Home to the Big Ben the Stonehenge, England is a country with a rich heritage and many well-preserved historical sites. Since the United Kingdom as a whole is the 11th largest country in Europe, many travelers decide to rent cars so they can travel through this western European country on their own accord. Renting a car lets you visit sites off the beaten path and takes away the headaches the come with taking public transportation or using ride-sharing applications. While it might be difficult to drive in mega-cities such as London, most tourists don’t run into any problems as long as they take normal safety precautions. When it comes to renting a vehicle, you don’t need a high budget to be able to afford it. There are many economical options available that will get the job done. If you plan on driving in England, it’s crucial that you’re well-prepared and know what to expect. Here are six things you need to know before renting a car in England:
They Drive on the Left Side of the Road
The biggest difference between driving in the North America or mainland Europe and the England is that in England, the traffic is left hand. This is the biggest hurdle that foreigners have to overcome when they drive in England. It’s almost an instinct for people to turn right or left, depending on the country they come from. Since the English drive on the left-hand side of the road, the steering wheel is on the right and not the left like in the United States. For someone who has never driven on the left before, the best advice is to start out in a parking lot or in a residential area before trying to conquer the streets of London. In addition to putting in some practice, you’ll also want to rent a car this is comfortable to drive. An automatic transmission is the best choice because it’s a lot easier to operate than a manual. Don’t get freaked out by the foreign flow of traffic and take your time to adjust.
Renting a Car in England with US License
Some travelers aren’t aware that you can legally drive in England with a driver’s license from the United States. The government has an online tool you can use to verify your eligibility to drive in England. If you passed a driver test in your home country, you can drive a small vehicle or motorcycle for up to 12 months. Even though renting a car in England as an American is a breeze, it’s still vital to familiarize yourself with English road laws and to always keep your driver’s licence with you in the vehicle. You can find the United Kingdom’s official Highway Code on their website and read more about speed limits, seat belt laws, and so forth.
England Uses a Different Measurement System
If you’re traveling from the United States, it will take a little bit of time to get adjusted to the imperial system. Believe it or not, the United States is one of only three countries that use the metric system. With that said, the speed limit appears in kilometers per hour both on the car’s dashboard and on the road signs. In addition to the speed limit, signs that indicate distance will use kilometers and not miles. For example, if you’re 60 miles away from your destination, the sign will read 96 kilometers.
You’ll See Things Not Common in the USA
Aside from the opposite flow of traffic, English roads have characteristics not common North America. One of the biggest differences is that there are many roundabouts in England. Before entering a roundabout, you need to yield to any oncoming traffic. In addition, England has different speed limits depending on the vehicle. For example, car towing a trailer can only drive 60mph on a motorway where a regular car can drive 70mph. These differential speed limits are indicted by a “NSL” sign.
Car Insurance is Vital
Before renting a car in any foreign country you should check and see if you’re auto insurance will still cover you. United Kingdom law mandates that you have car insurance if you drive a vehicle on English roads. While you can usually buy coverage from the car rental company itself, you can also buy a policy from a number of online insurance brokers. This coverage will protect you if you get into an accident or if the car gets vandalized.
Finding a Car to Rent
Provided that you have a valid driver’s licence and auto insurance, the next step is to book a rental car in England. With a mobile app or car rental website, you can find an affordable car rental in England. Make sure to book in advance so you can find the car that suits you best. After familiarizing yourself with English traffic flow and road laws, you’ll be driving like a native in no time.