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Driving in England

We're from the US and plan to spend a week in England this fall. How difficult is it to get used to driving on the left side of the road?
Thanks.

Thank you all for your helpful remarks!

Posted by
250 posts

We just got back from a week driving in Yorkshire. My husband found it pretty easy. We rented an automatic, which can be tricky to find. But he insists he’ll get a manual next time. Roads were well marked and roundabouts were way easier than I thought they might be. The trickiest part wasn’t driving on the left per se, it was dealing with narrow country roads. But some of that can be minimized by route planning. You do need to be prepared to back up on occasion to deal with a narrow turn or one lane bridge, but none of those skills have anything to do with driving on the left.

Posted by
2449 posts

I suggest you go on Google Maps and find some of the places you are thinking of visiting. Then, zoom down & go on streetview and look at the different types of roads such as Motorways (like Interstates), A roads (main roads from police to place), ‘B’ roads and finally country lanes and roads in cities & towns.

Look at roundabouts and visualise going around them clockwise. Note the amount of traffic that you see on the different roads by moving forward for a bit.

Posted by
76 posts

It depends on the individual. I'm from England and have driven in the US. I did a lot of preparation on Google maps and memorised the geography of the area that I was visiting so that if a I saw a sign for a particular direction or town, I could relate it to my destination.
If I missed my turning I didn't try to cut across, I simply carried on until the next turning where I could double back. I had the memo "keep right" on a post it note on the dashboard. Slow and deliberate is the way to drive in a foreign country.
Each day, I would plan my journey out on a piece of paper with landmarks. It helps massively if your passenger is a good navigator to watch out for signs, and to read off your plan.
You will see a lot of roundabouts which can be scary if you have to change lane part way round, and it's important to get in the correct lane on approach. Use your indicators to let other drivers where you are going.
I think you would find the signage better than the US, although there may be too many in one place to read.
Drivers are generally more courteous in the UK. If you indicate, and don't force your way, many drivers will let you in. We do a lot of flashing to other drivers to let them out of side roads, or to turn in front of you, it's an unofficial way of doing things, but everyone does it. When I tried that in the US, the other drivers just stayed where they were looking blankly at me.
Allow plenty of room in front and concentrate on that 50 yards.
Of course now, we have Satnavs which make things easier for you. Most cars here have manual gearboxes and clutches although automatics are available and electric, but you will have to specify if you want one and you will probably pay more for it.

Posted by
5042 posts

There is, without doubt, a learning curve. How steep that curve is can vary from person to person. Adding in a manual transmission just steepens that curve. Unless you are ambidextrous, easily shifting with your left hand takes some getting used to. Agencies at airports will be more likely to have a good supply of automatics.

It shouldn't take long to get used to the slow lane being the lane on the left, and having vehicles passing on your right. Or going clockwise around traffic circles. But for some unknown reason, even after many weeks (accumulated over various trips), DH still has a tendency to pull to the right when approaching the exit from a parking lot onto a street. I usually have to remind him to stay left on those occasions.

Having a good navigator beside you to read traffic signs or to follow route directions, as mentioned above is priceless.

Posted by
242 posts

I have driven on several visits to Scotland, England and Wales on everything from motorways to narrow country lanes. The number one priority is to have a good navigator as your passenger who can watch for signs and remind you to “keep left”. Electronic navigation on your car or smart phone is also helpful, but the most important thing is your passenger. I have always rented the smallest car that holds our luggage, especially helpful when you encounter a tour bus on a narrow street. You will pay more for automatic transmission, but it helps you focus on the road rather than changing gears with left hand. Also, be aware that parking lots are not plentiful, rarely free and sometimes require a walk or bus ride to your urban destination. Good luck.

Posted by
5644 posts

Where are you planning to spend that week? There are some places where a car makes sense and other places where you are much better off using public transportation.

Posted by
6832 posts

I just finished a 5 1/2 week trip to England in March and April and drove a rental car by myself for most of that time. Driving on the left is easy. After 5 minutes, you'll be thinking like a native. It's the roundabouts and the single-track roads that make it a bit difficult. And also the location you are driving makes a big difference.

