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Questions About Driving In England  
User currently offlineKYIPpilot From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 1383 posts, RR: 6
Posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 2069 times:

This is for those who know the English and American roads. I am thinking about traveling to England and would most likely rent a car. Besides driving on the other side of the road, how much different are the driving rules in England than America? I know the stearing wheel is on the right side also, but are the accelerator and brake pedals reversed also? Please fill me in with some general info. Thanks so much!

KYIP


"It starts when you're always afraid; You step out of line, the man come and take you away" -Buffalo Springfield
26 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineStarAC17 From Canada, joined Aug 2003, 3333 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 2055 times:

I know the stearing wheel is on the right side also, but are the accelerator and brake pedals reversed also?

No they're not reversed, but the turn signal and the winshield wiper controls are on the opposite sides. (I know this from Jamaica which also drives on the left so i don't know anything about British driving rules.)



Engineers Rule The World!!!!!
User currently offline2912n From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 2013 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 2040 times:

Pretty much the rules are the same, apply common sense. I think AAA has a book on European rules in general that you can get if you pick up an International License. (Some car rentals require this...God knows why since there is no test and it is not even issued by a government agency...)

The biggest problem I had was trying to look over my shoulder to back up. Habit has you putting your hand to the right rear and looking over your right shoulder...I don't know how many times I almost put my arm through the driver's side window! Be comfortable shifting as most of the rentals are standard transmission. If you don't want to deal with that be sure to ask for and reserve an automatic. They are limited in availability.

Roundabouts are something to get used to, but once you figure out the traffic flow you will wonder why we don't have them here. Just chant the mantra of "Keep to the LEFT." The first time you goof and see some big ass lorry coming right at you you will remember!  Smile


User currently offlinePaulc From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1490 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 2027 times:

There is no equivalent to the USA's 'right turn on red' - if you jump a red you could be in trouble.

The traffic light sequence is different also - in the UK Red = Stop, Red & Amber = get ready to move off, Green = Go. This is followed by a single amber light = get ready to stop then Red to stop. You are allowed to go through on amber if there is a risk of causing an accident by braking hard (esp if wet).

Lane discipline at roundabouts can be tricky - remember to keep left if going left or across, right if going right - you will find people in the right lane who will want to go straight across - ok if the exit has 2 lanes - not so good if there is only one. Also give lorries with trailers plenty of room at roundabouts as they will be in the left lane when turning right to allow the trailer to swing round.

Speeds on motorways will probably be more than you may be used to - dont panic - stick to the limits and you will be ok.
Overtake on the right on motorways not the left (although this is permitted in some circumstances - queues/road works etc)
Motorway signs tend to be better here than in the USA (in my experience) but as motorway speeds are higher a bit more anticipation may be needed ie getting into the correct lane well ahead of the junction. Motorway junctions are normally shown as 1 mile ahead so that gives approx 1 minute (at 60mph) before the exit slip and you will need to be in the left (inside) lane.

Get an auto if that is what you are used to driving - manual transmission takes a while to get right.

Get familiar with the controls before driving away - especially light/indicators/wipers/boot(trunk) release/fuel filler release/bonnet (hood) release - they can be tricky to find in a strange car (esp in the dark)

hope this info is useful



English First, British Second, european Never!
User currently offlineSaintsman From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2002, 2065 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 2017 times:

The biggest difference between USA and UK (and Europe come to that) is SIZE. The roads are so wide in the States and usually multi lane. We just don't have the space over here. Most roads have one lane per side unless you are on the major roads between towns and cities and even then you will rarely get more than two lanes.

You cannot turn left on a red light if it is clear like you can do a right in the States and watch the speed limits - There is an abundance of speed cameras where ever you go now.

When you hire your car you are more than likely to get a manual shift, especially on the budget cars. Book in advance if you want automatic.

Don't worry about it, just enjoy the experience.


User currently offlineBobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 2020 times:

If you'll be driving for long, get a copy of the "Highway Code" - a large newsagent, or maybe a bookshop, should have it. It's a standard handbook that apparently details all the driving rules (whether law or just common-sense or etiquette) about driving in the UK, although most drivers seem to forget it pretty quickly  Big grin

Try this:
http://www.highwaycode.gov.uk/drivers.shtml
There are some simple conventions on signs, so it doesn't take long to learn what each sign should mean, &c &c.

As everybody has said, try to book in advance if you want an automatic, though it's pretty common on the more expensive rentals. You might have to spend some extra time explaining your driving license to them if you don't have an IDL. Try to bring along some alternative ID (passport?), and more than one form of plastic, just in case.

