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BS: Advice for North American driving in UK

Maryrrf 18 Sep 01 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,buzz 18 Sep 01 - 01:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Sep 01 - 01:13 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 Sep 01 - 01:20 PM
Midchuck 18 Sep 01 - 01:31 PM
Mrrzy 18 Sep 01 - 01:37 PM
Eric the Viking 18 Sep 01 - 01:56 PM
GUEST,Ed 18 Sep 01 - 02:03 PM
Mac Tattie 18 Sep 01 - 02:05 PM
weepiper 18 Sep 01 - 02:18 PM
The Shambles 18 Sep 01 - 02:27 PM
bill\sables 18 Sep 01 - 02:38 PM
Maryrrf 18 Sep 01 - 02:47 PM
Jim Dixon 18 Sep 01 - 02:54 PM
Noreen 18 Sep 01 - 02:56 PM
Jon Freeman 18 Sep 01 - 03:17 PM
Dave Wynn 18 Sep 01 - 03:22 PM
Eric the Viking 18 Sep 01 - 03:26 PM
Mac Tattie 18 Sep 01 - 03:39 PM
Noreen 18 Sep 01 - 03:56 PM
Liz the Squeak 18 Sep 01 - 03:56 PM
Maryrrf 18 Sep 01 - 04:31 PM
Mac Tattie 18 Sep 01 - 05:46 PM
The Walrus 18 Sep 01 - 06:03 PM
Murray MacLeod 18 Sep 01 - 06:11 PM
kendall 18 Sep 01 - 08:07 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 18 Sep 01 - 08:48 PM
bill\sables 18 Sep 01 - 09:11 PM
kendall 18 Sep 01 - 09:17 PM
Julia 18 Sep 01 - 09:52 PM
GUEST,John Leeder 18 Sep 01 - 10:01 PM
Seamus Kennedy 19 Sep 01 - 01:21 AM
Liz the Squeak 19 Sep 01 - 01:29 AM
Manitas 19 Sep 01 - 02:21 AM
Lonesome EJ 19 Sep 01 - 02:46 AM
Scabby Douglas 19 Sep 01 - 05:00 AM
AndyG 19 Sep 01 - 06:17 AM
Murray MacLeod 19 Sep 01 - 06:54 AM
Wolfgang 19 Sep 01 - 07:18 AM
GUEST 19 Sep 01 - 07:21 AM
Scabby Douglas 19 Sep 01 - 07:23 AM
Scabby Douglas 19 Sep 01 - 07:25 AM
GUEST 19 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM
Scabby Douglas 19 Sep 01 - 07:37 AM
GUEST 19 Sep 01 - 07:51 AM
kendall 19 Sep 01 - 08:16 AM
sophocleese 19 Sep 01 - 09:28 AM
Maryrrf 19 Sep 01 - 09:35 AM
GUEST 19 Sep 01 - 09:44 AM
Maryrrf 19 Sep 01 - 10:33 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Sep 01 - 01:10 PM
kendall 19 Sep 01 - 02:05 PM
MMario 19 Sep 01 - 02:16 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Sep 01 - 02:55 PM
wildlone 19 Sep 01 - 03:15 PM
Jim Dixon 19 Sep 01 - 03:25 PM
Maryrrf 19 Sep 01 - 03:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Sep 01 - 03:43 PM
Manitas 19 Sep 01 - 03:52 PM
Jim Dixon 19 Sep 01 - 05:51 PM
kendall 19 Sep 01 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com 20 Sep 01 - 01:00 AM
Grab 20 Sep 01 - 08:15 AM
Jon Freeman 20 Sep 01 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,Russ 20 Sep 01 - 02:28 PM
Maryrrf 20 Sep 01 - 03:34 PM
Grab 21 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Sep 01 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 21 Sep 01 - 10:20 AM
Jim Dixon 21 Sep 01 - 11:25 AM
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Subject: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Maryrrf
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 12:51 PM

I'm planning on going to Scotland end September/early October (provided nothing else happens here to mess up transportation). I've reserved a rental car but getting nervous about driving, since the steering wheel is on the other side of the car, etc. Does anybody have any advice to share about getting used to reverse driving?


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST,buzz
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 01:06 PM

Dont worry to much,youll find our roads a mostly traffic jams,so it will be really hard to make mistakes cause you will be hardly moving.perhaps it would be wise to top up your insurance . only joking, im sure you will have no problems at all just relax and enjoy your stay with us.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 01:13 PM

I take it you mean the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car. At least that way you are less likely to wake up in the morning and drive off on the wrong side of the road, which quite often happens to people from Britain using their own cars in France and so forth.

Since everything on the roads is the other way round, that shouldn't be a problem. You might have more difficulty with the controls, because the handbrake and the gear lever (or the automatic controls if its an automatic, which few cars are in Britain) are on your left hand, in the middle of the car.

Also I believe there are some differences in road rules - in normal driving you never overtake on the left, which I believe is legal in America. And remember the petrol is a lot more expensive here than you are used to.