For example, I drove for 3 weeks last year in Scotland and I can safely say that Cornwall was the most difficult place for me to drive, as their single-track roads are bordered by very high hedges that cover stone walls. I'm not a novice at driving in the UK but it was tough there, and I don't know if I would want that experience again. The Peak District was easier although there were some single track roads that were a bit nerve wracking. Yorkshire and Northumberland were relatively easy overall.

No matter where you go in rural areas, though, you will run into single track roads. The key is to know the etiquette involved (and there is an etiquette), drive slowly enough so you don't run into any surprises, but also be kind to local drivers behind you and let them pass from time to time. There are almost always passing places on a regular basis while driving on ST roads.

I also found it helpful to plot out my route the night before, as much as I could. Sometimes by doing that, I was able to avoid the single-track roads and stick to the main roads without it taking a lot more time. For example, when I stayed in North Yorkshire, the drive to get to the cottage I was staying at was a bit scary for me as there were a few drop offs on the narrow single-track roads, and they were very winding. But by looking at Google maps on my laptop, I figured out a route that was much easier and only took 3 minutes longer.

ETA: One more thing. Yes, the roundabouts (the multi-laned ones) can be a bit harrowing if you are not sure where you're going. So first, remember that if you're not sure where to get off, just stay in the roundabout and keep circling. That's the beauty of roundabouts, and I did it on more than one occasion. Second, if you have CarPlay, keep an eye on your car on the screen as you enter the roundabout. That way you can tell if the digital car (and therefore the real car) is following the correct route. It really helps.

Posted by
805 posts

It seems quite a common misconception amongst non-roundabout users from NA that circling around multiple times is normal. It can be a bit risky. If people have already seen you on the roundabout, often they wouldn't expect you to be going around again and may come out in front of you. Circling around a roundabout is a last resort if you're really lost, especially if you have to cut across multiple lanes to get back in the lane you need to be in. Sometimes it's better to take the wrong exit and double back to the roundabout.

No offence to Mardee of course, I commend you on your UK driving enthusiasm :)

Posted by
6832 posts

Gerry, ha ha!!! Well, I honestly did not do it that often, but I still swear by the process. And if a car gets a bit ahead of himself because he is anticipating a move from me, that's on him, imo. :-) I would imagine that the law in the UK is the same as the US in that cars in the roundabout circle have the right of way (within reason, I'm sure). I doubt if someone who was circling for 5 minutes or more would be allowed too much leeway there.

That said, I did not cut across multiple lanes, though (that would have scared me to death!), and there were times I exited at the wrong exit and had to wait for Google Maps to get me back on track, which is a good option at times. But I will say by the end of my stay, I was rocking those roundabouts!

Posted by
85 posts

I drove for a week in Devon and Cornwall and by the end of it I felt like a pro at handling the tight roads and dealing with the pull-outs and backing up. I drive a manual at home so renting one there wasn’t a big deal.
The drivers in England are generally much more attentive and alert than the distracted, lazy drivers back home in US/Canada, so most small screwups you might make they will correct for,

The most frustrating part for me was getting used to judging the distance between my left or passenger side tires and the curb when I was on very narrow country roads as well as in towns . I was constantly scuffing the tire/rim, because of course back home in US/Canada we are used to sitting on the other side of the car and the curb side is opposite. And of course our roads are wider.

Sometimes when I was in remote areas with no other cars around I absentmindedly found myself driving on the wrong side of the road, but when another car approached I of course quickly woke up and got back on my side. I’m sure they are used to seeing that.

Posted by
6832 posts

The drivers in England are generally much more attentive and alert than the distracted, lazy drivers back home in US/Canada, so most small screwups you might make they will correct for.

That is most definitely true.

