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Tell me your stories about driving on the other side of the road for the first time......

My husband and I are quite good drivers in Canada and did really well in France when we took my mom last October. We want to visit the United Kingdom and Ireland next but my mom is a bit iffy as she does not want to do a guided tour but us driving on the left has her hesitating.......

What was your first experience like? We would do a 2 1/2 weeks of driving followed by a week in London with no car......

Thanks for any and all stories....good or bad.

Posted by
1838 posts

Doing the UK & Ireland in one go is a bit much and you will probably not be able to take your car across the Irish Sea - so would need to hire 2 cars.

You will not find all stop junctions like you have in Canada. Neither can you make a turn (right in Canada) when held at a red light.
On roundabouts, you give way to traffic already on the roundabout. Roads come in 3 main categories. Motorways (M) are long distance divided highways usually with 3 lanes each way. The next category down are 'A' roads and some of these are also divided highways. Next come 'B' roads which can best be regarded as good country roads. Country roads may only be wide enough for one vehicle - so you may have to reverse to the nearest passing place. Many of the roads evolved from medieval tracks so you can expect far more bends than is the case in Canada. Towns were also built long before the car age so in many shopping streets, cars have been banned completely. (You will probably find this a pleasant experience). That said, on the edges of towns, you will often find retail parks & supermarkets with extensive free parking - just like you have in Canada. Such supermarkets are the places to fill up with fuel as places on the motorways or the middle of towns are dearer. The supermarkets also have toilets.

On motorways, the speed limit is 70mph - yes, the Brits are old fashioned - still have distances in miles. Odd as just about everything else is metric including fuel being sold in litres (for price). Most other roads have a limit of 60mph unless a lower limit is shown. Where you see a white circle with a black bar - it means the 60mph limit applies - unless it is a dual carriageway - when the limit is 70mph (unless lower limit shown). Oh, and on multi lane highways, you must over take on the outside (to the right) of slower moving stuff.
http://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk

You should specify that you want an automatic - otherwise, you will get a manual transmission.

I would suggest that you look at Google Earth & zoom down to have a look at the places where you might go. You could even drag down the yellow man to see the streets & 'drive' along them .

Great Britain has an excellent train network which you also might like to consider using. The following link will tell you more:> http://www.seat61.com/UK-train-travel.htm#.Vwn_TOlVuiY

Posted by
1063 posts

" Most other roads have a limit of 60mph unless a lower limit is shown. Where you see a white circle with a black bar - it means the 60mph limit applies."

Since when? Dual carriageways (not motorways) are also 70mph roads and the white circle with a black diagonal bar means the max speed limit for that type of road (single carriageway 60mph, dual carriageway and motorways 70mph).
https://www.gov.uk/speed-limits
http://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/advice_centre/casualty_reduction_partnership/speed/know_your_speed_limits.aspx

Quote from website:
What is the speed limit on a dual carriageway?
The national speed limit is depicted by a white circular sign with a black stripe diagonally across it from right to left. If you are on a dual carriageway and driving a car or motorcycle the national limit is 70 mph. If you are on a single carriageway and driving a car or motorcycle the national speed limit is 60mph.

Posted by
80 posts

I expect you'd find driving on the left less challenging than you fear. It's worth checking for rules that differ between the UK/Ireland and Canada (the British highway code is here: https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/highway-code). Renting an automatic always seems absurdly expensive compared to the equivalent manual options.

You need to be careful turning from a one-way street into a two-way street. It's very easy for habit to kick in and you find yourself on the wrong side of the road. So think left.

But, generally speaking, if you remember that the driver is always nearer the middle of the road (left-hand drive in Canada, right-hand drive in UK/Ireland), you should be fine.

Also, the UK may still have imperial measurements on road signs, but Ireland is metric.

Posted by
4757 posts

Europe and America all drive on the wrong side of the road to me! I haven't had any difficulties hiring a car abroad and driving it. The difficulty is if you take your own car onto foreign roads on the wrong side that confusion can arise.

