Overtaking on the left is illegal. Great Britain is the only set of countries in Europe which marks the speed limits in miles rather than kilometres. Give priority at roundabouts, which you will find to be much more frequent in Great Britain than other parts of the world, to the right.
Priority is marked at junctions. If a driver is giving way to you they will often flask their lights to signal that you can go ahead. Give way to any emergency services vehicles such as ambulances and police cars with flashing lights.
There are restricted hours when you are not allowed to drive in bus lanes, look out for signs. You are not allowed to use your horn between 11.30pm and 7am in built up areas. It is illegal to talk on your mobile while driving. At lights red means stop and red and amber means get ready to go but wait for green. Have a look at the pocket sized Highway Code book for more information. Most cars are manual, request an automatic if you want one.
You should stop and put on your hazard warning lights to warn other drivers. If the accident is serious phone the emergency services on 999. Make sure uninjured drivers move to safety, but do not move injured drivers. On motorways keep away from the hard shoulder and the central reservation if possible. There are orange emergency telephones located at short intervals on motorways if needed. Share insurance details with the affected drivers.
It is mandatory to for all passengers to wear seatbelts in the front seat and back seats. The driver can be prosecuted if a child under 14 is not wearing a seat belt or child restraint. 12-year-olds can use adult seat belts as long as they are 135 centimetres tall. Rear-facing baby seats should not be used in a seat which is protected by a front airbag unless the airbag has been deactivated. Not complying with seatbelt laws can be punished by a 30 pound fine which can go up to 500 pounds if there is a court case.
Motorways have the prefix M
, main arterial roads have the prefix A, and there are smaller B roads too. Brown and white signs mark tourist attractions, while tourist information is marked in blue.
Typical Fuel Costs in the UK (Jan 2012)
£1.30.9 Unleaded (95)
£1.38.9 Unleaded (95)
Petrol stations work on self service with card payments accepted. Supermarkets such as Sainsbury's and Tesco usually offer the cheapest fuel.
The alcohol limit is 0.03%. If you are convicted of driving or attempting to drive whilst above the legal limit, the maximum penalty is six months imprisonment plus a £5,000 fine and a driving ban for at least one year.
You need your passport and driving licence to hire a car.
You can have an EU community licence, a national driving licence or an international driving licence.
- Petrol – Gasoline
- Clampers – Your car could be clamped and towed if you park illegally.
- Hard Shoulder – Left hand lane of motorway only to be used for stopping in emergencies.
- Services – Motorway rest stops.
- Zebra crossings - Pedestrian crossings
- Excess – Deductible (insurance)
- Gearbox – Transmission
- Boot – Trunk
- Bonnet – Hood
- Bumper – Fender
- Detour – Diversion
- Indicators - Blinkers
There are some toll roads, notably on the M6 motorway and parts of Wales.
Congestion Zone Charge - An £8 daily charge to drive in central London between 7am-6pm during weekdays (does not apply on public holidays).
- 30 miles per hour in built up areas
- 60 miles per hour on single carriageways
- 70 miles per hour on dual carriageways and motorways.
Speed cameras are very frequent but there are signs to warn you of their presence.
The conversion from kilometres to miles per hour is one kilometre = 0.62 miles per hour. Therefore the speed limit on British motorways in kilometres is 112km.
The minimum driving age is 17. Most hire car companies require you to be over 25 years of age with some driving experience.
The emergency services are on 999. The British embassy is at King Charles Street
London, SW1A 2AH and can be called on switchboard number 020 7008 1500.
Parking tends to be expensive in England and very hard to find in London. Much of the parking is designated to local residents who hold permits. A fine and towing may be implemented to those who park in residents spaces. After 6pm on weekdays and on weekends it is sometimes possible to park in these spaces. Pay and display parking is available in many British towns and cities, prices for this vary.
Your best bet is to park in one of many car parks listed at www.ncp.co.uk. Double yellow lines mean no parking, double red lines mean no parking or stopping, single yellow lines mean you can’t park at certain times and single red lines mean you can’t park or stop at certain times. Dashed lines mean you can park except at restricted times – there should be a sign giving you details. If there are no lines you can park for as long as you want without having to pay any extra. To prevent congestion many cities offer a Park and Ride scheme where you can park your car on the outskirts and take a bus service into town.