Driving while traveling abroad can be a great way to see more of the location than you ordinarily would, allowing you to explore off the beaten track. A lack of viable public transport options is one reason many people choose to rent a vehicle to get around in. As road rules and signage in the UK can vary considerably from what you are used to, making sure you are aware of the differences is very important.
You must drive on the left at all times. Failure to do so will not only get you in trouble with the police but will likely cause an accident. For travelers who are tired or jet-lagged, you may want to put a little reminder sticker on your steering wheel or better still, wait until you are more awake. In addition, you will have to become accustomed to giving way to the right, not the left. You may find that all of these habits that have become more or less automatic take some time to correct.
UK laws strictly prohibit overtaking on the inside lane, which is the far left, not the far right there. Drink driving is punished severely and any accidents that occur while you are intoxicated are judged to be your fault, even if other information suggests otherwise. Don’t think that you can get away with jumping red lights or speeding as the UK and especially London is well known for its extremely dense traffic camera coverage. These cameras run number plate recognition software that makes driving undetected nearly impossible. Unless you want a stiff fine to arrive in the mail when you get back from your trip, stick to the speed limits and traffic signals.
You should also bare in mind the fact that most of the car will be to your right, so take it easy when first reversing or turning corners as the new dimensions can take some getting used to. Be prepared to clip a curb or two as you adjust. Another thing to remember is that the gearshift will be on your right hand side, so driving a manual will take even more adaptation on your part. Your best bet may be to play it safe and rent an automatic.
The price of gas, petrol in the UK, can be three times as much in the UK, so plan your trips accordingly. Another thing to do is to try to get a grasp on UK car terminology such bonnet for hood, boot for trunk, gearstick for gearshift, motorway for highway and give way for yield.
Apart from busy city street drivers, who are as aggressive and unyielding as in any city in the world, UK drivers are courteous and not menacing at all. In fact, the UK is one of the safest places in Europe to drive and, if you follow the rules and prepare yourself for the differences, you should very much enjoy driving through and exploring the country.
Robert Lens lives and writes in London. He writes for www.carinsurance.org.uk where you can find more information on car insurance.