Renting a car in the UK can seem daunting if you’ve never driven on the other side of the road. However, it doesn’t have to be a completely frightening or worrisome trip because of it. If you have spent any time driving at all, you can learn to adapt fairly easily to life in the left lane. Here are a few things you need to consider when renting a vehicle in the UK and learning to drive on the other side of the road.
Get the Proper Paperwork
Before packing your bags, make sure you’re prepared for UK driving with all the necessary forms for renting a car, driving in a foreign country, and insurance. If you’ll be driving in the UK for more than 12 months, you’ll probably need to think about getting an international driving permit. Travelers who come for shorter periods will only need a valid license from their home country. In most cases, traveler’s insurance might be all you need. If you will driving extensively, and need protection from any accidents that might arise, getting insurance there might be a good idea. A lawyer for the uninsured says it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Look Both Ways
This is important both as a pedestrian on the pavement, as well as a driver. After years of being accustomed to doing things one way, so that it is almost instinct, we don’t realize we need to look both ways now. The direction the cars are coming in is different, and many people new to the UK have near-misses because they don’t stay aware of their surroundings. Remember to stay vigilant while you are driving or interacting with the roads in any way. We tend to fall into habits and you’ll have to make sure to be paying attention at all times as you navigate this new world.
No Right Turn on Red
In many parts of the US, you can turn right at a red light because it doesn’t disrupt traffic much. This is not true of every part of the US, but it is frequent enough that people are accustomed to it. In the UK, you can only turn on green, and given the difference in traffic flow, a right turn on red would be a terrible thing indeed.
These are ubiquitous throughout the UK as a sort of stop-gap for traffic, and a way to eliminate the need for most traffic lights when you are traveling outside a city. It’s important to remember that you’ll need to enter and proceed through the roundabout in the opposite way you are accustomed to. This is one of the times where you must be vigilant and remember to stay aware of exits, entering cars, and the flow of traffic.
Know Your Signs
Some of the traffic signs in the UK can be confusing or bewildering for newcomers. Quiz yourself on some of the most common ones, and you should be okay. If you are confused at an intersection, either as a pedestrian or driver, follow the flow or take another route.
Driving in the United Kingdom is fairly straightforward. Don’t let your worries about driving in the UK keep you from experiencing everything the country has to offer. If you still feel uncomfortable with the task of driving, connect with a local tour guide and see if they can recommend bus or travel tours where you won’t be put in the driver’s seat.