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Driving in the UK: Tips for Visitors

Here at Avis Prestige, we are huge fans of the self-drive road trips when travelling. We feel it's the best way to see the UK! Regardless if you're planning a Scottish road trip or scenic drives through the countryside, the best way to experience this beautiful land is by car.

uk car rental

In an effort to make visitors more comfortable when driving in the UK, we have compiled some of our top tips for drivers. And remember, relax, use your sat-nav as provided in all Avis Prestige car hires, build in extra time to mitigate any wrong turns and enjoy the views.

1. Driving on the left-hand side of the road

For many visitors to the UK, this is a new and slightly off-putting experience as you might feel a bit disoriented at first. However, rest assured, you will get used to driving on the opposite side of the road very quickly. Remember, oncoming traffic should always be on your right-hand side.

2. Road Types in the UK

The UK has a number of road types which are denoted by a lettering system. A road will have a letter to indicate its type, as well as a number which is unique to that road.

- ‘M’ roads are motorways with speed limits of 70 miles per hour. However, be aware of roadworks and speed signs, as the speed on the motorway can be reduced significantly

- ‘A’ roads are main roads and the speed limit tends to be 60 miles per hour unless otherwise indicated.

- ‘B’ roads are a smaller road, usually linked to the ‘A’ road.

- ‘C’, ‘D’ and other roads – smaller roads, often single-track and in more rural areas.

3. Roundabouts in the UK 

Roundabouts are very common across the UK, however for drivers who aren’t used to them they can seem a bit complicated. Remember, you will always give way to the traffic on a roundabout, which will be approaching from your right. You will always turn left and traverse it in a clockwise direction. The only exception is if the roundabout has traffic lights, in which case you have the right of way if the light is green. 

4. Single Track Roads

For much of the UK, particularly in more rural and remote areas, you may find yourself driving on a single-track road. If a car is approaching in the opposite direction, safely pull over in a passing place on the correct side of the road to allow the car to pass you and drive on at a safe distance.

5. Traffic Lights

Like nearly every country, the UK uses traffic lights to control traffic. Red means stop, yellow means come to a stop and green means proceed. However, for our American friends, you might be used to turning right at a traffic light, even if it’s red. This is NOT allowed in the UK  - if the traffic light is red, you must remain stationary until the light turns green. 

Hiring a Vehicle with Avis Prestige 

All UK car hire companies have different rules and restrictions for UK drivers so best check beforehand. Here at Avis Prestige we require a valid driver’s license held for at least two years in addition to another form of identity (such as a passport).  We also have a minimum age limit, details of which are found alongside the description of the cars on our website. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our reservation team to learn more.

*Please note this blog is for guidance only and should not be taken for legal advice. Always check road regulations and local laws in the UK before driving to be sure you are safe and legal as laws and guidelines change regularly. View the official Highway Code.

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