And I read somewhere that you don't normally have roundabouts on American roads. We have lots, and they can be tricky, especially in busy traffic. The basic rule is give way to traffic on the roundabout.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 01:20 PM

Make sure you get an automatic gearbox - it will make it so much easier for you with the controls. Read up on and stick to the rules. Take things easy - most people will realise you are either lost or unsure and make allowances. You may find roundabouts tricky - I found your equivalent, the 4 way way stop, took some getting used to. Always stop for a red light - whichever way you are turning.

Other than that at least you are driving in the best place with the least cars and most couteous drivers - in my experience anyway.

Good luck and keep safe. Let me know if you come south of the border into NW England so I can stay off the road...;-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Midchuck
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 01:31 PM

Is the gearbox set up the same way as in a car for driving on the right? I. E., as you're sitting on the right side, shifting with your left hand, is first gear still on the left side, or is it turned around so first gear is still closest to you, which would put it on the right side of the shifter?

Peter.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 01:37 PM

Get used to turning on your signals when you want to wipe your windshield. And realize that the reverse will happen when you get back! Also, to stay in your lane is easy - staying in the right PART of your lane (so that the car is in the lane too, not in the ditches where I kept having it since I'm used to my car itself being on the other side of me) is hard. My sister who drove in Hong Kong says to keep the opposite front corner of the car, according to your vantage point sitting in the driver's seat, lined up with the center line. Try it at home, see which fender lines up, and abroad, keep the OTHER fender lined up. And don't go left OR right without stopping, or you'll guess wrong which one you can do. Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 01:56 PM

Driving the car will be a fairly easy transposition. Controls are reversed on some models. Roundabout! Always give way to traffic coming from the RIGHT, it has right of way most time. Allow good braking distance. many of our roads are faster than the USA or Europe, 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways. 60 MPH on open single carrriage way roads.Look out for Warning signs (Triangular) Mandatory signs are round or hexagonal. Pay attention to inner city and suburb speed limits, mostly 30 MPH (the UK has 100's of speed cameras) If the junction has a solid white line across it, Stop and proceed when traffic is clear, If it has a dotted line it is a give way and you may emerge when traffic is clear. If there is a yellow X hatched box on the ground in front of you, do not enter the box until the exit is clear of traffic. Stop at RED lights, prepare to stop at Amber/yellow. go at green. When approaching a set of traffic lights if the ambeer show, stop and only go through it if there is not sufficient braking distance (Amber means be preparerd to stop).

You'll soon get used to it if you are careful, I guess drivers in the UK are like those everywhere, ignorant, cut you up, speed freaks, impatient.

I've driven both LH and RH cars in the UK and abroard both with correct side controls and also with opposite side controls, both are ok. The correct side is better, but you will need to rethink clearances and curvature on bends, since your perspective is different. Have fun. The Jug is only a couple of hundred miles from Scotland, and if you land at Manchester or London or Birmingham you come up this way anyway so call in!

Have fun

Cheers Eric


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:03 PM

A few links that might help:

Click here

and here

here too

This Google Search will help you find some more if need be

Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Mac Tattie
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:05 PM

Maryrrf, where are you going/coming to, any festivals or music events? The central belt is fairly hetic especialy 8 till 10 mornings and 4 till 6 evenings. Farrther north look out for sheep and tourists. Of course I mean other tourists. cheers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: weepiper
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:18 PM

Can't give any advice about the actual driving part cos I don't drive, but there have been a lot of accidents in the Highlands due to confused tourists; mostly when changing from dual carriageway back to single lanes. If you're going to the west or north coasts or any of the islands, look out for single track roads, they're fun... twenty miles of road the width of one car with a widened bit every few hundred yards so two vehicles can pass at once. There's some really hairy bits like that where it's really hilly, road is off camber on corners, sheep wandering across and locals driving at 70 mph. You'll like it *BG*. Come to Edinburgh, the sessions are good and frequent.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:27 PM

Watch out for sheep!

When you see one at an unfenced roadside, never look it in the eye. For it is then bound to leap right out in front of your car.

Have done the opposite in the US, I would suggest that when it comes to navigation, forget about turns at juctions being left or right.

Just refer and get your navigator to refer to easy turn and difficult turn.

When you get here, right will be the difficult turn (across the traffic) and left will be the easy one. Except at roundabouts

Confused, hopefully you won't be. It is a fine country, enjoy it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: bill\sables
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:38 PM

One of the main things in the UK as opposed to the US is We don't have Left on Red (Your equivalant to Right on Red). Controls are very much the same in the car as in the US but you will probably have a gear shift instead of automatic . We don't have yellow school buses so you won't have trouble with the School Bus laws which I had to learn in the US. Roundabouts are the hardest thing to get used to but I think after about half an hour you should be driving like a native.
Bill


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Maryrrf
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:47 PM

I'm planning to go to Port William, which is a small festival but I've heard good things about it. Other than that I haven't planned my itinerary!


