Driving in Britain

Don’t Worry about Driving in Britain – 50 million Brits do it and if we can, anybody can!  There are just a few things which we might do a little differently to your own country, so here are some tips to make your driving experience more enjoyable.

Driving on The Left

In Scotland, England and Wales we drive on the Left side of the road. If you come from one of the other 74 countries that drive on the left like Australia, Thailand, India or South Africa you will be used to this.

If you come from one of the other 165 countries, including almost all of Europe and the whole of North America, you will be used to driving on the right hand side of the road.

Here are some tips for helping you drive on the correct side of the road, but the first tip is the most important!!

ALWAYS think about what you are going to do, before you start your drive.

EVERY time you get in the car, whether you have just started for the day, or you had stopped for lunch, or to take a photo, or to just look at the beautiful view, ALWAYS think before re-starting your journey, again. DRIVE ON THE LEFT SIDE.

Suggestion – Cut out a small arrow (10 cm {4 inches} long should do) and fix it to the dashboard in front of the steering wheel pointing to the LEFT. You should see it every time you start to drive. That is the most important time as you are unlikely to switch sides while you are driving.


At many road junctions, roundabouts replace traffic lights and priorities are different.  Roundabouts are designed to make the traffic flow more smoothly.  It is a simple system, though it may look a little difficult at first. The rules are:-

Cars on the roundabout have priority over cars joining the roundabout.

Give way to cars coming from your right (they will be the cars on the roundabout).

All traffic goes round the roundabout in a clock-wise direction.

What to do – Slow down as you approach the roundabout.  If there is a gap where you can safely drive and join the traffic on the roundabout, do this.  Start to indicate for the road you are coming off the roundabout as you pass the road before yours.  Drive off.

Single Track Roads

This is the thing most visitors driving in Scotland particularly worry about. Again, the most important thing to do is to THINK.

Most of the roads in Scotland (probably over 90%) are not Single Track roads. They are normal 2 or 4 or, sometimes, even 6 lane roads. The areas where you will find most of the single track roads are the remote areas where less people live. Less roads are therefore needed and there is less traffic. This includes the North and North West of Scotland and on many of the islands.

Single Track roads are NOT wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass and they are not meant to have 2 cars on them at the same time. The answer to this, is to have passing places every 100 or 200 metres along the road.

The car that reaches the passing place first, pulls in to the left and lets the car coming the other way, pass. Usually, it is easy to tell who is going to reach the passing place first, so that driver will flash their headlights to indicate they are letting the other car pass. Generally, Scottish drivers are very courteous.

The passing place will only be on one side of the road, or the other, generally not on both sides. Only ever pull into the passing place when the gap is on your left. If you reach the passing place first and the gap is on the right, then stop in the road and the oncoming car will pass you by slipping into the passing place and out again.

Finally, do not park in a passing place. It makes it very difficult to use the space for passing traffic if someone has parked in it.

It is as simple as that. The road is NOT wide enough for two cars to pass, but it is easily wide enough to have full size coaches or large delivery trucks drive on the road. So, do not worry whether your car will fit on the single-track roads, they are built for buses and coaches to manage, so your rental car will fit easily!

Sheep (and other animals)

In many of the remote parts of Scotland and Wales, sheep and cattle are left to wander freely across moors and hillsides. There are no fences or walls alongside roads, so you will sometimes find these animals on the road. Drive carefully, just in case you suddenly meet them.

At night, the road surface retains the heat of the day, so animals often lie on the road for extra warmth. If you are driving in the remote areas at night, please take extreme care. Often the first thing you will see, are two shining dots of eyes reflecting the car headlights.

You will often see deer on the roads in remote areas. This usually happens in Winter as the deer come down off the high mountains, looking for better grazing at lower levels, where there are roads. However, in some areas, deer are often found in low lying areas all year round!

Warning – Hitting an animal with a car will do severe damage to the animal, as you might expect. Hitting a LARGE animal, like a highland cow or a red deer stag, can also do a great deal of damage to your car and possibly YOU!!

Liability – If you hit a domestic animal, you need to report it to the police and pay the owner of the animal compensation up to the full value of the animal. This applies on roads were there are signs warning of animals possibly being on the road. Most areas of single track road are also areas where animals roam free. If the roads are ones where you would not expect to find animals, then the owner may be liable to pay for damage to the car, as their animal may have escaped. This does not apply to deer or other wild animals.

That is it but please also remember……

Do NOT drink and drive! The drink drive limit varies across the UK but it is very low in all countries. It’s best not to drink at all if you will be driving.

Always keep to the Speed Limits! They should be shown everywhere and are in miles per hour.

To tell you all you need to know about driving in Scotland and the rest of the UK, watch this simple video from the Scottish Tourist Board – #VisitScotland –