Check out the Highway Code before you come so you know speed limits etc.

You will find yourself trying to get into the drivers/ passengers door in error for the first few days. Likewise, for the first few days, ensure you are driving on the correct side of the road! This usually happens first thing in the morning.

Use an app such as Co Pilot for navigation.

As has already been said, you won't be able to take a hire car from the UK into Ireland.

Posted by
415 posts

I don't know if Ireland has those tiny little crooked roads like Scotland but that's what scared me. To get to our Timeshare we had to drive 4 miles down a tiny little crooked road that often was only big enough for 1 car. On one side often there was a wall with rocks or limbs jetting out, and on the other side often there were Lochs which I told were deep. Some parts of the lochs had stone walls to keeps cars from falling in, but in some places they were repairing the walls from what looked like car crash damage.

After 3 days of driving back and forth on this road my husband realized that everyone drove down the center of the road, but you had to be careful rounding the bend so as to not have a head on collision.

The area we stayed in was absolutely breathtaking. But the road scared me sh__less. If I had to do it all over again I would hire a car.

All other major roadways were awesome, no problem with driving on the left side of the road--most of the time.

Posted by
1292 posts

My first was driving off of the ferry in northern France. As Jennifer points out it can be worse with a vehicle built for the wrong rule, if you are hiring a car it will be UK or Irish specification, with the driver in the proper place.

Take care at junctions, get the passengers to act as overseers. We used to nag my dad frequently on holidays to France etc.

However I have seen, and used in reverse, people who have brought their own cars place reminders. These were things like a ribbon tied at the 9 o'clock point of the steering wheel, a post it note with an arrow with the drivers word for 'left' written in it.

Also I would recommend looking on YouTube for videos of people in the same boat. Driving on the correct side will get easier, as does driving on the wrong side for us when we go to Canada, other parts of Europe or the USA.

Posted by
2487 posts

The first day is getting used to it, which is best done with traffic around you to remind you where you're supposed to be. The second day you take care to keep at the right wrong side. The third day you think you're used to it. It takes one scary moment to realise you're not. From day four it is getting a routine. At day five you get the illusion it's normal. At day six you wonder how you drove at home.

Posted by
1292 posts

To add as well, it is not always the switching the side that is the problem. You adapt fairly quickly, it is the extra rules that get you. It is not driving on the wrong side most British and Irish tourists have the problem in elsewhere in Europe, it is priorité à droit, in North America the four way stop and turn on red rules that throw people out. North Americans sometimes find in the UK we don't as much park as seemingly abandon our cars at the side of the road. Items as simple as road markings can have completely different meanings between countries, yellow lines on the side of the road mean different thinks in the UK and Ireland for example.

Have a look at the Highway Code linked above. Some guide books also cover some of the differences a local takes for granted, they are worth reading up. But most people do adapt, millions of people switch side every year.

Posted by
80 posts

My first experience? My 11 year old son burst into tears within five minutes of us on the road begging me to return the car. We got lost trying to get out of Carlisle and went on the same roundabout seven times before finally figuring out which turn to take. And then there was that motorcyclist that I almost gave a heart attack to since I was on the wrong side of the road. Driving on the left side of the road isn't that bad. You just follow the car in front of you. What gave us the willies was how narrow the roads are, the fact that they don't have as many road signs as they do in the US (where there seems to be a sign every now and then saying which road you are on), and the lack of places to pull off to the side when you encounter another vehicle. There are no shoulders in the UK. I also got confused when I would pull down a road and I was convinced that I was going the wrong way down a one way street since it was so narrow. It was stressful, but we did get to see areas of England at our own pace (Lake District and North Wales) that we wouldn't have been able to if we were on a train. The drivers are also very polite and forgiving.

Much to the horror of my son, we are renting a car again this July when we are in Cornwall. Aside from really studying the signs to understand their meaning, I will also have the rental agency plug into the GPS the location of our hotel as well as their location so I know how to return back to the agency. We got lost in Bangor, Wales trying to find the rental location. Took us over an hour to find it but I did see some lovely scenery.

