Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Three Tips for Driving in the U.K., by Paul

Speed limit sign

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a subsitute for actual driving instruction in the U.K. Just in case you were considering it.

So we're embarking quite soon on our adventures with American visitors during this, our last Scottish summer.  Most are going to rent (ahem, hire) cars for some portion of their visit, so here are a few tips from Paul, the licensed U.K. driver.

Tip 1: The centre line should always be to your right. It will feel strange because you will be driving from the wrong side of the car, but if the centre line is to your right, you're OK.  Being aware of the centre line also may minimise youe chances of sideswiping parked cars on the side of the road.

One side note about those parked cars...if you're coming up a road that is, in theory, two lanes, but there are parked cars reducing it to one lane, look at which direction most the cars are facing.  If they're going the same direction as you, you should yield to oncoming traffic.  

Tip 2: Roundabouts are everywhere, so it's good to know how to drive through one. Stay to the left to go around the roundabout, even if you are turning right. The link below to the UK drivers Learners Guide offers quite a helpful quick guide to which lane you should be in coming into a roundabout, depending upong where you want to exit. The section is called, in a very British fashion, "Lane Discipline." Basiclally, look at the road to get guidance on which lane to be in (i.e., if you're going to Dundee, one of the lanes might actually have Dundee, or some abbreviation thereof, painted in it), and follow the rule of thumb that if you're turning right (taking the the third exit off the roundabout) you should stay in the inside lane, and signal your intentions (paradoxically, signalling left as your approach your turnoff).

Roundabouts can be complicated so pay attention to these signs on approach to see which exit to take.
Tip 3: Speed Limits. Speed limits are actually fairly fast, especially as you start driving and realize how narrow some of  the 60 mph roads are. You can go 70 mph on the motorway, and 60 mph on most other roads. When you approach a village/town that has streetlamps, however, you need to slow to 30 mph (the circular sign at the top of the blog, with the red border, is a speed limit sign).

The national speed limit is 60 mph, and in addition to perhaps seeing a red-bordered sign saying 60 to indicate that, you might also see this, which indicates the beginning of the national speed limit.

National Speed Limit sign (60 mph)
It's uncertain why rule-makers in the U.K. chose such a cryptic sign, but cheer up, you could be driving in Wales instead and not even be able to tell where you're going, thanks to Welsh spelling:

Welsh road sign
So happy driving in Scotland.  Despite some complicated roundabout signs, the general direction signs are quite vague, if somewhat might see a sign that gives the names of the two nearest towns, and then a helpful arrow pointing straight ahead, accompanied by the words, "To the North."  So, keep going North, and if you start seeing signs for Inverness and the A9, turn around and head back to Perth, where there is one roundabout to rule them all; you can go to any city in Scotland from it, including our lovely city of Dundee! 

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