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:54 PM

I'm an American who has visited the UK in five times, in 1985, 1989, 1993, 1997, and 2000, spending about a month each time. The first time, my wife and I rented a car for one week and drove all the way from Portsmouth up into Scotland and back in one week. The next two times, we also drove for a week, but we stuck to the south of England. By the end of the third time, I swore I'd never do it again. It was just too nerve-racking. (I did it 3 times because I kept thinking it would get easier each time. It didn't.) Since then, we have stuck to public transportation, or took day trips driven by my sister-in-law, who has a British driver's license. I have found it MUCH more pleasant.

It's not just getting used to driving on the left. For some reason, my wife had a tendency to drive TOO FAR to the left. Several times, while turning left, she ran over the curb. I found it more frightening to be the passenger than the driver. I was constantly afraid she was going to sideswipe a parked car, or dash me against a stone wall in the countryside.

Also, navigation is a problem. British road signs are different. Maps are different. Streets are laid out differently. You hardly ever find city streets laid out on a rectangular grid; they wind and curve every which way. Every three blocks or so, the street name changes. You can't tell by the street names or house numbers how far you are from anything.

Don't believe everything you hear. Someone (an American, I think) told us, "Roundabouts are no problem. If you don't know where to exit, you can just keep driving around in circles until you figure it out!" That's true only if you're on the inside lane. If you're in the outside lane, you're supposed to take the next exit. Cars on the inside lane will be moving to the outside lane, and expecting you to get out of their way. I think I figured that out on the third trip. No telling how many near-accidents we caused before that.

Country roads are narrower, often have no shoulders, and may even have stone walls right at the edge of the pavement. (I'm using "pavement" in the American sense; in Britain, "pavement" means "sidewalk.") Driving in the countryside is not especially conducive to sightseeing since hedges, stone walls, or embankments often block your view. And you will have too much on your mind to look around anyway.

And Britain has MUCH better public transportation than America, despite the fact that Brits complain that train service has gone to hell since privatization. And you can see much more from the top of a double-decker bus than from a car.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Noreen
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:56 PM

Peter, the gearbox is built the same, so first gear is still on the left side, as you described it.

Good luck, Mary. Best advice is to avoid driving in cities and large towns, particularly at rush hour. In other places and times, drivers are generally courteous and considerate.

Noreen


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 03:17 PM

Ever tried driving anything where the gears are reversed?

A friend of mine built a trike using an Austin 1300 GT front wheel drive engine but mounted it at the back of the trike the front end originally beloning to a BSA motorbike. The gear selector was at the back of the engine and he came up with a couple of links that brought the gear change lever where he wanted it but it also mirrored (first was still forward, etc) our normal system.

I found it took at lot of getting used to, particularly as the mechanism was very sloppy - no gate you could feel. It really was a matter of I think I'm in third so down a little, (pause to work out which way.. )right a little then down little should get me there.

Drifting even further, has anyone else changed over from a British bike to a Japanese one or visa-versa and found themselves trying to change gear with the break or break with the gears?

Jon


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 03:22 PM

Don't do what I did the first time I was going to drive on the continent...I practised for a few miles in England...Bloody disaster....(just joking).

Apart from a few rules (like Bills No Left on Red and give way to the traffic from the right at islands) you will have no problems at all. It takes an hour or two of caution and then it starts to feel "normal".

Turning right at T-Junctions require you remember to take the left side of the road (I take left's in France and have once or twice accelerated for a second or two in the left hand lane).

You will soon find yourself enjoying it.

Spot.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 03:26 PM

Cor blimey Jon, you're right. When I changed from a bonnie to a Jap, I had all sorts of shit and bother for a while. Now I guess I'd get the same changing back to an old Brit if I ever fancied oil leaks, smoke and unreliability.

Always wanted a trike, would still love one. I knew a guy with a reversed gear box, but it made little difference once you got used to it (boy we had some fun) Once the linkage was tight, the gate worked fine. But having driven all sorts of vehicle from renaults with a dash push twist change and collumn change gear boxes you get used to it. hardest thing was big lorries with 2 sets of gears,(High and low)


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Mac Tattie
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 03:39 PM

Maryrrf, Port William Fest was listed as being held in the last weekend of May.!!!! Don't know if it was canceled because of foot and mouth and is now running late??? Portpatrick Fest (the two places are often mixed up)was held on weeked 7-9th September. Other fests. check out Dunbar Festival 28-30 Sep. tel 01368 863301, Penicuik Festival 5-7 October 01968 678153 , Both Sides of Tweed Festival at Innerleithen 12-14 October. cheers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Noreen
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 03:56 PM

Eric, that dashboard-mounted gearstick in the Renault was very useful for hanging your handbag on... *grin*


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 03:56 PM

Once knew a bloke with a reversed throttle bike - Japanese 'rice burner' as he called it, had throttle on left hand side... scary....

The biggest difference is changing from and automatic to a geared (stick shift) engine. Engines don't like doing 50mph in first gear. And remember the no turning on red. The worst bit will be when you have been driving for an hour or two. You'll just be sitting back, thinking 'this is a sample of urine' when suddenly autopilot will kick in and you'll be on the wrong side of the road and changing gear with the window winder before you know it.

