Traveling to distant and different countries is always fun. However, there are extra considerations if you want to drive when visiting a country other than your own. Driving in the UK as an American is totally something you can do – if you can drive here, generally you can drive there. But when traveling driving changes overseas, you must be extra careful of how you drive. If you are traveling to the UK you should always learn the rules of driving and become aware of the style and habits of local drivers.
While most travelers rely on taxi’s to get around, driving yourself can offer more freedom while on vacation. As you discover your travel destination you will need to learn and adapt to their driving laws and habits. Be sure you familiarize yourself with any insurance requirements that you may need to avoid surprises while driving. Also keep in mind the UK uses kilometers, not miles.
Driving on the Left Side of the Road
When traveling to other countries such as the UK there are a few main points to remember when driving. The first point is the most shocking and the hardest to get used to. This is driving on the opposite side of the road. When you travel to the UK you must remember that they drive on the left hand side of the road. It seems very strange at first and can be quite difficult to become accustomed with, but in a few days and with a little practice you will find it easier.
Once you arrive in the UK you will notice that the cars are different models, makes, and styles. In the UK they do not sit on the left side of the car as we usually do, they sit on the right. When you are going to enter a vehicle and drive just remember that America’s passenger side is the UK’s driver side. This can be a bit difficult to get used to at first just because it seems strange to be sitting in what we assume as the passenger side while driving. Do not worry. Everyone has a little trouble at first and is a little cautious. Just relax and give it a few tries and soon you will be driving like a pro in a UK car.
The UK Road System
Also be aware of the traffic. If you are traveling from a smaller or larger city to the UK, either way it will be hard. There are roundabouts in the UK that are quite difficult for some people to grasp the concept of. You must remember that they are traveling the opposite way that you are used to.
Keep in mind that the style of drivers anywhere you travel to is going to be different than your own. It will take a while to become accustomed to the way they drive in the UK. You will also need to learn their form of roads. In the UK there is a system of roads called “A”, “B”, and “C” roads. This may be a bit different than where you are from. A “C” road is the smallest road and is more like a paved path. “B” roads are like common highways and are usually a bit faster than “C” roads, while “A” roads are the largest roads and by far the fastest travelled upon. Just remember to slow down on “C” roads and most of your troubles will be taken care of.
Driving in the UK with a US License
And make sure to find out whether you need an International Driving Permit. At the time of this writing, you do not, as long as your visit is less than 12 months and you have a valid driver’s license in your country of residence. If you’re visiting from the United States, and you have a valid US driver’s license, you can legally drive in the UK as well. Just be sure to study ahead so you know how rules there differ from those in the US.
Driving in different countries is always a bit of a stress. However, with a little planning and some safety precautions you will be driving like a local and be able to experience the entire city to its fullest. Don’t be worried or scared to drive in different places. It will be strange for a small amount of time, but after you become accustomed to the style and driving habits of the country, you will be doing just fine. Remember to be safe and have a fun time during your visit.