26. April 2013 7 min read

Driving in Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales)

The summarized notes about Great Britain and car travels. Below I will describe my driving experience in how to drive your car over Great Britain. This are basic notes to European drivers on how to travel accross Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) with car. I have searched the web and did not find a complete guide on how to drive in Great Britain, so I have decided to publish my experience when I come home.

First and most important thing we all know is DRIVE ON LEFT side of the road. That means that most of left handed cars will have problems with right side blank spot (angle), so you will need a cooperative co-driver. Co-driver will mostly check for any cars on right side as well as help with passing on single carriage (single lane) roads in case you will want to pass someone. In England, Scotland and Wales there are many roundabouts. They can present a problem with blank spot so make sure you tripple check everything. English people are very immune, if they will notice you're on the wrong side of the road and they will politely show you to swap side (happened at crossroads in city, where I have thought I am in one-way street but I was not). To their defence they are also very polite drivers (they are very patient), but like in all countries some are in really hurry and others just try to force into you (this happened in city traffic). Most of them will let you swap lanes in last second and give you space in traffic jams. In majority all European left-hand drivers will be OK in Great Britain with a decent co-driver (or sleeping one with chair far behind). Do not forget that driving on left makes you take roundabouts to left, but mostly that is not a problem, if you put yourself in correct lane before roundabout it takes you to desired exit without major hassle. Oh, and to add: you do not need any additions to your European left-handed car to drive it in England, Scotland, Wales - in whole Great Britain.

Second thing you will notice is that everything is in miles. For simple calculation 1 mile = 1.5 km. That means just add half of what is on sign and you get your speed limit. Also keep in mind on what road you are on. Roads marked with "A" are just classical roads and speed limit there is 95 km/h (60 mph). I am telling you this because most of A roads are dual carriage (two lane) fast roads that are similar to Motorways without hard shoulder (additional lane for broken vehiles). Not all A roads have two lanes and some are really twisty. The A roads have a lot of parking areas so if you like to take panoramic photos this are the roads you should be using. Roads marked with "M" are motorways. This are mostly the three carriage (three lane) roads with speed limit of 110 km/h. The motorways are the most used roads by natives and you can be stuck in traffic congestions, especially during rush hours. Also be aware of speed cameras - they are everywhere. Almost every small town has at least one, they are in some nice spots on roads and motorways and they measure your speed in your back (they are pointed in the way you drive), with lines on road for distance.

Third speciallity of England, Scotland and Wales roads is that you have small lights in every road line. This is a very useful addition to roads as it makes the lanes clearly visible, it also tells you when you are crossing your of your lane and can help you keep your focus in case you are tired. I have seen this kind of lights in European tunnels and some newly built motorways around Europe, but here all A and M roads have it.

Fourth addition is a very, very detailed sight-seeing road signs. You do not need any book, map or anything as all brown signs on roads and motorways remind you of wonderful tourist attractions in nearby areas. They also lead you directly to the attraction and for whole time I used my map purely just to get roads from one city to another while I have never even looked at the location of major sightseeing points we have visited. It was really simple to get your bearings.

It is nice to mention that you do not have to pay any tolls, vignettes to drive around Great Britain roads. That excludes London M25 roundabout where you do not have to pay toll (more like eco-tax) except if you drive there between 10pm and 5am (local time). London city center is also closed to fuel cars (I did not confirm this).

Basically it was not that hard to drive in England, but I am puzzeled if you should have your lights on or off during the day. It seems like 80% of drivers have their lights off.

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