Getting in the correct side of the car helps. I once spent 5 mins looking for my steering wheel (I was VERY tired), until told that a) it wasn't my car, and b) I wasn't driving it anyway!

Good luck and take care! And make sure your insurance is up to date and covers all eventualities, just in case....

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Maryrrf
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 04:31 PM

I e-mailed the organizers and the Port William Fest is September 27-28th - don't know if it was postponed due to foot and mouth. I already figured out that I'd better pay a little extra and get an automatic transmission ! And I've been reading about the rules of the road. One of the things that was important was that in the UK the markings on the street apparently mean something. Here I'm sure they do too but nobody pays attention because there will always be some kind of sign as well. I thought that was good information. Still not looking forward to navigating the roundabouts.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Mac Tattie
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 05:46 PM

Maryrrf, word on the street says Port William Fest. WAS postponed BUT IS NOW GOING AHEAD. Sorry if I caused you any upset. Enjoy yourself at the festival and watch those roundabouts. cheers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: The Walrus
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 06:03 PM

One word of advice on driving over here, Beware of the "psychic" drivers ("I know where I'm going, so just read my mind")- there seem to be a number who just can't seem to find the indicaters.

LtS, "...Getting in the correct side of the car helps..." I recall chatting to one of the clerks ar a car rental place (Philadelphia, I think) who admitted that they ran an office sweepstake on (among other things) the number of foreign tourists who tried to get in the wrong side of cars.

Regards

Walrus


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 06:11 PM

Everything has been covered, but I would just like to say that the American system of allowing turns on red, and overtaking in any lane is SOOOO sensible. Took a bit of getting used to at first, but it makes so much sense.

btw in Massachusetts they do have (some) roundabouts but they call them "rotaries". I think that may be a purely Massachusetts usage, but I could be wrong.

Murray


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: kendall
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 08:07 PM

I've driven in England, Scotland and Barbados. Pay attention and you will have no problem. Relax, and you're dead.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 08:48 PM

My first driving under British rules was fine as long as I was on narrow roads in Scotland. My first encounter with a round-a-bout was a near disaster, as I (naturally) went around it the wrong way. My wife also tended to drive too far to the left and hit every drain opening on the side of the road. This was some time ago, the one-laners with laybys probably are 4-lane divided highways by now. When I got to the south, roads were crowded and slow; I gave up and went by public transit which was good.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: bill\sables
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 09:11 PM

"4-lane devided highways" Dicho, Don't believe it. The A1, the country's major trunk road between London and Scotland often changes from 3 lane motorway to two lane dual carrageway till it peters out into a two way single road just North of Newcastle which continues way into Scotland. It then turns into a narrow country road way up to Aberdeen. Motorways are very boring, you won't be able to see much because of the high embankments but you should travel much faster, (unless there is a trafic jam.) Motorway service areas are very expensive, It is much cheeper to drive the "A" roads and eat at a greasy spoon. You got to try a bacon sandwich and pot of tea. Cheers Bill


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: kendall
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 09:17 PM

Maryrrf, unless I get involved in a hostile takeover on the way, I'll be there from Oct 3 to 11. Maybe we will meet somewhere?


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Julia
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 09:52 PM

The offside mirror is useful for gaging your distance from the edge of the macadam. When you start clipping the greenery , you are over far enough.

Get a car with a sunroof, that way you will see something.

I've been over from the states most every year since '93 driving in Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall and around various bits of England. With the exeption of London, which is huge and confusing, and St. Ives, where the streets are UNBELIEVABLY narrow, the cities are easy to get through than you might think because they are much smaller than American cities.

Beware of your first couple of hours. The jet lag makes it very difficult to concentrate. Stop as soon as you can.

Get the smallest car you can use (we travel with 2 people, a harp, guitar, fiddle and luggage and I am 6'-3" so it limits our options) You will get better milage and they fit on the roads better. I have never hired a car in G.B. with more than 1500 miles on the odometer.

I find the sinage very logical, although the word usage is sometimes puzzeling. [ sign enter a divided roadway, our equivalent of an interstate: "Racing by Horse Drawn Vehicles Prohibited" It took me two days to figure out that it probably meant racing PAST horse drawn vehicles.

My most difficult adjustment is when I come home. I didn't make any right turns into the wrong lane while I was there in August but it took me three days back here before I stopped turning into the wrong lane.

Be courteous and every one will assume you are Canadian.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST,John Leeder
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 10:01 PM

I made several mistakes driving in the U.K. three summers ago. The first was picking up the car right away, when I was jet-lagged -- I should have gotten into a hotel for a rest first. Also, in my fatigued condition, I drove from the Glasgow airport immediately north onto the tourist route past Loch Lomond. The highway was two (narrow) lanes, with rocks, trees and dropoffs on both sides, and the tour buses took up a lane and a half. I had numerous close calls, and got into Crianlarich with a traumatized wife, not to mention myself.

