving

The drink driving laws in Scotland are different to England and changed in December 2014. You must have no more than 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood and there are regular police patrols throughout the year to catch motorists who break the law.

Must Have Documents

You only need to have your photocard driving licence with you if you are an EU driver. Other drivers must have a licence printed in the Roman alphabet otherwise an international driving permit is required.

Speed Limits

The speed limits for Scotland are as follows:
 
Open roads:                              95 km/h
In Town:                                    48 km/h  
Around schools and hospitals:  25 km/h
Motorways                               110 km/h

Minimum Driving Age

You have to be at least 17 to be able to drive in Scotland. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 23 but can be lower. Under 25 and you’re likely to have to pay a premium for your lack of experience and age.

Safety Camera Warning Devices

Safety camera warning devices are legal in Scotland but given the trickiness of some of the roads, we’d recommend that you simply stick to the limit for your safety and that of others.

On the Spot Fines

There are no on the spot fines as such in Scotland. You will be given a ticket detailing the offence, the fine and the way to pay it. For more serious offences you’ll be given a court summons.

Child Safety Rules

In Scotland, children under the age of 12 can travel in the front or rear of a vehicle as long as they have the appropriate restraint system. If they are sat in the front with a rear facing car seat, the air bag must be deactivated on their side.

Insurance

A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Scotland.

Rules of the Road

Standard European driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
 
Snow chains or winter tyres are recommended but not compulsory for winter driving
Winter daylight hours are low so it’s advisable to drive with dipped headlights between November and          January if conditions demand it

Towing Regulations

Make sure that anything being towed is securely attached and that you have good all round visibility. Hills are often steep so make sure your vehicle is powerful enough to tow vehicles such as heavy caravans.

Speed Cameras

There are many fixed speed cameras in Scotland and regular mobile speed traps. Many of Scotland’s roads aren’t conducive to speeding so you should always drive sensibly. Motorways, especially the M8, can get very busy.

Using Mobile Phones when driving

It’s illegal to talk or text on a mobile phone whilst driving unless you have a hands free kit.

Parking

Parking regulations
 
Free parking in the cities can be difficult to come by and paid for parking can be expensive. It’s often better to use the park and ride schemes to avoid congestion. 
 
Paid parking
 
There is plenty of paid parking in the smaller towns and villages. In the cities you’ll find limited time free parking on the street, metered parking, parking in parking lots and in garages including multi-storey car parks. Prices vary depending on how close you are to the centre or the sights but can be expensive.
 
Enforcement
 
Enforcement of parking is done by traffic wardens and sometimes the police and they are hot on illegal parking. You’ll receive a parking ticket and a fine. 
 
Disabled parking
 
Your disabled driver scheme blue badge will entitle you to the usual benefits in municipal car parks but check private ones for any restrictions.

Motor Way Signs

Motorway signs are blue with white writing

Phrases

Although some signs are written in Gaelic, there’ll always be an English version too

Traffic Lights

In Scotland traffic lights follow the same system as in England and much of Europe with a green to amber to red for stopping then red to red and amber then green for go. You cannot turn on a red light unless indicated otherwise.

Toll Roads

There are no toll roads in Scotland but the Tay and Forth Bridges have tolls for crossing them.

Emergency

The emergency number in Scotland is the UK standard 999 for all emergency services including the coastguard. 

What to do in an emergency

If you have a problem with your car you should phone the number given to on the rental documents or attached to the windscreen of your car. If you are driving your own vehicle, use your emergency assistance company.
 
In the event of an accident you must stop if there is serious damage or injury to humans or farm animals. You need to call the police if there is damage to cars or property or if there are any injuries, even if yours is the only car involved. You must exchange details with anyone else involved in the incident and it’s useful to take the details of witnesses if possible.

Fuel Costs

As of December 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Scotland is £1.19 whilst diesel is £1.21. Prices can vary between the cities and the smaller villages where prices can be significantly higher.
 

Comments

Alan Cowan
Firstly, well done for providing a separate section for Scotland instead of just including it with the UK. To assist accuracy in your article, there are no toll roads or bridges in Scotland. Tolls on both the Tay and Forth bridges have been removed. The only notable toll drivers may experience is when dropping off or picking up from some airports, but these are classed as private land.
5/13/2017 10:22:31 AM

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Hiring a Car

With our Drive Smart guide you're fully prepared to hire a car in Scotland and stay safe on unfamiliar roads.