Posted by
1049 posts

I haven't driven in England, but I have been a passenger. One of the tricks my friends have told me that has worked for them is: if you are the driver of the car, just remember to put you in the center of the road. This is especially helpful when you are coming out of a roundabout.

Posted by
4698 posts

In 1963 on a moped, with zero US driving experience, I had no trouble. Nearly 50 years later, in an automatic-shift rental car, I had a lot of trouble. My body was so used to right-side driving that I overcompensated for the center line, terrifying my wife every few blocks by nearly sideswiping cars and curbs and those ancient stone walls they use for shoulders. Once I blew out the left front tire banging into a stone set into the pavement on the left side. (Thanks again to the kind friendly people at the garage outside of Wrexham.) Backing out of parking spaces I'd turn my body to the right to look out the rear window, which of course wasn't there. After about a week I remembered to turn my body left to see out the back. Of course I had the problem we all have with turns, heading instinctively into the right lane until the wife/navigator yelled "left left left" repeatedly. Not every time, just often enough to be scary. We have lots of roundabouts here, but remembering to look right instead of left for traffic took awhile.

I got better after we hired a taxi in Richmond to take us up the back roads into Swaledale. Sitting in the back seat, right behind the driver, I realized that there was room to avoid the center line and oncoming cars. I had been holding my body in the position I use driving at home, i.e. leaning slightly to the left so my sight line is just right of the center line. By reversing this lean I could see how much room I really had on the right, and then my wife wasn't so nervous.

I think it's harder for older drivers for the obvious reasons, including a lifetime of conditioning to believe that an oncoming vehicle to your right is catastrophic instead of routine. (See the idiot in the video link above.) I had to make a real effort in our three weeks, and on our next trip we're taking trains and a guided tour of Cornwall -- to spare the other road users as much as ourselves.

The automatic shift helps you focus on the road instead of also shifting with the "wrong" hand. But it usually means a bigger car, so less margin of error on narrow roads. And they cost more and aren't always available.

I'd say go for it, do your best, and get full insurance coverage. It helps to have passengers to keep you alert and say "left left left" when necessary. The less US driving experience you have, the easier the switch will be -- at least that's how it seemed to me.

Posted by
3138 posts

In 1994/5, I was an exchange teacher in London, in the borough of Lewisham, not the center. A few days after I had mastered the route to my school, I was suddenly confronted by a road closure. Fortunately, I had an A-Z; unfortunately, the print size of the arrows showing one-ways was miniscule and very light. I was terrified to try making a right turn onto main roads and kept running into dead-ends on side streets.. My problem was compounded by the fact that it seems that it was legal for cars to be parked on either side of 2-way streets facing in either direction. Several times when about to make a turn, I saw cars facing me, and thought I was turning onto a 1-way street. Stress about being late for work didn't help. In desperation, I finally went into a shop, explained my problem, and asked to use the phone. A kindly gent, overhearing, asked where I was going and offered to lead me there. I had been about 5 minutes from the school for quite a while, but unable to actually get there. The very good-natured headmaster had realized what must have happened, and covered my class until I arrived,

Motorways are a snap compared to city streets.
One other thing . . . be prepared for disorientation about side of road, especially when making turns, the first few days after returning home. Also, it helps for the driver to keep thinking about staying close to the center line.
Just thought of a further alert. In many places, street names change very often. A gps may sounds as if you're going onto a different road, but it's just a different name for the same road. Also, to further confuse you, streets may have very similar names; e.g., where we were living, there were Lee High Road, Lee Gardens, Lee Place, and Lee Park, all near each other.

Posted by
31 posts

I have driven in the UK for many years and look forward to the experience. The drivers in the UK are much better than in Arizona where I live.

