Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Wales?
Wales has beautiful scenery, great shopping and some picturesque and tranquil beaches.
If you're hiring a car to see the sights, you'll find the roads are quieter than across the border in England and are in good condition. Roads are slower in mid and north Wales as they wind through mountains.
Watch out for sheep in the road and for slow caravans.
Seat Belt Laws
In Wales, every occupant of the car must wear a seat belt when the vehicle is moving. As with England, it is the responsibility of the adults 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 Wales are the same as for England. You must have no more than 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood and there are plenty of police patrols throughout the year to catch motorists who break the law, especially at Christmas and the New Year.
Must Have Documents
You will need to have your photocard driving licence with you if you are an EU driver and don’t need the paper copy too. Other drivers must have a licence printed in the Roman alphabet otherwise an international driving permit is required.
The speed limits for Wales are as follows:
Around schools and hospitals: 25 km/h
In Town: 48 km/h
Open roads: 95 km/h
Motorways 110 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 17 to be able to drive in Wales. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 23 but can be lower. Under 25 and you will have to pay a premium for your lack of experience and age with most car hire companies. Ask us for details when you book.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are legal in Wales but given the trickiness of some roads and how busy others are, we recommend sticking carefully to the limits
On the Spot Fines
There are no on the spot fines in Wales in terms of paying them immediately. Instead 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 and can face suspension, a large fine and possibly prison.
Child Safety Rules
In Wales, 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 you must use a rear facing car seat with the air bag deactivated on their side.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Wales. It is an offence to drive without it.
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 in regions like Snowdonia or the Brecon Beacons
• You’ll often find wild animals on the roads in open countryside – take care and drive slowly, especially on bendy roads
Make sure that anything being towed is securely attached to your vehicle and that you have good all round visibility. Hills are often steep so make sure your vehicle is powerful enough to tow vehicles like heavy caravans.
There are many fixed speed cameras in Wales and regular mobile speed traps can spring up anywhere. Many of Wales’s roads aren’t conducive to speeding so you should always drive sensibly. The M4 motorway is the only one in Wales and, especially near the Severn Bridge it can be 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 and even then it’s not recommended.
Free parking in the cities can be difficult to find and paid for parking can be expensive. Try to use the park and ride schemes where available to avoid congestion and save time and money.
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 in cities like Cardiff, Newport and Swansea can be more expensive.
Enforcement of parking is done by traffic wardens and sometimes the police and they are very efficient. You’ll receive a parking ticket with a fine, can be clamped or towed away.
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 as in the rest of the UK.
Whilst many of the road signs are in Welsh, there'll always be an Engllish translation.
In Wales traffic lights follow the same system as in the rest of the UK 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, usually with an illuminated arrow.
There are no toll roads in Wales but the Severn and Anglesey Bridges have tolls for crossing them.
The emergency number in Wales 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 on the rental documents or attached to the inside of 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’ll need to call the police if this is so. You must exchange details with anyone else involved in the incident and it’s useful to take the details of witnesses if possible.
As of December 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Wales is £1.19 whilst diesel is £1.21. Prices can vary between the cities and more remote locations where prices can be significantly higher.