Road rules in U.K.

Road rules in U.K.

by Stripes Europe
Stripes Europe

Living in the U.K. or plan to drive through the area soon? Here are key rules you need to know. 

CELLPHONE USE WHILE DRIVING 

It is illegal and unsafe to use a hand-held cellphone when driving, except with a hands-free device. 

WARNING: Even whilst using a hands-free device, research has shown you could still be distracted and not in full control of your vehicle. If observed by law enforcement, you could be prosecuted. 

CHILD SAFETY 

The U.K. follows the i-Size regulation concurrent with ECE R44/04 and requires EU-approved safety seats marked with an “E” inside a circle. Visit www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules to ensure you select compliant car seats. 

Note: U.K. spec cars require U.K. spec car seats while U.S. spec cars accommodate both U.S. and U.K. spec car seats. 

COMPULSORY SAFETY EQUIPMENT 

Your vehicle should carry a reflective vest/jacket, first-aid kit and EC regulation warning triangle. It is highly recommended that you also have a fire extinguisher and extra headlight bulbs. 

CONGESTION CHARGES 

To help ease traffic jams, drivers are required to pay a congestion charge before driving in the Central London Congestion Charging Zone during weekdays (except public holidays) between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. For information, zone locations, or to pay online, visit the official site at www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ congestion-charge. 

DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED 

Drivers are considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol limit is 0.08 in England and Wales or .03 in Scotland. According to U.S. Air Force regulations, drivers with blood alcohol levels over .05 are considered to be impaired. 

FINES 

When drivers commit moving (and some parking) violations and receive citations either on or off base, information is sent to U.S. Forces security personnel, and points are assessed against your DFP based on citation severity. For a table of specific offenses, corresponding assessed point values and suspension lengths, refer to the current Mildenhall I31-218 found at www.e-publishing.af.mil. 

FUEL RATIONS 

When you fill-up on base, show USAFE Form 435 as verification of your entitlement. There are no monthly rations, but gas must be used within reason (per 3rd Air Force regulation). If you are filling a vehicle that is not on your driving/fuel permit card, you must be able to show one of the following: rental agreement, TDY orders or 941 customs import form. 

LEFT ON RED 

Unless otherwise indicated, turning left on red is not permitted. 

LIGHTS 

Vehicles built after April 1981 must have single fog lights mounted on the rear right side. Parking lights must be white, not amber, and all headlights must be angled for driving on the left side of the road. Cars built after April 1986 must have driver-side turn signal repeaters. Rear turn signals must flash amber. Very few American vehicles meet the standards for light requirements in the U.K. but can be converted for $200 to $300. 

LOOK RIGHT 

In the U.K. you must drive on the left, so always look right first, then left, then right again. 

PARKING 

Besides “no parking” signs, other markings indicate parking restrictions. Double yellow or white zigzag lines indicate no waiting, or parking. Red lines indicate no waiting, parking or stopping. Single yellow lines generally prohibit parking or waiting from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Check signs for time restrictions or direction to pay and display when yellow dashed lines are present. 

PASSING 

U.S. service members, civilians and dependents stationed in the U.K. cannot pass within ten miles of their respective bases (RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall currently operate the no-passing policy). 

There are exceptions to the no-passing rule and they are: 

1. U.K. Traffic Law allows passing on the stretch of road you are on 

2. The vehicle you wish to pass is traveling at less than 30 MPH 

3. It is safe to do so (visibility past car, road layout, experience of driving in the U.K). All three of these exceptions need to be in place to pass within the ten-mile no-passing radius. 

ROAD TAX 

If stationed in England, the first year for your first registered vehicle is tax-free. Afterward, payment of the road tax is an annual requirement in order to drive on British roads. This road tax only applies to U.S. vehicles imported with service members. 

RIGHT OF WAY 

Unlike in much of Europe, there is not a priority given to vehicles coming from the right (or left). All intersections have signage and/or road markings to indicate to drivers whether they must yield (give way), stop or continue. 

SPEED LIMITS 

Speed limits in the U.K. are maximums not mandatory and drivers should remember to drive to the prevailing road and weather conditions at all times. 

WINTER TIRES 

In general, winter tires are not required unless directed by signs or authorities. However, as the temperature drops below 7° C, standard tires can harden, creating less traction while driving. Winter tires allow for better control, performance and fuel efficiency. 

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS 

Those stationed in England are required to attain USAFE Form 435 driver’s licenses. Valid stateside driver’s licenses, proof of insurance and vehicle registration are also needed. Not stationed in England but driving there during your travels? International driving permits are not required if visiting for less than 12 months, but make sure to carry your valid U.S. license and, if applicable, your U.S. Forces license. 

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