I noticed that your brain takes a while to adjust to driving on the left. I would find myself leaning to the left in the driver's seat. It took me several trips to get over this. I also get a suprise when I look at an oncoming car and don't see anyone in the driver's seat. It takes a second to realize I'm looking at the wrong side of the car.

Read the "The Highway Code". Google "uk highway code download" and you will see a PDF to download. Once you are in the UK you can purchase a hard copy at any bookstore. Read about pedestrain crossings to understand Zebra and Pelican crossings.

To rephrase yosemite1's comment in that I always try and remember the steering wheel goes in the center of the road. It would seem that it would be easier the first couple of days if there were no other cars but I agree with tonfromieiden that it is easier with other cars around that you can follow. If you are driving on the motorway use the rest stops to relax. There is one on the M4 near Reading that I always stop at after leaving Heathrow.

If you are following a route, such as the A4, and you come to a roundabout and your route isn't listed, then go straight. It took me a while to realise this and would think I had missed a turn somewhere. Also as you are driving through a town and come to a curve where the road forks, pay attention to the edge line on the side of the road, it will determine which is the main route.

I recently found out that if you look at the gas guage there should be a small arrow pointing to the side of the car that the fuel filler flap is on.

Posted by
46 posts

We shipped our motorcycle to U.K. for a year of touring. It was easy with a motorbike. Returning back to Canada, noticed cars parked facing us. We were still driving on the left side of the road. Scary! Never say they drive on the "wrong side" of the road. The narrow roads in Scotland are exciting, met a French tour bus on a blind curve, if it hadn't been for the guard rail, we would have been in the river.

Posted by
49 posts

Tell your mom not to worry. I've rented a car a number of times in the UK and became accustomed to driving on the left in no time at all. Beware that most of the cheaper rental cars are manual so this was another thing you might consider when ordering your rental car. Managing a stick shift with your left hand is also easy to get used to but if you don't want the hassle, be sure to order an automatic.

The first time I drove in the UK I side swiped the driver side mirror a few times: once on a ferry ride over to the Isle of Wight(those turns onto the ferry are tight) and once getting into a tight parking spot in a parking garage with two cement pillars on either side of me.

My advice is to push in the driver side mirror when you can, order a SMALL car, and have your cell phone enabled for Google Map usage so you don't get lost on those tiny country roads.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
1786 posts

Last summer we were in the English countryside driving out from Heathrow. We rented a 9 person van for 7 people and luggage.

First advice- get full insurance

As a passenger/navigator all I did was yell, "stay left, stay left"!

Hubby did a great job of driving, only had two incidences of not being able to pass on a roadway (you'll have a smaller car) and we made it out alive. A few bush scrapes on the van and happy we got the insurance so we didn't have a worry.

Posted by
1293 posts

We drove in South Africa from Johannesburg to Kruger Park. Hubby said not to request a standard car. An automatic was much more expensive. He was not happy when he saw the stick shift. I was the navigator and lane monitor along with doing all of the shifting while he worked the clutch.

Posted by
5634 posts

It's easier than you think. Honestly. First drove the island in 97 solo with a clutch then again in 2015 with an automatic. Born when Truman was in office. Merely a matter of staying focused and allowing your brain to re align its visual perception. Follow what cars in front of you do. It's the roundabouts that take a bit of time to get accustomed to but even those are easily conquered after a couple of spins.

My story involves friends. I've always been the designated driver on excursions with friends. I pride myself in my driving. In Ireland a friend insisted she get to drive on the back roads. My friend will never admit it but she's a poor driver, her sister and I knew this. I sat in what her sister and I referred to as the death seat, the front passenger seat and off we went. On wee back roads, my grip was tight, as hedges and sheep were barely avoided. Then as we approached a small village where a local soccer game was being held I started praying. There were banners strung over the road and cars parked willy nilly on either side. She was urged to slow down as we made our way down the road. She did but not enough. I could see it was a tight squeeze. Apparently she couldn't and we promptly hit and destroyed 3 driver side view mirrors, ours and two on other vehicles before she slammed on the breaks. The noise caused some spectators to rush over to see the damage. Her sister burst into hysterical laughter as I tried desperately to remain calm and not laugh.