I didn't find too much difficulty adapting to driving on the opposite side of the road (since the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the vehicle, it seems natural), but I did have to get used to the position of my left wheels. The solution was for my son to sit in the left front seat (replacing his traumatized mother) and warn me when I got too close to the curb (or, should I say, "kerb"). At that, I made contact several times, and on one occasion bent the rim enough to give me a slow leak, and a near flat tire before I caught it.

The other main problems were remembering which lane to turn into on making a left or right turn, and, of course, "roundabouts". There's only one traffic circle within 300 km of Calgary, and I haven't driven on it in years. Roundabouts are culture shock, but caution and a good navigator did the trick for us most of the time.

An unlooked-for effect was that when I got back to Canada I had to relearn my parking skills. I haven't fully recovered, two years later.

Other than that, no problem!


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 01:21 AM

Maryrrf, a tricky little thing is the right-hand turn. When you turn right from the left lane, your instinct as an American is to turn into the right-hand lane. Don't! When you turn right go into the left lane. Also the first near-miss will put the fear of God in you, so you'll pay attention the rest of the way. BTW, am I the only one who thinks that a near-miss should be more properly called "a near-hit?"

Bon Voyage.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 01:29 AM

I find the sinage very logical, although the word usage is sometimes puzzeling. [ sign enter a divided roadway, our equivalent of an interstate: "Racing by Horse Drawn Vehicles Prohibited" It took me two days to figure out that it probably meant racing PAST horse drawn vehicles.

The sign is a red circle with a picture of a horse and buggy (or cart). This means that there is not to be any horse drawn vehicles on that stretch of road. This sounds silly, but there are a lot of places, like the A13, just about a mile from me, that have a good stretch of straight road that goes up onto a flyover (don't know USA equivalent, but it's a road that is a on high rise over a junction, to save you having to slow or stop to negotiate what is often a large roundabout or difficult crossing); these stretches are used for racing 'trotters' and 2 wheeled gigs. There are a lot in the States, but not so many here, but they are popular in some areas. A popular Sunday afternoon diversion is to race these trotters along the public road. There are places where the authorities know it takes place but can't really do anything about it, so they ban horse drawn vehicles from flyovers, because the speeds others travel at, could frighten the horses, plus the height factor - horses don't really like heights. They see where they are, and if they ain't used to it, they try to bolt. Not good when you're 30 feet up.....

The sign '"Racing by Horse Drawn Vehicles Prohibited" means exactly what it says. This is an area where the racing of trotters is not allowed. Mind you, they can clock up some speed when they do race!! If you are a considerate driver in ANY country, you shouldn't speed past horses at all. I've seen a police horse take out the entire front end of one of those huge Subaru 4X4s, because it got a bit close one match day at Upton Park... I don't want that to happen to my vehicle!!

Read the Highway Code - your travel agent/car hire should be able to provide you with the latest copy - it's very useful and should be compulsory reading for EVERYONE who travels on the roads of Britain - pedestrians included!!

LTS

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Manitas
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 02:21 AM

"Everything has been covered, but I would just like to say that the American system of allowing turns on red, and overtaking in any lane is SOOOO sensible"

Not for the pedestrians trying to cross the road you're turning into it isn't! As far as overtaking is concerned they're talking about relaxing the rules here.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 02:46 AM

Hardest thing is the roundabouts, especially the three-lane ones. When my wife and I were on a long trip, she would watch for the directional sign, and referring to the roundabout as if it were a clock face, she would say "Christchurch, 2 o'clock!", then I would know where my exit was and which lane I should be in. The worst sensation is being on the inside lane, traffic whizzing all around you, and no way to get out to your turnoff. "Stop the world! I want to get off!" indeed. If you think the English are too polite and reserved, cut in front of one of them on a roundabout.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 05:00 AM

Roundabouts - I had a friend who sometimes worked for an executive car hire company. He was occasionally asked to chauffeur a visitor from Glasgow Airport to the various destinations.

The regular drivers used to play "games" with US visitors. Exiting Glasgow Airport, there are at least 2 roundabouts, and then it's straight onto the M8 motorway.

The drivers would delight in hitting the roundabouts at about 30 or 40 mph, spin right round about twice and then skite off onto the M-way, leaving American visitor a quivering wreck in the back of car... ********************************************** Maryrrf - I think you were at Girvan, is that right?

If you make it to Glasgow, look in at St Andrew's in the Square on a Wednesday evening. There's a regular singing session from 8pm which is well attended and very welcoming.

Dita - another 'Catter - is often there, as am I...

enjoy your visit...

