Roads in the UK are generally well maintained with a wide variety of cars using them. Driving is done in the left-hand lane, unlike other EU countries and many others who drive on the right. Generally speaking, two lane highways where both lanes share the same direction of travel are referred to as Dual carriageways. three or more lane roads sharing the same direction of travel are referred to as Motorways. There are a variety of single carriageway roads known as A roads or B roads. The main difference between the two is that A roads will generally be busier routes than B roads, and more emphasis is placed on the maintenance of these roads. Using mobiles or other hand-held devices while driving is illegal in the UK. The minimum age for driving in the UK is 17 years.
All roads will have signs indicating what the speed limit is when joining that road. As a general rule, speeds must not exceed 30 MPH (48 KPH) in built up areas. On A and B roads not in built up areas the maximum speed will normally be 60 MPH (96 KPH). On dual carriageways and motorways, the speed limit is 70 MPH (112 KPH) Lower speed limits apply in some instances and these will be made clear road by road. Different limits apply to vehicles towing a caravan or trailer. All speed limits are upper limits and speed should be adjusted downward depending on road conditions. There are no roads in the UK where it is legal to travel at more than 70 MPH (112 KPH).
Before driving on any UK roads, motorists must ensure they have a valid licence which permits them to drive in the UK. In general, this means that drivers must hold a full driving licence or permit from their own country. Provisional driving licences issued in other countries cannot be used to drive in the UK. Motorists from EC countries and other approved countries may exchange their licence for a full UK licence. It is only permitted for holders of licences from other countries to use those licences on UK roads for a maximum of 12 months after coming to the UK.
Insurance requirements and use of foreign registered vehicles
People who are coming to the UK from another country and bringing their vehicle with them must observe some complex rules and regulations. To summarise these, any such vehicles may only be used on UK roads for a maximum of 6 months before they must be re-registered with the DVLA. The registration certificate from the country of origin must be carried within the vehicle at all times and the driver must be able to prove that the vehicle has been in the UK for less than 6 months. The registration number must be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle, along with an accompanying sign indicating the country of registration. Vehicles must be in a roadworthy condition. Relevant insurance which covers the vehicle and drivers as well as third party risks must be in force. Where a foreign licence is being used to drive a UK registered vehicle, then drivers must be named on the UK insurance policy covering that vehicle. Insurance is compulsory and penalties for driving without insurance are harsh.
- A single yellow line on the left-hand edge of the carriageway indicates that restrictions are in place. Signs will explain the restrictions and hours they apply to. Passengers may be dropped off, but the driver must remain in the vehicle at all times.
- A double yellow line indicates no parking at any time.
- A single red line indicates no parking at certain times, and again signs at the side of the road will explain when the restrictions apply.
- A double red line indicates no parking or stopping at any time.
Off street parking should be used when available. If parking on a road, then the following rules should be observed:
- Park facing direction of travel, never against the flow of traffic
- Stop and park as close to the kerb as possible
- Use designated parking bays when they are available.
Drivers must NOT stop or park:
- On the motorway at any time, or on the hard shoulder except in an emergency
- On a pedestrian crossing
- On a clearway
- In taxi bays
- In tram, bus or cycle lanes.
It is advised that drivers who are unfamiliar with the UK road system should read the highway code prior to driving in order to stay safe and to stay on the right side of the law. Road traffic law in the UK is far more strict than in many other countries and it is enforced vigorously by the Police who will not hesitate to issue relevant penalties to anyone not following the rules and regulations. By far the most important rule is to observe the earlier section on insurance otherwise uninsured motorists without the appropriate cover for third party risks face the prospect of losing their vehicle.
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