The car owners were gracious, my friend completely humiliated and furious at her sister. I stood off to the side surveying the damage caused by my friend's mistaken belief she's a good driver not wanting to add to her embarrassment. After things were sorted she walked towards me, shoved the keys into my hand and under her breath uttered , " not one word. " It's been nearly 20 years. Still friends as the incident has never been mentioned. Moral of the story? Get all the insurance you can, take it slow and what happens in Ireland stays in Ireland.

Posted by
4528 posts

"My problem was compounded by the fact that it seems that it was legal for cars to be parked on either side of 2-way streets facing in either direction."

It is only illegal to park against the direction of the traffic at night. (Highway Code rule 248.)

Posted by
571 posts

Legal or not, plenty of British drivers park against the direction of traffic during the darkness, and I am not aware of anyone being fined for it, unless they have parked dangerously. Most British drivers are so relieved to find an empty parking space that they grab it irrespective of any difficulty they might then experience.

Posted by
9363 posts

I, too, was a little spooked, at first, by cars parked in either direction on both sides of the road. :) My main problem was remembering to stay to the left on wide, unmarked driveways, like when you pull into a gas station. Driving on the left soon became second nature, so much so that I would head to the wrong side of the car at home for a few days.

Posted by
260 posts

It takes a little getting used to, but it gets to be more comfortable in a day or two. Our first time we drove to the Cotswolds from Bath on a Saturday in June and initially I hit a few curbs and shoulders on the left. I couldn't figure out why I was routinely drifting the same direction. After a couple days, I realized I had to train my eye to watch the center line (on my right) rather than the shoulder on my left. In the States, my eye naturally trains left behind the wheel and toward the center line - which in the UK gives you a view across your car and to the shoulder. Look toward the center line, even though this is to the right hand side. As soon as I realized that I had no troubles. Roundabouts are circular and thus perfect for several trips around while you get your bearings (even if your spouse is laughing at you in the passenger seat!). Slow and steady - let the locals honk if needed or pass when they can, but do not speed up until you feel more comfortable driving. In any case, I certainly would not alter travel plans based on the driving concerns alone. You'd regret making too much out of them I think. Enjoy the trip!! I can't imagine how you would not - the UK is an endlessly fascinating place and Ireland remains very much on my list.

Posted by
31 posts

I realized I had to train my eye to watch the center line (on my right) rather than the shoulder on my left.

I agree with Steve. My philosophy is to get as close to the center line or oncoming vehicle as feels comforatble and the pasenger side will take care of itself.

My one story was in Austria, not in the UK. I had picked up a new BMW throuth European Delivery. On a narrow winding road I came upon a tour bus. The driver pulled over to the right and motioned me to come by.. With the bus on one side and a stone wall on the other I just got as close to the bus as I could and was OK.

Posted by
4524 posts

For me there are no "stories." I was nervous too, but once you are sitting on the right side of the car, it is pretty natural to keep oncoming traffic to your right. It would feel very weird in the extreme to suddenly find yourself driving in the right hand lane with the shoulder alongside you.

The tough part is navigating and especially in roundabouts. Have a good GPS system.

Posted by
3318 posts

The first time I was going to drive in England I hailed a cab for about an hour to drive me around so I could get the feel for being on the "wrong" side of the road. I asked lots of questions too and the driver was happy to educate me! The know the road better than anyone. I am completely comfortable now whenever I visit. It always takes a bit of time to adjust but you'll get used to it quickly.
Pick up the car in the least congested area you can and practice driving on neighborhood streets before getting out on the motorway or busy streets.

