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British Road Rules

The thought of driving in a foreign country can be daunting to even the most confident of drivers, with a plethora of alternative road rules to what you’re used to back home. Driving in the United Kingdom can be especially intimidating compared to driving in the United States due to the fact that the Brits drive on the left, have a vast array of different road signs all meaning different things (assumed knowledge to British drivers) and all of the speed limits are in miles per hour as opposed to the familiar kilometres per hour. Here at Easirent we have compiled a list of some of the most common rules to be aware of on British roads, to at least get you out the starting blocks and keep you confident on the carriageways.

1. Drive on the left

Of course we all know that the Brits drive on the left, and to some drivers this is an easy transition. However, there are a fair few motorists that find this concept completely alien to them, so it helps to have a few handy tips to fight the fear of left lane driving. Make sure that you take care at junctions and always look to the right when exiting a road. If you’re wary of driving on British roads, then you can contact the International Drivers Service on 020-8570-9190 which is a helpful service to teach drivers how to survive on British roads.

2. Traffic Sign Shape

There are a vast array of different shaped traffic signs flanking British roads, and it’s helpful to know how to distinguish the difference between them. Warning signs are generally triangular in shape with a red border; prohibitive signs are circular with a red border; directional signs are rectangular and are distinguished by the background colour (blue – motorway, green – primary routes, white – secondary routes and brown – tourist attractions).

3. Bus Lanes and Taxi Lanes

There are specialised lanes designated to taxis and buses on British roads, and you can find yourself with a nasty fine if you drive in them when you’re not authorised to do so. Generally, the hours of operation will be signposted, but to err on the side of caution we would advise you to steer clear of them at all times.

4. Cellphones

Since December 2003 a law has been in place in the United Kingdom that prohibits the use of cellphones while driving. This includes the use of a cellphone while stationary but with the engine still running. The use of a cellphone in a vehicle has been proved to increase the risk of an accident by over 400%. So no cellphones while in the car.

5. Speed Limits

Another difficult one for many foreigners to get their heads around is the British speed limit system. Dealing in miles per hour (mph) as opposed to the familiar kilometres per hour (kph) it is a good idea to swot up on the speed limits on British roads, before you hit the road. Unless signs show otherwise, the following speed limits apply:

– Motorways and dual carriageways – 70mph (113kph)
– Unrestricted single carriageways – 60mph (97kph)
– Towns and built up areas – 30mph (48kph)

It is also worth acknowledging that any vehicle towing a caravan or trailer must reduce its speed limit by 10mph on all of the above roads and it is strictly prohibited to travel in the outside lane of the motorway.

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