Driving in the UK: Top Tips and Tricks for Visitors and New Drivers

Whether you’re visiting the UK on holiday or you’re learning to drive, getting to know the driving laws and the regulations in place will help you to stay safe on the roads. From understanding the speed limits to knowing what boundaries are in place, we’ve provided a handy guide that will show you all of the handy things you need to know when driving around the roads of the UK.

Familiarising yourself with all of these things before you take to the road will help you to understand the rules of UK roads and could also help to prevent any accidents. However, if you do find that you’re involved in any kind of bump or crash, always consult an expert solicitor firm like Slater & Gordon for guidance when making your claim.

Speed Limits

You will be appropriately warned of the speed limits on the roads but there are general rules as to what speed limit is in place in what area. For built up areas you will generally find a speed limit of 30mph (48kmph); 60mph (96kmph) on single carriageways or country roads (this can sometimes be 50mph too) and 70mph (112kmph) on motorways. Sometimes the speed limit will be reduced in designated areas, i.e. outside schools or hospitals where they can be 20mph (32kmph), 10mph (16kmph) or even 5mph (8kmph).

Speed cameras may be situated on the roads but drivers are generally notified of their presence before with a sign of a camera; unless it is a handheld device used by police in certain accident blackspots / prime speeding areas.

Seat Belt Laws

It is required that everyone in a car wears a seat belt and fines of up to £500 are in place for anyone who isn’t. The driver is responsible for making sure anyone under 16 is wearing a seat belt but anyone over this age is responsible for themselves and will be fined accordingly.

Driving a car at night - young man driving her car

Drink Driving Laws

80mg per 100ml of blood is the alcohol limit for drivers in the UK. Anyone found to exceed this limit could face fines of up to £5,000 with prison penalties of up to 6 months. Drivers will also be banned from driving for at least 1 year.

Important Documents

If you’re travelling to the UK, you’ll need your driving licence and passport in order to hire a car. While it isn’t necessary to have your licence with you in the car, the police will ask to see this if you are pulled over. If you aren’t able to present it to them, you will have to take this to the local police station for it to be checked. You may also be asked to provide valid insurance details and proof of ownership.

Additional Pointers

Other things to remember are that drivers have to be aged 17 or over in order to drive in the UK but that most car hire companies will need you to be over 25 in order to hire a car there. You’re not permitted to use a mobile phone while driving and anyone caught doing so may be given an on-the-spot fine.

Evie Bevan is a driving instructor, a job she started a couple of years ago. When she finds herself with nothing else to do, she often takes pen to paper (or keyboard to tablet!) and writes driving articles.