How to Drive
You probably know that in the UK we drive on the left. This can be very confusing for foreign visitors. Be careful when you cross the road – you must look to your right to see if cars are coming before you cross.
If you come to the UK by car, when you drive off the ferry (traghetto) or out of the Channel Tunnel, there are lots of road signs (indicazioni stradali) that say DRIVE ON THE LEFT to help tourists to remember.
It is easy to hire a car in the UK. You will need your passport, your driving license (patente di guida) and a credit card. The hire car company will put a deposit (cauzione) on your credit card, but don’t worry – if you don’t damage the car, they won’t take any money. Remember to fill the car (fare il pieno) with fuel before you return it.
In residential areas the speed limit (limite di velocita’) is 30 mph (miles per hour). If you are not sure what the limit is, look to see if there are streetlights (lampioni) – if there are streetlights the limit is always 30mph, unless you see a sign that indicates a different speed limit.
There are a lot of speed cameras (autovelox) in the UK. If you speed (violare i limiti di velocita’) you might get a fine (multa) or have points put on your licence (you start with zero points in the UK – zero points is good! The system is different to Italy where you start with twenty points and they take points off your licence for traffic violations).
On motorways (autostrade) – the roadsigns are blue, not green. There are service stations (stazioni di servizio) every thirty miles. Petrol (benzina) is very expensive at service stations – usually 10p/L more. Sometimes on the motorway you see illuminated roadsigns – this is called active traffic management (gestione della circolazione attivo). These signs give special instructions to drivers if there is an accident (incidente) or other hazards (pericoli). It is important to follow these instructions to avoid the formation of tailbacks (code). You can also hear up-to-date travel information on the radio.
If you drive in central London, you may have to pay the Congestion Charge – this is a special tax on cars in London. For more information, see the Transport for London website.