Steven


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: AndyG
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 06:17 AM

Just to try and save lives ;)

There is no such crime as J-Walking in the UK.
Pedestrians can (and will) cross the road wherever they feel it's safe to do so. This is legal, so expect it. (It might be me)

AndyG


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 06:54 AM

Manitas, if there is a pedestrian crossing (can't remember the US term !) immediately to your right at the lights, there will either be a illuminated red arrow while crossing is allowed or a sign saying "NO TURN ON RED"

Murray


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Wolfgang
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 07:18 AM

I've often been on the roads of Britain and Ireland both with the steering wheel on the right (that is left) side and on the wrong (I mean right) side. Close to death I only have been as pedestrian forgetting which direction to look first when starting to cross the road.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 07:21 AM

So Maryrrf,

All these people going out of their way to offer good advice to you...

Did it never occur to you to say 'Thank you' in your reply???


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 07:23 AM

Hmm..

I was thinking about other general advice: Like:

* If you are at a crossroads and want to indicate to an oncoming driver that they should turn first. Wave at them with two fingers ( that means you'll go second)

* In supermarket carparks, the lines you see painted do not divide up the spaces, but are to be used as guides to the centre of your vehicle.. park so that the line is directly underneath the middle of your car.

* Most cities in the Uk have shopper parking zones which are marked along the kerb by double yellow lines. You don't have to pay in these zones, and the freindly parking assistants in uniform (peaked cap with yellow, blue or red band) will happily watch your car for you while you make your purchases.

* Be aware that it is considered impolite to rush through a set of traffic lights immediately after they have changed to green. Wait for about 30 seconds. Drivers behind will ahow their appreciation of your courtesy by sounding their horns. Acknowledge with a 2-finger wave..

Any other UK catters have any more thoughts??

Steven


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 07:25 AM

Guest - be aware of time difference - maryrrf is probably still asleep...

Steven


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM

Steven,

Of course, but she wasn't asleep when she made her second post - 11 different people having spent their own time and resourses, trying to help.

No big deal, just a bit rude


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 07:37 AM

No - don't think so - GUEST...

She made her second post 4:31 PM (Mudcat time) - and as it's now 7:40 ish AM (MCT).. I think she may well be asleep

And in any case...

Since none of the people who ACTUALLY posted anything helpful or otherwise are in the least bit concerned about the lag in replying.. I can't really see where the problem is.

Cheers

Steven


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 07:51 AM

My (and it's probably only mine) problem is that quite a number of people had offered helpful advice, before her second post.

It's a small point, agreed. But not to bother thanking them for their replies, is very rude to me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: kendall
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 08:16 AM

Then, why not let THEM do the complaining?


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: sophocleese
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 09:28 AM

I like your advice Scabby Doug.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Maryrrf
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 09:35 AM

Certainly I thank everyone and appreciate all the advice and I must say that everybody seemed very welcoming and positively disposed to having a clueless tourist driving around Scotland. I was very well treated by Brits, Scots and Irish during my last trip except for a rather rough crowd at the King Arthur pub in Glastonbury who didn't want to hear all the verses of Mattie Groves and requested "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and "Rawhide". Yes, Scabby Doug, I was in Girvan and regretted I didn't manage to meet any Mudcatters, although I did make a lot of inquiries for Dita! I was there when you did your award winning song! And I was, of course, the American who sang "Farewell to Whisky" in that contest! I'll try to get into Glasgow to the singing session.

Kendall, I will be in Scotland based about 30 miles from Glasgow staying with a friend and probably will not stray too far from there except for some day trips. What will your general itinerary be?

I did locate a book written by a Canadian giving the general rules of the road in Britain and warning against common mistakes.

And this is a note to GUEST: My second post was made during a hectic day at work and I just wanted to make sure I was on track about the Port William Festival. I'd planned to go back on line later in the evening but got home late, son was on the computer, and I haven't been back on line until now. I think your comments were rather harsh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 09:44 AM

Maryrrf

Understood, I'll say sorry right now

Life has been a bit hard recently,

Apologies if I blamed you for that


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Maryrrf
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 10:33 AM

No problem and no offence taken. I guess all of us in the forum need to remember that communicating on line has its limitations. You don't know the other's circumstances, subtleties in tone and expression can't be communicated very well, and it's easy to read things between the lines that arent' there. I think everybody is still somewhat depressed and on edge at the moment and I hope we can all keep up the sense of community that we've formed. Mudcat brings thoughts of music into the office during often wretched days of commodity trading, and it always brings a welcome break! And if I review all that I've learned in the year and a half I've been on mudcat - it's just incredible!


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 01:10 PM

I'm sure it's not necessary to tell you, but humour's a funny thing. So please note that Scabby Doug's advice (7.23) might be just a little dodgy...

As for turning on red and overtaking on the nearside, whether they are sensible or not, in the UK they are illegal, and are likely to be dangerous since people don't expect it. (And since the only people I've seen recommending the change are a few Conservatives, there's no great likelihood of them coming in just yet awhile. Fortunately, in my opinion.)

I can't imagine how it's possible to do without roundabouts - but then I live in Harlow. Roundabouts are to Harlow what canals are to Venice. If you aren't able to get across them you can't move more than a few yards.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: kendall
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 02:05 PM

Maryrrf, I dont have an itinerary. The good folks who invited me to visit are in charge. However, I do plan to get up to Yorkshire at some point.

