- a thematic guide to Britain
Britain, drive on the left !!
IN THE UNITED KINGDOM - for visitors
In Britain - as everyone knows - cars
drive on the left! Actually, this is
not as strange as people in some other parts sometimes imagine:
traffic drives on the left in several countries, including Japan,
India, South Africa, Indonesia, and others. But in Europe, since Sweden
moved over to the right in 1967, Britain and Ireland remain the only
where vehicles do not drive on the right. And this is not going to
change; the cost would be prohibitive.
on the left
is much less difficult than one might think,
a country like Britain where the roads are busy. Many major roads are
carriageways or divided highways, and there are so many roadsigns that
it is hard to go wrong. On country roads, signs are normally clear, and
areas, it is generally just a question of following the car in front of
in Britain at the best rates
a) You come to
the end of a one-way street, and then get into the
right lane because you are going to turn right. Take great care if you
are turning into a two-way road: do not forget to
over to the left of the road, otherwise you will find yourself on the
wrong side of the road. And this is very dangerous. If you then find
yourself facing a car coming in the opposite direction, it is easy to
panic and let your instincts take over... , making you do the
opposite of what you should do. You may instinctively pull
to the right, because that is your instinctive reaction, instead of
moving to the left.
b) On narrow country roads, bordered by hedges and greenery, you
may go round a blind bend and find yourself face to face with a vehicle
coming in the opposite direction. Your reflexes may make you pull over
to the right, whereas you should be doing the opposite !
c) Speed limits in Britain
These are indicated in miles per
hour (mph), and not in km / h. Do not exceed the speed limit! There
are speed cameras everywhere, and police in the UK can easily pull you
over for speeding. Speeding tickets can be transmitted between
countries, and will certainly follow you home if you are
caught speeding in a
Beware especially of Average
in Britain: these are cameras that record
plate numbers as they enter a zone, and again as they leave it; they
are part of the motorway landscape, especially on stretches where there
Everyone respects the limitations, which are often 50 mph or 80 km / h.
The usual limit in built-up areas is 30 mph (about 50 km /
or 40 mph on main urban highways; but there are specific speed limits
in some places, so the best advice is to just watch the speed
restriction signs. The maximum speed on dual-carriageways (divided
highways) and motorways is 70 mph (112 km / h) for cars without
trailers or 60 mph when towing a caravan or trailer.
speed limits converted into km/h.
speed in km/hr
/ built-up area
carriageways and motorways
towing a trailer
||96 on dual
(trucks) over 7.5 tonnes
the instructions indicated by signs and yellow lines along the street.
Double yellow lines mean no parking at any time. Single yellow lines
mean no parking at certain times, usually on weekdays during the day.
Specific information is provided on small panels. If you park in the
wrong place, you risk a hefty fine or may even find your car impounded
or immobilized by a wheel-clamp.
Britain, these turn from red to amber (orange) then green, and not
directly from red to green. Don't start off on the amber light, you
could receive a heavy fine.... or cause an accident.
already circulating around a roundabout always has priority, except
for a few
rare cases. In some places, intersections are decorated with
multi-roundabouts, collections of small roundabouts around a large
roundabout .... It can be a bit confusing, and even the
often struggle to get used to these.
are free apart from one duplicated section of the M6 north of
Birmingham on which there is a toll. Several major bridges have tolls.
This includes the Dartford river crossing on the London orbital
motorway. Take care: toll gates here only take cash..... Euro
notes are accepted (if you do not have any British money), and change
is given in sterling.
In Autumn 2014, the Dartford crossing is introducing a "freeflow"
system. The toll booths will disappear, and drivers must pay by phone
or online. This is sure to cause confusion and chaos for passing
tourists, even British tourists.
Main British motorways can be very busy; this is
the case for the M1, M6, M25 (London orbital) and the M4 motorways, and
all peri-urban motorways during peak periods.
up with petrol (gasolene) and other checks.
is sold in litres, not in gallons... which is a relief for North
American visitors, since British gallons and American gallons were not
the same anyway.
But if you inflate your tires in
England, take care, the devices are sometimes calibrated in PSI (pounds
per square inch ), not bars : 1 bar = 14.5 psi.
of gasoline is considerably higher than in the USA, and slightly higher
than in neighbouring European countries. Diesel fuel is certainly more
expensive than in France or Belgium.
Prices at the pump are cheaper in supermarkets like ASDA, Tesco or
Sainsbury, and more expensive on motorways.
you are coming to Britain at the wheel of a vehicle insured in another
country of the European Union, your insurance is automatically valid in
Britain. However the guarantees / cover may not be the same. Automatic
pan-European vehicle insurance covers third-party risks (the damage you
may do to someone else's vehicle or property) ; it does not necessarily
cover damage to your own vehicle. You should check this out
your insurance company in your country of origin, before coming the the
Don't plan to drive into Central London
apart from the fact that parking is very difficult and expensive,
Central London is a "charge zone". The charge is £10 or
£12 a day,
depending on whether you pay in advance or not.
If you need to come into Central London with a vehicle, you
can pay online on the website of Transport
up to 90 days in advance, on the day you travel or
the next day: if you don't you risk a fine of £130.
Congestion Charge can also be paid by telephone on +44 (0)845 900 1234
- but this is not recommended unless you are quite happy using a
telephone pay service in English. Telephone pay services work with a
string of options to put in on your keypad, and the process can take
ages, speically if you make a mistake.
Otherwise, use public transport. See London travel for visitors