At the end of October, thousands of baying NFL fans from Minnesota and Cleveland descended on dear old Blighty to witness the Vikings present yet another hammering to the hapless Browns. The game might have taken a predictable turn, but a great time was had by all in the days leading up to and immediately following the match up, and many chose to spend a few days exploring the broader UK.
We have all heard the stories – they drive on the wrong side, the cars are tiny and the roads are tinier. All true, but let’s get beyond the stereotypes and provide some objective tips for driving in the UK.
First things first, let’s make sure you are legal. In the UK, cars need to have a current MOT certificate (an annual roadworthiness test), have road tax paid, which can be done online, and be insured. Without these three in place, you can’t drive the car on the road, and police cars are fitted with smart cameras that read license plates and will flag up to the officer if the car’s not legal.
If you are driving a rental car, all this will be taken care of, but if you are driving a friend’s car, it is worth double checking everything is in place, as if you’re behind the wheel, you’re responsible.
In the latter case, it is also worth checking the vehicle has breakdown cover, either as part of the insurance or separately. There are plenty of companies that provide this service, and it is easy to take out cover online. Take a look at feefo.com/reviews/rac for more details.
Left is right
Driving on the left is no big deal, you will soon get used to it. The toughest part is to remember that when turning right, you need to yield to oncoming traffic. The converse is also true – left turns are easier, as you are not crossing oncoming traffic, but remember that in the UK, you are not permitted to proceed on a red traffic light, even if there is nothing coming.
Ah, the land of roundabouts! Learn your roundabout theory before you begin, keep a clear head and you will be OK. The rules are actually very simple. Traffic goes round the roundabout in a clockwise direction, and vehicles already on the roundabout have priority. So wait for a gap to get on, and then you can keep going. The exception here is that some roundabouts have traffic lights, in which case it is actually even simpler.
There are lots of road signs in use in the UK. Many you will never encounter, but it is well worth having a quick look at this guide and perhaps downloading it so you have it to hand in case of confusion.
Not all roads in the UK are narrow and twisty. Motorways are similar to US freeways, with multiple lanes, and are the best way of covering large distances. Just remember that in the U