Traveling by car is a great way to see the British Isles at your own pace. However, driving in Britain may present travelers with some unexpected challenges. Study the factors below to prevent unpleasant surprises.
On average, the United Kingdom gets 133 days of rain per year. You will likely be driving in rain or drizzle for part of your trip. If the rain gets heavy, look for a turnout and pull over until visibility improves. While roads in the British Isles are designed to shed water, the risk of hydroplaning and flooding are present. Do your best to drive slowly, and avoid driving into flooded areas.
If you can’t drive a standard or stick, be sure to request an automatic transmission when you reserve your car. Young drivers learn to manage a standard transmission in the UK, and it’s the most common form of transmission in the rental market.
Driving laws in the UK include approval of U-turns and the right of way of livestock. If you’re traveling down a country lane and you notice manure, keep an eye out for sheep in order to avoid an accident. In addition, roads in the British Isles are often populated with wild animals, including deer, hedgehogs, badgers and otters. It’s important to inspect your car before traveling long distances. If you notice a light on the dash or a squeak in the braking system, it may impact your safety, so be sure to reconnect with the car rental company if you notice something wrong.
Many country lanes are quite narrow and may only allow space for one car at a time. There are pull-off lanes available, so if you see another car coming, be prepared to pull off the road and wait for them to pass. Also be aware that you may wind up behind a slow farm vehicle. Your options for getting around such a vehicle will be very limited. It’s best to be patient and enjoy the landscape.
Driving through the British Isles does not mean you can quickly hop onto a four-lane highway with plenty of passing options. Country lanes are quite narrow and will require careful attention and patience to give up your right of way. Leave plenty of time in your schedule for a bit of sightseeing as you travel. Once you adapt to the circumstances and driving on the left, you’ll be charmed by the scenery and the people you meet.
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