Posted by
3091 posts

Everything posted covers UK driving like a wet blanket , so I won't repeat any of it . I have one additional thought - I have done considerable driving in the UK and found that there is a learning curve . The first few days behind the wheel were accompanied by higher levels of stress , but as I calmed down things improved . One thing became clear over the years , It wasn't the driving on the left or the roundabouts or even the narrow roads that caused the greatest challenge . On reflection , I came to realize that , being accustomed to driving on the right , I was experiencing everything in a reversed or mirror image which can play havoc with how one's brain interprets the incoming information . As time went by , I gradually became used to the cognitive difference . Driving in the UK ( outside of London ) is , for me , the way to go , many of the places we have visited were really only practical with a car . As Nancy said , I also return with a strange urge to drive on the left , much to my wife's chagrin . This is another short video of the Magic Roundabout in Swindon , and if you watch carefully , you will see that the inner or main roundabout goes in a counter clockwise direction ( enter right , rather than enter left ) which really can throw a wrench into things if you are unaware of that anomaly - https://youtu.be/D22BOOGbpFM

Posted by
1188 posts

Even if you have a GPS navigation in your auto: Designate one person to be your navigator. It helps to line up your route using a map book with a large scale, then put the road numbers in a row to be on the lookout for them, ie.: a356 to a358 to b333 to M3 etc. This is especially necessary in the roundabouts to be in the correct lane to turn off. Using just the name of the place you want to go can be confusing: because on the M1 all roads lead to Kettering! The car navigator may want to route you the quickest way when you want the scenic way. You can program your own personal device to do this.

Posted by
31294 posts

photo,

I didn't have a lot of trouble adjusting to driving on the "correct side of the road", which I found surprising the first time I did it. I know someone from Manchester who has spent a lot of time driving both here an in the U.K., and he told me it wouldn't be difficult.

I've found that it's a good idea to spend a few minutes becoming familiar with the vehicle, and sitting on "the other side". Go over the layout of controls and if there's anything you don't understand, ask the rental agent. If you have a manual transmission, get used to shifting with the left hand. As you pull out of the rental lot, watch what the other traffic is doing and you'll soon get the idea. It's also a good idea to do a bit of research on signs and highway markings, such as the "zig-zag" pattern that's used in some places or the "box junction".

There are some differences in the rules that you'll need to be aware of. For example, in this area it's legal to make a right turn on a red light if safe to do so. AFAIK it's not legal to make a left turn on red in the UK. Also check the protocol for using roundabouts. I'd suggest paying for a good insurance package, as some of the roads are very narrow and scrapes and nicks can occur. Finally, pack along a GPS, as I've found that to be enormously helpful.

Happy motoring!

Posted by
2023 posts

Our first experience driving on the other side was twenty years ago. My husband was the driver and me the navigator. We foolishly picked up the car at Marble Arch in London and headed to Bath. It was scary in London--I can remember telling my husband we were getting within inches of a red double decker bus. Don't have any idea why we did not get the car at LHR. Drove the back road to Bath and did okay after getting to Marlborough. Another scary drive done just a few years ago was in the Lake District on the road to Hawkshead. We do fine now but husband will not make the drive to the Beatrix House again.

Posted by
2634 posts

"This is the mother of all roundabouts:> (it is in Swindon).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bOTTTETzX4"

James, thanks for that. I just loved when the woman said, "You've got to be kidding me!" when they finally figured out where the road was they wanted to turn onto. After they'd gone around the roundabout several times, with cars going in all directions!!!

Posted by
4698 posts

I remember coming home from my UK driving adventure and being picked up by a friend who drove my car. I was too tired to drive from airport to home, so she drove and I sat in the front seat, the same right-hand seat I'd been driving in for three weeks. But WHERE WAS THE WHEEL? A very strange disorienting ride home, fortunately with someone else at the (actual) wheel..... ;-)

Posted by
3138 posts

@Dick
One time near the start of our year in London, when I walked up to the left side of my car and saw no wheel, my first thought was, "Oh no! Someone has stolen my steering wheel". 2nd thought was, "that's crazy!"