Posted by
805 posts

Haha... I think Rick mentions it as a strategy in one of his videos and it always makes me think of National Lampoon's European Vacation :)

I definitely don't speak for the habits of other road users or as an authority on the Highway Code, but its something I'd try to avoid doing. It's a maneuver where it's easy to have a low speed bump or sideswipe someone changing lanes. Sometimes it's a bit safer to commit to the wrong exit, especially if you're filtering on a big roundabout at rush hour.

Posted by
4241 posts

Driving on the left wasn't much of a challenge; especially on freeways and urban areas where you're following traffic. As some others have mentioned, the most challenging things for me were the narrower lanes and curvier roads in rural areas compared to what I'm used to at home.

Posted by
805 posts

Sometimes when I was in remote areas with no other cars around I absentmindedly found myself driving on the wrong side of the road, but when another car approached I of course quickly woke up and got back on my side. I’m sure they are used to seeing that.

Haha noooo... Please don't do that. People aren't used to seeing that, no. First rule of the road is keep left.

Posted by
85 posts

Hi Gerry: I guess I was assuming people from the continent drive their own cars to England for holidays and then often wind up accidentally driving on the wrong side, so Brits would be used to seeing that. But maybe not? Just an assumption.

Posted by
805 posts

No if you're on a road where two cars can pass, you need to keep left. It can be really serious and scary if you don't. If you're on a single track road you keep your position centre and use passing places as needed.

Posted by
85 posts

Hi Gerry, In my case the situations were on a remote paved road with a long stretch between us where we would see each other a long way away, and after I got back in my lane there was still about 10 seconds before we met, so hopefully I didn’t frighten the other driver too much. of course if there are other cars around it never would’ve happened because then I would’ve had in my conscious mind to stay on the left.

Posted by
805 posts

Have to admit, I would be quite concerned by a car in my lane for no apparent reason if I was motoring along at 50, even if it was 400 yards away. That sort of stuff gets people killed.

I think for the OP's benefit, I would recommend procuring a copy of the Highway Code and having a good read before starting to drive on UK roads. I'm sure Amazon in the US and Canada hold a few paper copies in stock. It doesn't tell you how to drive, but it's full of information that's going to make you a better driver.

Youtube is a great resource for watching others drive in the UK. Some of the driving schools that make videos are quite entertaining. Those can give you an idea of traffic flow and all the type of observations you need to make while driving in the UK, which may be more than you're accustomed to in North America.

Posted by
189 posts

I guess I was assuming people from the continent drive their own cars to England for holidays and then often wind up accidentally driving on the wrong side, so Brits would be used to seeing that

Well Harry Dunn (RIP) wasn’t expecting it when he met Anne Sacoolas. Why should we be expecting people to be on the wrong side of the road?

Posted by
85 posts

Hi Camborne 2018,
Good point. Looks like I was mistaken in my assumption.

Posted by
805 posts

I think for a week it doesn't really make sense to rent a car in most cases. Rebecca is right on the money that it's unnecessary for most people's trips in England because of the good public transport network. It's made more sense for someone like Mardee who's out for six weeks at a time and has seen a lot places I'd never even heard of because of having a car. If your visit of a week involves stays in any cities like London or York it's even less worth considering. It's a different sort of trip you need to plan if you've got a car.

Posted by
366 posts

For me, the freeway and the country roads in Wales were not difficult. But when I had to navigate around a city (Chester), I found it very difficult. I had an automatic transmission

I think it just depends on the person.

Posted by
33130 posts

Looks like I was mistaken in my assumption

I'm afraid so.

I live quite close to where poor Harry Dunn was killed and the driver jumped on a plane and claimed diplomatic immunity. For killing a person.

Posted by
250 posts

I’m not sure what trip duration has to do with renting a car or not. We spent a mere week in Yorkshire and wanted a car. Yes, we might have gotten by on public transit but we preferred to have a car. We did not have the rental for our time in York or London and uses the train to get between the two.

