Driving isn’t essential in the UK if you live in a big city given that public transport connects places well. However, if you live in the middle of nowhere or don’t want to break the bank with public transport, driving may well be the best option!
Around 75% of adults aged 17 and over hold a valid driving licence in the UK. In order to get a driving licence here in the UK, you must follow the three-step process.
First you must apply for a provisional driving licence. This simply requires your personal data, a small fee and a declaration of your eyesight. You can apply for this licence when you are 17 years old. Now you can get in a car and drive with supervision and with L plates. Step two is the theory test, where you must learn the Highway Code then pass the test at a driving centre. The final step is the practical test with a driving examiner and then, finally, you can drive alone.
Driving laws are very strict in the UK and you can easily get fined, have points added to your licence or even go to jail for breaking these driving laws. You must always wear a seatbelt, you cannot use your phone while driving and you’ll often find numerous speed cameras or police vans hiding along motorways or dual carriageways to ensure you’re not exceeding the speech limit.
In terms of drink driving, there are different regulations across the different British countries but we don’t have a zero tolerance policy. In England, the maximum is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.
We also have strict rules for driving with children. Children that are under 135cm tall must always use a car seat and only certain types of car seats are approved here in the UK.
Owning a car can be relatively expensive in the UK, not just because of increasing petrol prices but because of all the “extras” too – you must have a valid MOT certificate for your car, you must pay for car insurance and your annual vehicle tax too.
Fun Facts About Driving In The UK
Speed limits are shown in miles per hour (MPH)
Most roads are numbered and lettered. M means motorway (speed limit of 70mph), A means A-road (speed limit of 60 or 70mph) and B means B-road
Seat belts are legal for all passengers – even in a taxi!
Zebra crossings have priority – you really need to stop to let the pedestrians cross
We put the fuel in the car ourselves – use the nozzles at the petrol station to fill up the car then go to the cashier and state the name of the pump to pay
There aren’t many tolls – only 23 roads in the UK have tolls so you probably won’t have to pay anything extra to drive. Having said that, cities like London may charge a congestion charge to be paid daily for driving around.
What about renting a car?
Renting a car in the UK can be a bit complicated. Despite having a valid driving licence (in English), rental companies may well reject drivers that are younger than 25 years old. It’s also highly likely you’ll need to apply for an international driver’s permit before landing in the UK. Each rental company has their own set of rules and additional payments, so just check before you sign a contract!