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England Travel Tips 
Discover the Real England   

      

   

  By Mike Valeriani
   
 
Regions: N West N East Yorkshire W Midlands E Midlands East S West S East

Driving in England

 

The very first notable diversity is that people here drive on the wrong side of the road... or as they put it with a pinch of British humour... “you drive on the right side of the road; we drive on the correct side of the road”.

Driving on the left side of the road might seem to be strange to you and a thing reserved to crazy people, but it is just as strange to as much as one third of the world’s population that drives on the left, that you drive on the right side of the road. See the map below to understand how different is the world in this regard.

 

Driving standards world map drive left right

 

  • Red: Traffic moves on the right side of the road. 
  • Orange: Originally traffic moved on the left side of the road, but now it moves on the right. 
  • Blue: Traffic moves on the left side of the road. 
  • Purple: Originally traffic moved on the right side of the road, but now it moves on the left. 
  • Green: Once had different rules (depending on one's location), but now traffic moves on the right side of the road. 

 

Driving in the opposite side of the road that you are used to can be very uncomfortable and dangerous. The danger is in the fact that nothing happens when you are fully alert at the beginning of your experience; instead it all happens later on when you will be confident and relaxed... and it all comes at once, often with devastating consequences. Many people choose not to drive at all in the UK.

The very first time I drove a car with the driving seat on the right, I nearly crashed the left side of the car against a wall after about 20 feet. When you are used to driving a vehicle with the driver’s seat on the left, you unconsciously know that the space you occupy ends at about a foot on the left; you need to re-teach your brain how much room you will take and where.

It’s more or less like learning to drive a bus: bigger and different. Because of this reason, particular attention must be given when overtaking cyclists; give as much room to a bicycle as you would give to a car. The one thing you must do on the road here is to respect all the rules and limitations. They are there for a reason and you not being familiar with anything – including the practical aspect of driving – it would be very dangerous and foolish not to do so. Enough said about driving.

 

The Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout road signThe Roundabout is an English invention, with the very first one built in 1909. It is a great idea for small and medium traffic junctions, but it becomes a poor solution at very busy junctions, as traffic will build up considerably at busy times, especially when they are equipped with traffic lights all around. The real strength of the roundabout is safety. They dramatically reduce accidents, injuries and deaths at road junctions, due to the necessity to slow down to a virtual stop.

Like in everything, there are extremes. Some crazy people thought of turning the city of Milton Keynes into a roundabout city. This is by far the city in the world with most roundabouts, having in excess of 1000 of them... and it’s a small city. The left tires of Milton Keynes buses have the thread that is two millimetres shorter than the right tires... that’s how many roundabouts there are.

All roundabouts in Britain were happily enjoying the spinning traffic, till some psychopath came along and thought once again: “why keep things simple when you can make them effortlessly more complicated?” Before long the “Magic Roundabout” was born.

Aerial photograph of the Magic Roundabout

It’s more or less a nightmare, because when you get there you don’t really know what to do or where to go. Once you get familiar with it you’ll be all right, but considering the extremely limited number of them (two or three in the whole country) you can easily guess how many people panic every day on one of these “Magic Roundabouts”.

It’s basically a large roundabout with many smaller roundabouts all around. I still have to understand the utility of such a thing, other than for amusement.

 

Near Side and Far Side...

Left and right signs.There are times in which simple things, such as the left and the right can be very complicated and confusing. Once a driving instructor told me that on the road “left” and “right” should be banned as most people use the terms “near side” and “far side”... from the kerb that is.

Wonder who were those crazy people that invented left and right!

 

 

 

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