Posted by
411 posts

I have driven a rental car many times in England. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve re left hand side driving, but manageable for most. Strongly recommend you rent an automatic. Also as small a car as will suit your needs. Driving distances are deceiving; recommend advance research using Trip Planner feature of www.theaa.com. There may be a uk in the website name ((i can’t easily check bc i’m typing this in my cell phone). This is the website for the equivalent of AAA. Above all, be ready for very narrow parking spaces. Even now after 20 plus years of driving in England, i try very hard to park where there are 2 adjacent empty parking spaces. And be aware that speed limits are monitored by cameras.

Posted by
189 posts

I couldn’t agree less with the “get the smallest car you can find” vibe. The dimensions are pretty much irrelevant, if you are going to crash into a Cornish hedge you will do it just as efficiently in a tiny car. In my car I have clearance of about 8 inches on either side between two Cornish hedges, which is ample. If I had a baby car I might have an inch or two more clearance. The trick is, you know, don’t drive into the granite.

What I see in Cornwall regularly is tourists rammed into tiny cars with so much luggage they can’t even see out of the rear windows.

Posted by
1188 posts

Obviously driving on the left is an issue if you've never done it before. Please watch some You Tube videos about driving here. If you will be venturing out into the more rural places (Cornwall, west coast of Scotland) where we have single track roads with passing places, then watch videos about how to use them.

Keep a post it note somewhere visible to remind you to keep left.

Our intersections, roundabouts, traffic lights are all different from the USA/Canada. We do not have 4 way stop intersections. We have a lot of "Give Way" junctions where you take a look both ways and move if safe to do so. Many people will not be expecting you to stop for ages at those intersections. Get a copy of the UK Highway Code and read it.

Learn how to reverse park and parallel park if that's not something you do often. You won't find huge parking spaces set at an angle like at Costco in the USA. Our spaces are small. Parking is often at the roadside and requires reverse parking skills.

Posted by
115 posts

Last summer my 18 year old niece and I (61) drove a rental car (me, not her) from Bath to Edinburgh via York and Alnwick and a few other spots. We had no problems at all. The car was tiny and an automatic. We each had one carry-on, so a big car wasn't necessary, and I found it very useful when it came to parking.

The only issue I had initially was centering myself in the lane; I rubbed the left tires on the curb a few times before I realized I needed to be closer to the dividing line. My niece was invaluable in the roundabouts, letting me know which exits to take. If you're traveling with a partner, having a navigator is extremely helpful.

Oh, and I got a ticket! We were driving under a river (the Tyne?) and there was toll via camera. I should have investigated how to pay later, but I just forgot. Enterprise ended up paying it and then charged my cc, plus a hefty service charge. I think there was a late penalty on the toll as well.

This fall my husband and I will be touring Cornwall and Yorkshire by car, and I will take the advice of someone in this thread and read the driving code ahead of this trip. I should already have done so. And don't hesitate to ask for route recommendations on this forum. There are some true transportation whizzes among this group who are quite generous in sharing their experience.

Posted by
538 posts

I couldn’t agree less with the “get the smallest car you can find” vibe. The dimensions are pretty much irrelevant, if you are going to crash into a Cornish hedge you will do it just as efficiently in a tiny car.

True, I suppose, but when I first saw my little Toyota Yaris rental in Ireland I thought, "What a tiny piece of ****." And when I turned it back in a week later I was enthusing about the bigger margin of error I had in the narrow stone-lined lanes compared to the BMW 5-series and Volvo SUVs other renters had. (And the Yaris really was a very nice car.)

Posted by
6832 posts

jphbucks, I agree wholeheartedly. I had a Toyota Yaris in Scotland last year and really liked it. Not just for its nice handling but also the fact that it was small enough to keep me from worrying too much about slipping off the road edges.

This fall my husband and I will be touring Cornwall and Yorkshire by car, and I will take the advice of someone in this thread and read the driving code ahead of this trip.

Sara, I think that's a good idea but sometimes even that doesn't help. I was religious about staying within the speed limit and watching the road signs, but one rainy day when I was trying to get onto a bridge, I inadvertently slipped into a bus lane and was sent a notice. It's still in the works (you can read about it here: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/england/i-need-help-with-a-penalty-charge-notice-i-just-received-from-the-uk) but you can't prepare for everything.