McGrath, explain "near side" please.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: MMario
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 02:16 PM

passing on the "near side" would be passing on the right for US


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 02:55 PM

Nearside is the side of the car next to the curb. In the British Isles that means his or her left side, from the driver's point of view. Offside is the other side, on which the driver sits, which in England means his or her right side.

I suppose it's to save the ambiguity when you are reporting an accident that left and right would involve.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: wildlone
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 03:15 PM

Please watch out for motor bikes.
Better still why not hire one instead of a cage?
Just think you could be riding in the wide open spaces on some of the best biking roads in the UK.***BG***


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 03:25 PM

I think passing (overtaking) on the right (near side) is illegal in most states of the US, too. Anyway, it would be a matter of state law, not federal, and therefore might vary from state to state. However, it's a law that's never enforced. Except in certain cases . . .

We have other laws that are not enforced either, except when a cop want to harass you. For instance, in Minnesota anyway, it is illegal to have ANY object dangling from your rear-view mirror. I read recently about a case of alleged racial profiling, where white cops stopped a young black man; asked him lots of questions about where he was going and why, who owned the car he was driving, etc.; and even asked for permission to search his trunk. Since they never found anything else wrong, they ended by citing him for having a deodorizer hanging from his mirror. It was a $40 fine.

I have seen HUNDREDS of these things, and I had no idea they were illegal, before reading of this case.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Maryrrf
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 03:36 PM

I have a feeling I'll be driving very cautiously and not overtaking/passing many people -they'll be overtaking me. I just have to be careful and stay in the "Slow" lane. Good to remember that turning on red is illegal, here it changes from state to state, which can be confusing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 03:43 PM

"I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution" - General Ulysses S Grant.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Manitas
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 03:52 PM

Murray,

Most signalled junctions in the UK have pedestrians crossings on them but pedestrians are allowed to cross virtually anywhere as long as they are not doing so in a way that would endanger them or other road users. We would have to have a major change in pedestrian attitudes before we could introduce something like that and I can't see the bloody-minded British, especially in London, changing their ways for the convenience of drivers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 05:51 PM

In America, it's the drivers who are bloody-minded (stubborn?). In Minnesota, at least, pedestrians are lucky if cars stop for them even when they're in a marked crosswalk. Stopping for pedestrians is another law that is rarely enforced.

Also, (Has someone already mentioned this?) you can make a right turn on red legally only if you stop first and make sure the way is clear. But drivers often don't stop, especially if the car in front of them has just turned. And in Minnesota, you can even turn left on red if you are turning from a one-way street onto a one-way street. There's an intersection like that near where I work, and I find I have to boldly step in front of cars or I'd never get across the street.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: kendall
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 07:38 PM

I believe that the near side in this country is the side with the wheel, and the offside the right front. Makes more sense because the side with the wheel is "nearer" to the driver.

Pedestrian crosswalks are strictly enforced here in Maine.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com
Date: 20 Sep 01 - 01:00 AM

I would really really consider not driving, especially with jet lag. I found it hard to be even a pedestrian in England and almost got slammed a number of times. If you have to then you have to but there are such good buses and trains etc. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Grab
Date: 20 Sep 01 - 08:15 AM

In the UK you are not allowed, anywhere, to turn left on red! Where there is more than one lane, and the left/straight-on lanes can continue, there will be a separate light for them. Either there will be a completely separate light, or there will be multiple green lights with arrows in them to indicate which lane is allowed to go.

The traffic light sequence goes "red, red-and-amber, green", unlike the US where it goes straight from red to green without warning. Use the red-and-amber to get the handbrake off and get in gear, else the guys behind (especially in cities) will start blowing their horns a nanosecond after the lights go green!

There's no 4-way stops in the UK. Where they do occur (mostly on side-roads due to bad planning), priority is not specified, so it's a case of "do you feel lucky?" :-)

In the UK, directions are often printed on the road surface, instead of being on signposts. This is especially the case for lane directions, for example, indicating which lane to be in at a roundabout, or on the occasional junction where the left-hand lane is only for turning left, and you must use the right-hand lane to go straight on. Make sure you keep an eye out for these - as my driving instructor said, "They don't just put them on the road for decoration." :-)

Unlike in the US, roads between towns are mostly extremely well signposted, even on country roads. In the US, you're on your own for navigation once you're off the Interstate, but Britain has signposts everywhere to tell you where you're going. The exception is in towns, where signposts to useful places like carparks may be few and far between.

Passing on the inside _is_ allowed, but only in the case that someone is already occupying the outside line and going at the same speed as the person in the middle lane. It's not good practice though, as it annoys and alarms ppl when you do it. It's best used as a way of indicating to a middle-lane hog that they should get back into the inside lane.

At least in MI, ppl drive very close together. This is not recommended in Britain - if you can read the numberplate of the person in front, chances are you're too close. Roads are often wet and slippery, and most Brits don't buy new cars so ABS is taking some time to become widespread. If you do tailgate someone, they may flash their foglights at you, or worst case (I know some ppl who do this) may deliberately slam on the brakes so that you come close to hitting them!