Posted by
3 posts

In one of his blogs or radio talks, Rick recommends purchasing a 'P' or 'L' decal at a service station to designate you as a learner driver or probationary driver, as a way to give yourself a little slack with other drivers. Has anyone done this? It sounds like reasonable advice. I wondered if they really are regularly for purchase at most service stations.

Posted by
234 posts

This past summer I rented a car for the first time in the UK. At the Bath train station, I asked a taxi driver if she would give me an overview of some basic adjustments . . . roundabouts, narrow streets and right-of-way issues, emergency vehicles, pedestrians, et al. She took me on a 20-minute drive, and was very thorough in her explanation. Then, she waited for me at the rental car place (at no charge), then had me follow her to my B&B. It was an excellent introduction to driving in the UK (I tip I got from this forum).

The first couple of days were pretty stressful . . . I was constantly thinking about my driving . . . very little seemed natural. Being a tall guy, I had rented a medium sized car . . . that may have been too wide, as my wife was certain I was going to scrape the right-hand mirror on walls and parked cars (never did, but she swears that I was within an inch).

I got more comfortable as time went on, but there wasn't a day of driving where I didn't have to really focus , especially when in a busy four-lane roundabout or when the GPS was telling me to turn, but if I did I would be going against traffic (which happened in Durham . . . there was a lot of honking then). It wasn't that the GPS was wrong, it was just that I needed to turn at the NEXT street, which was about 30 feet away.

We saw so many places that would have been difficult, or at least not time-efficient, to see using public transportation. I'm glad I chose to drive, even though the stress did take some of the fun away (and at least a "divorce" didn't come up during our escapades).

I'm planning on a trip to the south of England in a few years . . . by car. So, I get it wasn't too bad. Of course, I haven't run that past wifey yet.

Posted by
9363 posts

The Learner Driver window clings are available at all convenience stores/gas stations. However, I was told that they also create restrictions that you might not be aware of. For example, L drivers can't legally drive on motorways, and a good portion of your driving might be on motorways. There might also be restrictions on the time of day you can drive. I would check it out thoroughly before planning to use one. In my experience, local drivers are plenty accepting and courteous of slower/hesistant drivers, and you won't be the first visitor they have encountered.

Posted by
2880 posts

Our very first driving experience in the UK was leaving Heathrow and getting on the M something for the 30 minute drive to our exchange house in St. Albans. Within 5 minutes of being on the motorway we heard an emergency vehicle siren. My husband instinctively slowed down and started changing lanes to get to the right. Wrong move! Lots of emergency vehicle honking made us realize that we should be pulling off to the left...

Posted by
1292 posts

For the L or P plates there are three separate legal meanings - Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
For Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) the red 'L', which can be a 'D' in Wales, places restrictions on the driver and must be displayed by a driver at a certain point in their driving career.

The green 'P' has no legal meaning in GB, but is commonly understood as a courtesy to other drivers to indicate the driver is newly minted and to ask for a bit of courtesy. There was talk about it becoming compulsory for new drivers but did not happen.

If you want the help, the green 'P' is the one to go for. As a neither L or P driver it indicates for me to give a bit more space and to park a few spaces away at Sainsbury's.

Posted by
178 posts

Getting off a plane and getting into a car and driving on the opposite side of the road can have deadly consequences. I know of someone who did this in Australia and is now serving time in jail for the accident he caused. Not only did he have life threatening injuries,his wife who was in the car was killed as were a woman and a baby in the second car.

Posted by
22 posts

and sing after me, "And the Driver stays in the middle of the Road, and the Driver Stays in the Middle of the Road" sung to any tune you like, especially helpful when you've turned onto a street with no oncoming traffic. Much more civilized than screaming "what the #$%# are you doing?". Keep the steering wheel in the middle of the road, and take as many turns as you need around the roundabout, that exit is coming up again.

Posted by
1005 posts

One of the hardest things is backing up. You want to look over your right shoulder, but suddenly you have to look over your left shoulder. It can be very disorienting. If you rental car is new and has a backup video camera and monitor, it can really help you judge the distances.