Compared to the rest of Europe, the UK is a little stronger on lane discipline. If you have more than one lane to choose from, keep to the left.

Speed limits? If there's no sign telling you otherwise, assume 30mph in towns, 60mph on the open road, and 70mph on the motorway. Don't worry too much about speed cameras - if you stay close to the law, you're fine.



Cunning linguist
User currently offlineUTA_flyinghigh From Tunisia, joined Oct 2001, 6495 posts, RR: 51
Reply 6, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 2011 times:

the turn signal and the winshield wiper controls are on the opposite sides.
Yes if it's a Japanese, Korean or UK make, but no if it's a French or German make. I've had a Renault Clio, Mazda 626, Fiat Brava and a Toyota Corolla (all in 5months ! Sob ! ), the Fiap and the Renault were on the same side as left-hand drive cars, not the Japs. Which is facheux when I take my GF's Accent, left-hand drive of course.



Fly to live, live to fly - Air France/KLM Flying Blue Platinum, BMI Diamond Club Gold, Emirates Skywards
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54
Reply 7, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 1992 times:

the turn signal and the winshield wiper controls are on the opposite sides.
Yes if it's a Japanese, Korean or UK make, but no if it's a French or German make. I've had a Renault Clio, Mazda 626, Fiat Brava and a Toyota Corolla (all in 5months ! Sob ! ), the Fiap and the Renault were on the same side as left-hand drive cars, not the Japs. Which is facheux when I take my GF's Accent, left-hand drive of course

To be honest, most of the Japanese manufacturers have now abandoned this practice as well. Most of the big car markets drive on the right, and everyone is now used to it, so you probably won't have to worry about it all. Even if you do, it only takes a few minutes to get used to it.

I'm just wondering KYIPpilot, whether you are going to be picking up your car from Heathrow airport? If so, you will need to prepare yourself for joining the M25, the busiest road in Europe, for the first time. The technique adopted by natural born Brits around the western section is to hare down the slip road at about 90 mph, get in front of the lorry on the inside lane, and then slam on the brakes because there's a queue up ahead. DO NOT BE ALARMED! British drivers are actually quite courteous and they will let you in. Just drive normally. The M25 is a nightmare, it isn't all like that, but I have met numerous American tourists who have broken out into a cold sweat when talking about that motorway, because they weren't prepared for it.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offline2912n From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 2013 posts, RR: 8
Reply 8, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 1976 times:

If you can drive in LA, Chicago, New York or any other major American metro area you can drive on the M25. After all, it is known as the worlds largest car park! (It frequently comes to a dead stop...)

What can really be an adventure is wandering off on a country lane that is maybe a foot wider than your car and then meeting up with a lorry coming at you....You really learn your backing skills!  Smile


User currently offlineKYIPpilot From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 1383 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 1961 times:

Wow, thanks guys for all the info! I have not planned a trip yet, but I am really interested.


"It starts when you're always afraid; You step out of line, the man come and take you away" -Buffalo Springfield
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54
Reply 10, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 1958 times:

If you can drive in LA, Chicago, New York or any other major American metro area you can drive on the M25. After all, it is known as the worlds largest car park! (It frequently comes to a dead stop...)

Agreed. It's just joining it for the first time that tends to freak people out. Incidentally, other nicknames for it include "The Magic Roundabout" and of course Chris Rea's "Road to Hell" was a paean to that fine circle of concrete and tarmac.  Smile



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineEssjay From South Africa, joined Dec 2000, 75 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 1941 times:

One piece of advice if you're going to be driving in England: stay the hell away from London!  Wink/being sarcastic

Actually, it's not that bad if you know where you're going, but don't be in anything resembling a hurry...

If you're going to rent a car in London, check out easyCar (www.easycar.com). They are really quite cheap and (depending on rental location) you can rent a wicked Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

I rented a car 3 times from easyCar's Shepherd's Bush (London) office and all 3 times I got a A160 AvantGarde Automatic (which may be good for you if you are like most Americans and cannot drive a Manual or what y'all call a "stick"!) - sorry, just taking the piss there!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy


User currently offlineFSPilot747 From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 3599 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 1931 times:

"but are the accelerator and brake pedals reversed also? "

Nah. Them Brits aren't THAT screwed up  Big grin


FSP


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54
Reply 13, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1925 times:

"but are the accelerator and brake pedals reversed also? "

Nah. Them Brits aren't THAT screwed up

In that case, it's about time we mounted a campaign to get them changed around. Can't have you lot coming over here thinking it's pretty normal.  Big grin



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineN312RC From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 2680 posts, RR: 17
Reply 14, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1922 times:

not necessarily driving related, but make sure when crossing the street in England you look the opposite way for oncoming traffic as you would here.. its actually painted on the road. I almost got smashed when I went..