One thing to note: everyone always talks about how the narrow single-track roads have speed limits of up to 60 mph. I was talking about that with a friend of mine who I was staying with in Liverpool (she's Canadian but has lived in the UK for over 30 years). She said that this true, but ythe law also says drivers must take into account all relevant conditions, such as weather, car size, driver experience, time of day, and so on. So even if you were going 50 mph on a single-track road, you could still be cited.

Posted by
115 posts

jphbucks, thank you, yes, I had a Yaris too! I couldn't remember the make until you mentioned it. Ours was bright red- easy to spot in those vast parking areas like Warwick Castle (ugh, never again). In Edinburgh, we stayed in an Airbnb that included a tiny garage. Any larger car would have relegated us to a distant car park...

Posted by
115 posts

Mardee, yes, I followed your thread (and others!) regarding the citation. What bad luck to start your driving adventure in a downpour!

Posted by
343 posts

Mardee, so you can also be cited for going under the single track road speed limits as well as over? That could be problematic for me as I thought I would take my good sweet time getting around on this virgin UK driving experience. I’m not sloth slow, but I have no problem letting people pass me if I am holding them up here on the highways.

Posted by
805 posts

so you can also be cited for going under the single track road speed limits as well as over?

If Mardee pardons me interjecting, no don't worry about that. There's no rules against going too slow. If you're doing something that's dangerous as a result, or don't seem to be in control of the car, there's offences like "driving without due care and attention" that cover that. There isn't really a big culture of police ticketing unduly in the UK, in my opinion anyway. If a cop saw you holding up a half mile line of traffic, they might have a word.

Speed limits work a little bit differently here. We have something called the "national speed limit", which is 60mph on a single carriageway, 70mph on a dual carriageway. You have to work out yourself how safe it is to drive under those limits depending on the road. There won't be a speed limit sign necessarily, a white circle with a diagonal black stripe is the national speed limit sign. The Highway Code covers all these things better than me.

Posted by
6461 posts

@mustlove dogs - In theory you can be cited for going so slowly that you are obstructing other traffic, but as long as you pull over and let others pass that would almost never happen.
You are actually required under the Highway Code to pull over if you see a line behind you in your mirrors.
The real point is that almost rural roads are 60mph roads by default. But if you cause an accident by driving at a speed which is too fast for a "prudent and careful driver" (I think that's the legal phrase) even if you are well under 60 then that is an offense.
60mph is a maximum, not an aim.

One example- the Honister pass in the Lake District is an unrestricted road- that is 60mph. Even in the early morning with an empty road most people would be hard pressed to exceed 40 for any length of time.

Twice in a week people have crashed into stone walls on the road and blocked the road- the first time for 4 hours apparently while recovery was arranged. Looking at the pictures of both accidents the only possible cause is speed, driving too fast for the road conditions or driver capability. I very much doubt either was doing anything like 60mph- if they were they would have probably ricocheted off the wall, and rolled. Especially with the 1st accident I hope to goodness the police prosecuted.

You'll be just fine.

Posted by
343 posts

Thanks Gerry and Stuart for the information. I can promise you none of the drivers in my travel party will be going close to the maximum, but also will def pull over if we can bc we are holding a line - or even a car or two- behind us. It’s funny, in my neck of the woods, there is a popular car window sticker that a lot of parents have bought and placed on their new teen drivers’ back windshield: “Be Patient- New Student Driver” it says very prominently. I think I am going to design my own for our trip: “Be patient- American 60 Something and Newbie UK Driver”. :)

Btw, the handbook you mentioned is very helpful for anyone thinking of driving there. Studying that and watching YouTube tutorials are definitely on my before trip to do list.

Posted by
805 posts

You're probably not going to be the slowest thing on the road if you encounter anyone towing a caravan (camping trailer US?) or driving a camper. I think the whole "van life" thing that's exploded on social media the last few years has put a lot more bigger vehicles on the road. South west England always had a bit of the surfer / hippy van folks but a lot of routes will be full of people living van life fantasies this summer.

