Everything you need to know, and didn't think you needed to know
Drive (verb): to operate and control the direction and speed of a motor vehicle (oxford). With such a succinct definition, you would think that driving was a simple task. However, throw in people not indicating when they are turning, tailgaters and the lack of international agreeance on whether driving should be done on the left or right, and what you have is a pretty complex task! Fear not, I am here to give you a detailed breakdown of the types of driver you may find, tips for driving on the other side of the road and a whistle-stop run through of some UK driving laws to look out for. Read this and your journey with Virtuo will be as simple as defining the word drive.
The types of drivers you need to know
First, I’ll break down the types of drivers you may find so you can get clued up as to who to watch out for. If you’re from the UK and can’t work out which one is you, then you should probably ask your mates.
- The Formula 1 Driver
- Driving for this person isn't just to get from A to B, its a race. Every traffic light is an opportunity to test their racing start and in their mind, the country roads down in Sussex should be renamed the circuit de Sussex. Don’t be this person.
- The DJ
- This person thinks they are being kind, they are simply sharing their music for you to enjoy... at unnecessarily high volume levels. One day they will realise that every car has some form of audio capability and we don't need to hear their tunes.
- The Instructor
- This person thinks that passing your driving test isn’t good enough. If you are in their car you must listen to how any mistake is another drivers fault and if you are lucky enough to have them in your car, you must listen to their pearls of wisdom and be grateful for the free lesson.
- The Thinker
- For me, the perfect driver; calm, rational and controlled. Nothing gets this person phased, they take everything in their stride and make logical decisions in response to hazards, bad drivers and weather conditions. Be this person!
Tips for driving on the other side of the road
Driving in unknown territory (the other side of the road) is a daunting task and understandably so. The human brain is programmed to learn from experience, it uses this experience to inform and make decisions and so its no wonder that going against your learnt way of doing something isn't an easy task. However, you can do it! Use these tips and you’ll be comfortable with left or right
- Take city centres slow
- Tram stops, cyclists, buses... the list of hazards is endless, combined with being on your unnatural side the whole thing can be a challenge. By taking a city slow and steady you can reduce fuel consumption 20-48% (eartheasy), think of the money saved!
- Take the time to practice
- The perfect time to do this is when the traffic levels are low. The last thing you need is an angry impatient local speeding past you waving their hand. The best thing to do is go out early morning or late evening and get some practice in on the empty roads.
- Go easy on yourself
- If you mess up, fine. Don’t get yourself in a fit of anger at a mistake you made, it's natural to do so and much safer to simply laugh it off. In fact, on average 50% of drivers become aggressors behind the wheel (DriversEd). If you catch yourself getting frustrated try think of this article and smile to yourself, it's better than making a snap decision that could be costly.
- Put your co-driver to work
- This is a team effort. If you have the luxury of a friend or family on board with you, then take advantage of them. Let them be the direction giver, the sign reader and radio DJ. Minimise your distractions!
- Take roundabouts cautiously
- You might know these as traffic circles, rotunda, or rotary, in the UK we call them roundabouts. They can be pretty daunting for anyone driving on the left for the first time. Take them slowly and stay alert from approach to exit. They are designed and built specifically to increase safety!
The laws you need to know
Driving in the UK has been going on for over 100 years and a lot of laws have been created. In order to get you up to speed, below is a list of 5 that you might not know about.
- You can't let your dog hang out the window
- Although it might be one of the greatest sights known to man, your dog leaning out the window with their tongue out is actually illegal. Your dog should be secure and suitably restrained!
- You cannot drive significantly below the speed limit
- Driving over the speed limit is the most common road offence. However, were you aware that being significantly under the speed limit is also illegal? If the roads are wet then driving cautiously is recommended but don't go too slow or you are considered a risk to other drivers.
- Swearing and gesturing is an act of disorderly conduct
- Keep your emotions in check because if they get the better of you, you could be facing a penalty. Most people get angry while driving at some point in there lives, but stay calm and avoid any more frustration.
- You can't purposefully splash people
- This one is pretty easy to grasp. I’m sure you’ve seen a youtube video of some mean person driving through a puddle and making all those at the bus stop soaking wet. Now imagine that your the person at the bus stop, not fun, and neither will being fined for doing it.
- Your number plate must be clear and visible at all times
- Be careful if you go to the countryside and have to go down a muddy dirt track or if the weather is terrible and its sprayed up the back of your car. If your number plate is difficult to read you could face a significant penalty. The DVLA come down pretty harshly on this so be clued up.
Most importantly - enjoy it!
Driving in the UK is a joy, there are so many great places to go, people to see and great roads to drive on. Sure, it might not be your natural way to drive but once you’ve got your confidence be sure to take advantage of the island, there aren't many places where you can drive from one end to the other in just over 12 hours.