Fly Delta's Big Jets!
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54
Reply 15, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1917 times:

That's how we control the numbers of visiting tourists N312RC.  Big grin


She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineN312RC From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 2680 posts, RR: 17
Reply 16, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1914 times:

I dunno what would have been worse, a victim of a Vauxhall or a victim of the NHS!


Fly Delta's Big Jets!
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54
Reply 17, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1909 times:

Oh a Vauxhall, without question. You see, at one time the NHS was a beacon to the world, the very best at what they do. Now Vauxhall, on the other hand, have always been crap.  Big grin


She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineBobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 7
Reply 18, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1902 times:

It's pretty difficult to get fatal injuries from a collision with a Vauxhall.
The top speed is 30 mph (no km/h here!) and they're made of MDF.

Opel, on the other hand, are vastly superior. Of course.



Cunning linguist
User currently offlineAirJamPanAm From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 248 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1887 times:

If you have never driven on that side, and you just must drive in the UK, I suggest you have someone with you to remind you to GET OVER, when you make turns into the wrong lanes around corners etc.
The round a bouts will drive you batty as well.
I spend a lot of time in London every year, and I NEVER drive for all those reasons and more, and I grew up in the Caribbean where we still drive on the left.



Suing is the new Lotto... if u wanna win u gotta sue!
User currently offline2912n From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 2013 posts, RR: 8
Reply 20, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1884 times:

If you really want to get screwed up try Hertz's "Le Swap" program where you rent a rt hand drive in England, then take the Channel Tunnel over to Calais where you pick up a "normal" car...then on the way back you swap again. It got to the point where in France I was going the wrong way on their roundabouts and trying to shift with my left hand...YIKES!  Smile

Even my Brit friends try not to drive when going into London. Take the train in and then taxi or tube everywhere. Much easier!

And remember that the Brits are the best about giving road directions. I have seen grown men fight over who gave the best route somewhere!! (read the 1st chapter of Bill Bryson's "Notes from a small island" I thought he was kidding till I made my first trip over!)


User currently offlineArsenal@LHR From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 7792 posts, RR: 20
Reply 21, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks ago) and read 1881 times:
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If you're hiring a car, 9 times out of 10 it will be a manual transmission so unless you're prepared to declare war on the gearbox, hire a auto. Specially so in London, this place is choked with stop-start traffic with narrow roads. But once you get out of London into the quiet country lanes and suburbs, it can be a joy to drive. Don't let this put you off though, if you want test your driving skills, you're in the right country!  Big grin



In Arsene we trust!!
User currently offlineKYIPpilot From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 1383 posts, RR: 6
Reply 22, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1861 times:

Thanks Arsenal. I can drive a manual trans here in the states, but I don't think its worth shifting with my left and fighting with just for a week or less. I would try to reserve an auto trans. Plus, I don't plan on driving in London anyway, just in the country side, especially in Norwich.


"It starts when you're always afraid; You step out of line, the man come and take you away" -Buffalo Springfield
User currently offlineYbacpa From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 1108 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 1853 times:

I know the stearing wheel is on the right side also, but are the accelerator and brake pedals reversed also? Please fill me in with some general info.

If you are renting a car you can often request one with left-hand controls. Most of the larger renters, especially the US-based chains, have some in their fleet. You'll almost definately pay more for it though. Personally, though, I've found driving on the right side of the car to be more difficult than driving on the left side of the road.

Oh, and GET INSURANCE! Chances are your personal auto insurance doesn't cover you over there, and credit card insurance is iffy at best.



SkyTeam: The alliance for third rate airlines finally getting their act together!
User currently offlineBobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 7
Reply 24, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 1842 times:

Insurance? Don't worry about that.

The rental co can make lots of money on insurance... they'll be sure to offer you some. ISTR it's illegal for them to let you drive off the forecourt without the minimum insurance requirement (IE third-party) anyway.



Cunning linguist
25 Bhill : The Brits arent that screwed up??...Whatta 'bout King Dick and Whitworth? ;-}...just foolin...I have an MG Cheers, Bob
26 Silverfox : Driving around Norwich Watch out for the mountain passes! And it might be a good idea if, when you arrive, to get a listee who lives near the airport
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