If you’re looking at the car hire UK options available to you before heading to the country on holiday, there will be several things you will want to consider.
Renting a car is perfect if you want to go exploring and can certainly give you a sense of independence, but as you compare cheap car hire you should be aware that the experience of driving in Britain is likely to be different to what you are used to back home.
The main distinction is likely to be the fact UK motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road, something which sets them apart from many other countries, including the US, France and Spain.
For this reason, you will also find that the driver’s seat on British cars is on the right – as opposed to the left – of the vehicle. This means shifting gears, applying the handbrake and changing radio stations will all have to be done with your left hand, although you may be used to doing this with your right.
Such differences are particularly apparent when it comes to navigating roundabouts. Unlike countries where motorists drive on the other side of the road, UK roundabouts mean that traffic approaching from the right has the right of way, so you will need to look in this direction before entering.
Some roundabouts use traffic signals to guide you as to when you can enter, although others may not. Traffic goes in a clockwise direction and when it comes to exiting, you will need to be in the farthest lane to your left.
Be sure to indicate in plenty of time so that other motorists are aware of what you are doing, leaving it late before signalling – or not doing so at all – can frustrate other road users.
However, driving on the left may not be the only change you encounter while on UK roads. You may also find some of the traffic terminology used is different. Instead of going to a gas station to fill up on fuel, British drivers go to a petrol station. They also refer to the rear storage part of a car as the boot, rather than the trunk.
While driving in the UK it is the law that you have to wear your seatbelt and using a mobile phone is also illegal, so make you do not fall foul of these regulations.
As a general rule, it is seen as impolite to drive too close behind another vehicle or to honk your horn excessively, so try to avoid doing this. It is also customary to give thanks to a driver who has allowed you the right of way – be it a quick flash of your lights or a simple wave.
You may also have to contend with different parking rules compared to the ones you have in your home country. It is illegal to park on any road that has been marked with double yellow lines. Doing so may result in a fine and see your car get clamped. Similarly, it is also illegal to park in areas that have been marked with a circular sign containing a cross or diagonal line inside it.
Driving on the left-hand side and getting used to other UK driving customs and practices can at first be daunting, but with a little time and patience you can soon master it and explore Britain to your heart’s content