Here in the UK you wear an "L" plate on your car when you're learning to drive. There's also a "P" plate, which isn't compulsory, that you can use after passing your test to let everyone know that you're a new driver. I don't think it would be legal for full US driving licence holders to use that though.

Posted by
189 posts

There is nothing in law preventing anyone using on not using a P plate. They have no legal status.

Posted by
805 posts

Ah fair enough. My intuition would be to not recommend one anyway. I think mustlovedogs would be better off getting that sticker printed up that they suggested. That may be more effective.

Posted by
343 posts

Oh, I was just teasing about the sticker creation! :)
If some entrepreneur comes up with something like it and it becomes a “thing” on etsy or whatever, though, you all can vouch for me talking about it first! Lol

Actually, I really won’t need a sticker… the whiteness of my knuckles will probably send enough of a message!

Posted by
805 posts

Oh, I was just teasing about the sticker creation! :)

Set up your own etsy and translate it into a variety of European languages. You've got a captive market here on the RS forums :)

Posted by
343 posts

Ok for a Saturday afternoon giggle…

Just looked up stickers about new drivers on Etsy. None for newbie driving as an American in the UK, but there were some that are also applicable (for me at least) in this situation!

  1. A snail graphic with “new driver” on its shell

  2. Student Driver- I’m Freaking Trying

  3. Rookie Driver- My driving scares me, too

  4. New Driver - Good luck everyone

And My fave

New Driver- Don’t honk at me or I’ll cry

:))))

Posted by
6832 posts

You have to work out yourself how safe it is to drive under those limits depending on the road.

Mustlovedogs, what Gerry said. I didn’t mean to imply that you could be cited for going too slow. I meant to say that even if you were going under the speed limit, if the conditions mandate you going even slower, then you could be cited if you hit something or are in an accident.

Posted by
343 posts

That’s what I thought you meant, mardee, but wasn’t totally sure.

Camborne2018, I’m sure! While some are kind of clever, these rear window stickers get so out of hand over here. (Along with the takes on the “Baby on Board” or “Stick Figure Family” or even our vanity license plates). If you’re familiar, I would love to hear a bit of British sarcasm about those! Lol

Now, back to my reading the Highway Code…

Posted by
538 posts

Unlike the party who won't get near the maximum, I'll be skirting the outer edge of velocity legality.

Just a public service announcement, of sorts. Let me know if you want to know my itinerary.

Posted by
33130 posts

we have enough home-grown speed demons, thanks.

Not only is there the human cost and carnage when things go urp, we have too many multi-hour closed roads while emergency services put things back where they should be. The inconvenience is huge.

Try and stay within the (already pretty high for a densely populated little island) established limits... the speed limit is not a goal, but rather a safe maximum, no matter 20 or 70.

And remember - we have speed cameras and average speed cameras everywhere.

Posted by
18544 posts

Some can, others .......... wellllllll........ I tried once (in South Africa) and it was a freeking disaster. Why cant people just drive on the correct side of the street? Geeeezzzzzz.

Posted by
189 posts

Unlike the party who won't get near the maximum, I'll be skirting the outer edge of velocity legality.

Oh that’s nice.

Posted by
805 posts

Your GPS navigation apps will have speed cameras noted. I believe Waze will say something out loud if you're speeding on approach, if I remember correctly from my sister's driving. They're also well signposted by the roadside. Average speed cameras that work out your speed between two points, usually in roadworks (construction zone) are something you need to be mindful of. Easy to get caught out by those if you're not careful.

Posted by
6461 posts

In some parts of the country there are also speed camera vans which move around every few hours. Some County police forces advertise their locations ahead of time, some like Cumbria don't.
By the time you see one parked at the roadside you are too late.

Unless speed is really gross you won't be stopped, just receive the ticket in the mail (via your rental company). And the points on your licence. I don't know how points work for foreigners.

On the M6 they park on the bridges over the motorway, usually bridges on sweeping corners where you get little warning. Most locals know those M6 locations, and routinely ease off a bit just in case.

