Matt Press is a car fanatic and the founder of The Drive Hive, a place where learners can book intensive driving courses.
Ask anyone living in England about driving standards and they’ll say it’s terrible. But doesn’t everyone think that about the country they live in? The reality is, road safety could be improved everywhere you go, so it’s important to be aware of the rules and regulations. If you’re travelling to England from abroad, let’s look at what English driving is like.
What are the rules?
Let’s start with what you are and aren’t allowed to do when you get behind the wheel in the UK. Firstly, don’t assume that you’re legally allowed to drive in England just because you hold a driving licence from your native country. If you have a valid licence in the European Economic Area (EEA) that’s fine but, for other non-GB licences, click here to check if you’re entitled to drive.
You’ll also need insurance of course, but assuming that’s in place, here are the basics…
In England we drive on the left and still use the imperial system for road signs (so miles per hour for speed limits and yards for restrictions. There are 3 types of roads in the UK: motorways (high-speed roads), primary roads and non-primary roads.
If you’re a tourist, you’ll probably want to visit London. Clearly using public transport would be your easiest option for getting around, but if you’re desperate to drive, the Congestion Charge must be paid if you’re aiming for the city centre.
Using a mobile phone whilst driving is illegal in the UK and although the blood alcohol limit is 80 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, it’s advisable not to drink anything if you’re driving. You (and any passengers) must also wear a seatbelt.
Road etiquette in the UK
With nearly 35 million vehicles around, British roads are very busy. It’s important to give way at appropriate times, avoid queue jumping and just generally have a sensible attitude. Pay attention to signage and if you are involved in an accident, you must stop.
Places to visit by car
There are some amazing sights to see in the UK. Head South to check out Dover and the famous white cliffs, hit the beaches in Bournemouth for some beautiful landscapes or take the A4 up to Windsor to see Windsor Castle – the official residence of the Queen. The M3 from London will take you past Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument that no one can explain. And if natural history is your thing, you might want to take the M40 and A40 to Oxford. There you’ll find the prestigious university, established in the 12th Century.
Wherever you head to, remember that driving in England can be challenging at first simply because of the number of cars on the road. But you’ll quickly adjust and if you adhere to all the rules of the road, you’ll be just fine.