We’re big fans of self-drive road trips when we travel, and we especially love road tripping around the UK since we are currently based there. In today’s post, we’re going to share everything we know from our years of experience driving in the UK to help you be as prepared as possible.
1. Age Limits
In the UK, the minimum legal age you can hold a driving license is 17. You are allowed to drive from 16, but only on a provisional license with a qualified driver in the passenger seat. As a visitor to the UK, if you are wanting to drive then you will need a full license, and you will need to be at least 17.
Do be aware that if you are looking to rent a car , that many car rental firms will require you to be over 21, and most charge extra fees if you are under 25. If you are 21 or under you might want to considering explore the UK using public transportation instead.
2. Measurement Systems
The UK primarily uses imperial units for driving related measurements. Major distances are always measured in miles, with shorter distances, such as the distance to a STOP sign, measured in yards. One yard is three feet, and there are 1760 yards in a mile. Speed limits are given in miles per hour, and vehicles display their speed in miles per hour.
Fuel uses the metric system and is bought in litres – despite fuel economy numbers for vehicles always being listed in miles per gallon! I know, it doesn’t make much sense. Still, that’s how it is.
3. Road Types in the UK
The UK has a number of road types, which are denoted by a lettering system. A road will have a letter to indicate it’s type, and then a number which is unique to that road. So for example, the M1 is a motorway. “M” denotes motorway, whereas 1 denotes the number. Generally the roads are as follows:
· “M” roads. An “M” is a motorway, which is the largest road in the UK, and also usually the fastest. An M road can be anything up to four lanes of traffic each way, although three lanes is more common. Sometimes “M” roads will just be two lanes in each direction. Motorways have speed limits of 70 miles per hour. Learner drivers and certain classes of vehicle, as well as pedestrians, are not permitted on motorways. Motorways do not have traffic lights or roundabouts – to join them you use the on and off slipways. Signs on motorways are always white lettering on a blue background.
· “A” roads. A roads are generally the main roads in the UK and for the most part have a speed limit of 60 miles per hour unless otherwise indicated. Some sections of “A” road will be dual carriageway, in which case the speed limits will be 70 miles per hour. For this to be the case, there must be a central dividing reservation between the two lanes. “A” roads can have traffic lights and roundabouts. Signs are generally a green background with yellow or white writing. Very rarely, in more remote parts of the UK, “A” roads can be single track.
· “B” roads. A “B” road is smaller road, usually used to link “A” roads. They can still carry a fair amount of traffic, however they tend not to be as long.
· “C”, “D” and other roads. These are smaller roads which might even be single-track roads. These tend to be minor roads, either in very rural areas, or which cover shorter distances in less rural areas.
4. Seat Belt Use in the UK
Everyone sitting in the vehicle must wear a seat belt, and there must be a seat belt provided for every passenger. For example, if a vehicle has three seat belts in the back seat, you would not be allowed to have four passengers on that seat.
It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that everyone is wearing a seat belt, and the law allows for significant fines for non-compliance.
5. Manual / Automatic Vehicles
If you’re visiting and driving in the UK from the USA, you might be surprised to learn that the majority of cars in the UK have a manual transmission, or “stick shift”. There are even two classes of driving license in the UK – one for automatic cars, and one for manual cars.
You cannot drive a manual car on an automatic driving license, although you can drive an automatic car on a manual license.
Since licenses from other parts of the world might not specify automatic or manual, it will be important particularly if you are hiring a car that you pick the transmission type that you are able to drive. If you don’t know how to drive a manual you should definitely not use the UK roads as your place to learn how to drive stick!
One thing to be aware of, if you can drive both types of car, is that automatic cars are nearly always slightly more expensive to rent than manual cars. So if you want to save a bit of money on your car rental and you can drive a manual, you might want to choose that.
The source: www.findingtheuniverse.com