There are many different ways to travel around Britain, but using your own car may be the most comfortable and convenient. It allows you to set up your own itinerary and keep your own schedule. It’s also a good way to get to see the landscapes and the coastline which are some of the most breathtaking sites in the country.
It’s important, however, to make preparations and to plan out your trip at least loosely. That will make the trip easier and allow you to take plenty of stops and rest so that you’re safe and vigilant on the road.
Having the Proper Paperwork
Before you’re able to drive a car in Britain as a foreigner, you’ll need to obtain the UK international Drivers License. It’s issued based on the national permit from your own country and it doesn’t require any additional tests or exams.
The permit is valid for a year and there’s a small fee that you’ll need to cover in order to obtain it. It’s legally required to carry both this document and a national license with you if you want to drive abroad. The document is also required for renting a car. It doesn’t cover insurance so proof of having an insurance policy needs to be obtained separately.
Knowing How to Rent
If you’re over 18 and have the documents mentioned above, you can rent a car in Britain. It’s important to do your research and only rent from a reputable agency. The agency will also offer you an insurance policy and it’s always a good idea to take it, in case something goes wrong.
You may expect that the insurance policy is a bit costlier if you’re a new driver or if you’re below 25 years of age. It’s also important to note where the drop-off point is for the vehicle you’ve rented. It’s possible to rent a vehicle to be used for a one-way trip, but that’s more expensive.
What Do You Need To Know About the Roads?
There are few things foreigners should be aware of about the roads in Britain. Driving on the left is the most important tip and one that’s the most challenging to those who aren’t used to it. Some may also have a problem with using miles to measure distance, although that can be easily resolved by having a phone with you.
In most cases, cars come with a GPS but in some cases, you’ll need to pay for them separately. It may be worth your while since in some remote parts of the UK, your phone GPS won’t be available and you’ll need to rely on the one provided by the rental company.
The Road Signs and What to Do Colors Stand For
The signs themselves are the same as in the rest of Europe. They are straightforward and easy enough to understand, but you can always look them up online if a particular sign confuses you. Colors used to mark the signs are more of a challenge for foreigners since they aren’t that intuitive.
Blue signs are there for motorways; the green signs are therefore major routes. Smaller routes use white signs, and brown signs indicate a place of interest for the tourists. Warning signs are red and white so that they are easier to notice.
Traffic Laws in the UK
Traffic laws apply to those who drive with an international permit as well. For the most part, there’s a speed limit of 20-40 miles per hour in built-up areas and a 70 mile per hour limit on the highway. There are also many other limits depending on where you are and the signs will indicate the limit you should be aware of.
Wearing seatbelts is mandatory and children under 12 need to have car seats unless they are over 135 cm tall. It’s not allowed to drink and drive and there’s no lower limit of blood alcohol that’s allowed, while on the road.
What To Do if There’s an Accident?
If you’re in an accident you’re legally required to stop and pull over regardless of how severe the accident is. You’ll also need to provide your personal information and documents to the proper authorities when they arrive.
There are a few emergency services that can help you out if your car has been in an accident or if it simply breaks down. However, most hire car agencies have their own service that you can call and that information will be provided to you when you first rent the vehicle.
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