London is home to one of the most complex public transport systems in the world. With underground, over ground and national rail services running alongside 700 different bus routes, it’s now easier than ever to get around London without your own vehicle. That being said, sometimes bringing your own car is a must, whether it be just one stop off during a road trip or you’re carrying a lot of luggage, there are some benefits to travelling the city by car.
With Shaftesbury London hotels coming with their own parking areas, you can stay with us and your vehicles with next to no hassle at all. Whilst parking is easy, getting around the city can be a little bit trickier. We’ve compiled a set of tips and tricks to help you get around London in a car.
Keep an eye on the British Highway Code
Make sure that you’ve swotted up on the British Highway Code before driving to, through or around London. With the small streets and fast pace, you’ll definitely need to know the rules of the British road before you brave the traffic.
Know Your Road Signs
Most road signs are universal, but in the UK there are three shapes of sign that can give you an indicator of what they’re conveying.
Circular road signs give orders, whilst circular road signs with red borders tell you what you can’t do.
Triangular signs are warnings for what to expect ahead on the road. For instance potential ice on the road or traffic up ahead.
Rectangular shaped signs convey information such as directions onto main roads and to the type of road that you’re about to drive on.
Seatbelts at all times
If you are caught not wearing a seatbelt in the UK, you could potentially face a fine. This is one of the crucial safety measures enforced in the UK and is a rule that might not be as widely adhered to in other countries.
Make sure you’re in a registered vehicle
Whether rented or owned, make sure that the vehicle you’re driving is registered. If it is not, you might be subject to fines and even have your vehicle towed away. Your vehicle may be registered in another country, but as long as it’s registered somewhere, you’ll never have any trouble whilst driving in London.
Drive on the left!
Remember that in the UK, cars drive on the left. Make sure that even if you have a foreign vehicle, you’ll have to drive it on the left-hand side in the UK. For ease of manoeuvring and for your own comfort, if you are new to driving and are in London, consider renting rather than taking a carr whilst visiting the city. This is because you’re UK registered vehicle will have its steering wheel on the right-hand side, thus making left side driving that little bit easier.
Foreign licenses and driving in the UK
Foreign licenses in London are permitted to drive on the road. This is the same in the rest of the UK too. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re planning on a longer visit to the city, that your permit will only allow you to drive for around 12 months.
After the twelve-month period, foreign drivers will have to swap their documents for a UK driving licence. In some cases, you might have to take a driving test with the DVSA to ensure that you can continue driving in the city.
For the moment, EU licenses are permitted for use in the UK. You can use your EU driving license until it expires, at which point you will need to gain a UK licence. Whilst a trip to the Grande Royale Hotel Hyde Park probably won’t take you past your licences expiry date, those planning on living in London will have to keep an eye on it. Furthermore, if you turn 70 whilst in London or if you officially become a UK resident, your EU driving licence will expire after three years.
Driving regulation in London
For short term London getaway package guests who are using a car, you’ll want to know about the specific fees and charges that come with driving in London.
Main motorways in and around London won’t enforce extra charges. These include the M25 circular which forms a ring around London, the M23 from Brighton and the South East of England, the M40 connecting to Birmingham and the midlands and the M11 connecting to the Eastern counties.
However, guests at hotels such as the Hyde Park International will probably be travelling through the centre of the city. If you are planning to do so, keep these charges in mind as you might need to fork out a few more pounds.
Congestion charges apply to all vehicles driving through the centre of the city on weekdays. This is especially important as a deterrent for drivers during rush hour. The centre of London can get very congested during the times 7.30 am and 9 am, as well as between 4.30 pm and 7 pm.
The T Charge runs alongside the low emission charge. This only applies to high polluting vehicles. This means that you probably won’t face a T-charge doing a stay in London unless you’re driving a van or a lorry that uses a lot of petrol or an older, fume heavy vehicle.
Low Emission Zone
Due to London’s huge population and wealth of industry, the centre of the city can risk becoming polluted. To encourage healthier air quality, the low emission zone enforces mandatory fees for high polluting vehicles in the centre of London. This stops vehicles from driving through London unless they have no other choice.
Should I drive a motorcycle in London?
Keep in mind that if you’re planning on driving a scooter or motorbike through London, the terrain may not be two-wheel friendly. Many of the roads in the city centre are very narrow and can become congested during the rush hour period. whilst bicycles have their own cycle routes, scooters and motorbikes will be forced to navigate heavy traffic and unpredictable conditions. Make sure that you have checked the Bike Safe website so that you know what to expect in London, and where.