They are there for a reason, usually choosing accident blackspots where speed has been the primary cause of multiple accidents.

In Cumbria the police also use unmarked cars. They will trail and pace you then call up marked traffic cars to stop you.

Posted by
538 posts

For those of you who seem frightened by the idea of sharing the highway with me, I should note that I've never received a speeding ticket. So there's that.

I'll certainly take into account all the excellent information provided by knowledgeable posters here. Thanks, all!

Posted by
214 posts

All good info. Especially the narrow parts, like puny parking spots. Get used to folding your mirrors in. I have walked, hitchhiked, bussed, trained, driven, and cycled in the UK. I won't drive if I can help it anymore. But I wouldn't say driving there is hard. The car is not quite what it is in NA: it takes way longer to get anywhere than here, and increases stress, which a holiday is supposed to alleviate. Just my 2 p.

Posted by
20 posts

I've driven in England on two different trips and I didn't find it too difficult to adjust to the left side of the road. As others have said, the highways are fairly easy to get used to and the roundabouts are not bad either as long as you know your exit and are prepared when you get to one. Driving in the cities/towns was the most stressful part and I would avoid it as much as possible. Windsor was tricky and we only used the car to get to our hotel from the countryside and then returned it as soon as we checked in. In fact, our Uber driver that took us to the airport from Windsor said that if we thought driving in Windsor was bad, Birmingham was even worse!

Posted by
54 posts

I just returned from a 3 week driving trip around England. I strongly agree that driving on the left is not difficult. My driving sense adjusted immediately. Here are the issues with English roads:
1) Two way traffic on one lane roads. In places meeting another car requires creeping by extremely slowly or one car backing up to a wider spot for passing.

2) Blind corners. The road maintenance people really need to trim bushes and trees at intersections.
3) Pot holes. Kent seemed especially bad in this regard. They did have a very rainy winter.
4) In towns there will be a two lane road through the town or village but parking is allowed on one side blocking a lane. So sometimes I had to drive on the wrong side to get through town.

5) The roundabouts are really not a problem unless there is a lot of traffic. On really heavily traveled roundabouts there are traffic signals.
6) The M roads are similar to interstates in the US except that the off ramps are shorter.

7) You pay to park almost everywhere. Look for a Pay and Display box, not always obvious.

Posted by
7824 posts

I rented a care twice in the UK, the last time was in 2017 when we did a four week drive tour of Wales and England.
We didn't visit cities larger than Cardiff and York.

With proper planning, I booked lodgings that provided parking or otherwise parking was easily available.
I rented an automatic and had a navigation system with the car, which I recommend to any driving in the UK.

My wife was helpful in reminding me to stay on the left, especially when turning at an intersection.

Stay under the speed limit, traffic cameras are all over. I did pretty well, but did get a ticket for speeding 35mph in a 30mph zone. Cost was 40 GBP.

British drivers are generally polite and not to aggressive like the Italians or Germans.

Posted by
1 posts

Driving in England is done on the left-hand side of the road. Speed limits are posted in miles per hour, and roundabouts are commonly used at intersections.

Posted by
944 posts

What are the conventions in umarked areas, like parking lots?

Posted by
558 posts

What are the conventions in umarked areas, like parking lots?

A lot of car parks, as we call them here, will usually have arrow markings on the ground pointing which way you can drive. If in doubt, stay left - but generally just follow any signage.

You don’t always find that cars follow the signage but the usual British approach is to fix motorists with a HARD STARE if you see them coming the wrong way through a car park.

Posted by
331 posts

Am I just being over-suspicious, but doesn’t the entry by Amstransfers above read like AI? Apologies to them if they are a real person!

Posted by
6832 posts

Amanda, probably but not worth worrying about. You could report it though.

I rented an automatic and had a navigation system with the car, which I recommend to any driving in the UK.

I prefer using Google Maps for my sat nav device, especially if the car has CarPlay. It just makes it so much easier, especially in the roundabouts. I would steer my car in the exact direction that the car on CarPlay was going, and it really helped.