If you're waiting to turn right at a junction, ppl may flash their headlights at you. This means that they're stopping to let you turn. It's polite to wave to say thanks.

Just a few points to remember...

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 20 Sep 01 - 09:16 AM

Unlike in the US, roads between towns are mostly extremely well signposted, even on country roads

Grab, you have obviously not tried travelling the country roads on Norfolk. I have on several occasions with my mother been a little lost and seen a signpost to a place that we know we can find our way back from. A mile or two down the road, you reach another road junction, well signposted except the place you were heading for has vanished from the signs (and no you are not in the place itself)...

Thinking of roadsigns, there is one outside our drive that I believe caused problems for a while. As far as I understand it, if you look at a map, the route from Norwich to Cromer is all in green (the trunk route) and the road from North Walsham is the red road. I believe the sign used to reflect that - the problem being that The North Walsham to Cromer road is all the A149 and the Norwich road (A140) stops and is the give way. Anyway, the signpost now shows it in a way that makes it clear - turn left for Cromer or right for North Walsham - mabe they changed it - I haven't heard of an accident there for a while (and it together with the last couple of bends coming from North Walsham have been the scene of several including fatal ones).

Jon


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 20 Sep 01 - 02:28 PM

Be careful taking Julia's advice ("Get the smallest car you can use"). In the UK a small car is very small indeed. My wife made the arrangements for the car rental on our last trip. She explained she needed a car that could handle three people. The car they held for us (a tiny little 2 door Volvo I think) could hold three people, but there was no room left for luggage. We ended up in a 4 door Ford Mondeo.

The suggestion that you get a car with an automatic transmission is a good one. The tiny little car had it, but it was literally the only car in the lot with an auto trans. Such vehicles are apparently not common in the U.K. When we moved to a larger vehicle we lost the auto trans. However, the standard trans on the "wrong" side did not prove to be an issue.

Be prepared for major sticker shock when you purchase gas. No matter how outrageous you think the prices you are currently paying in the states, in the UK they will look like a bargain.

Buy a good road atlas. Or several.

The signage was generally good but we did have the occasional problem The worst/funniest was outside Newcastle trying to figure out which ramp to take. We could see on the map what we wanted to do, but the options offered by the signs didn't seem to match the map. We circled Newcastle and cruised by the Newcastle Brown Ale plant three times before we finally made the right choice.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Maryrrf
Date: 20 Sep 01 - 03:34 PM

I'm going to print off all this advice and study it, then for the next several days visualize driving with the steering wheel on the other side of the car and being on the other side of the road. I'll hit the road in the UK in another week! Thanks to all for the tips.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Grab
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM

Jon, I did say "mostly"... ;-) I wouldn't wish the A14 junction around Cambridge on anyone - it took me 3 or 4 trips to get that figured! :-) Anyway, any directions at all is a start, compared to the States. Maybe they don't need them so much in the US though, since just about everything is on a grid pattern.

As Russ says, automatics (both cars and guns ;-) are not popular in the UK. If you can only drive an automatic, I guess you pretty much get what you're given. And whereas in the States a Ford Escort is an ultra-small car, we actually have two sizes below that, and a Ford Escort is regarded as being a medium-size family car!

Cars over here have much better performance than cars in the States though - American cars often have their engines detuned and are much heavier, and the suspension and steering in the UK is much sharper for better cornering instead of being made softer for more a "mattress-like" ride on the freeway. A 1.4-litre car in the UK will likely perform as well as a 2-litre car in the States, and even the cheapest car over here will handle better than an American car. The smaller engine does make it easier to stall though, so if you're driving a manual then be careful with the clutch when you start off.

Yes, petrol (gas :-) over here is twice to three times more than you'd pay in the States. All prices are in litres over here too.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 07:51 AM

It's not as bad as it sounds Maryrrf. But if you are useed to driving an automatic, make sure you get an automatic to drive, because it's a very different way of driving, anmd you'll have enough on your plate with the road signs and all. (In fact in England a driving test on an automatic doesn't qualify you to drive a manual car - I had to take another test when I changed over a few years ago, and it wasn't easy.)

Automatics tend to be what we'd call bigger cars, but that means small to medium cars for Americans.

Have a great time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 10:20 AM

Aynuck had the same worries (I'll spare you the dialect)when he planned a European driving holiday. Ayli warned him to take care. A few weeks later they met and Aynuck was in plaster, his neck in a brace. "I told you to be careful in France" said Ayli. " I didn't do it in France, I did it practicing driving on the other side of the road in Birmingham before I left" said Aynuck.
RtS (translations from standard English available from the usual suspects!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Advice for North American driving in UK
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 11:25 AM

Regarding automatic vs. manual transmissions:

I think you can work with travel agents here in the States who will link you up with one of the big car rental companies, and reserve a car for you that has an automatic transmission.

But you can get a much better deal if you wait till you get to Britain, get settled, recover from jet lag, then look in the Yellow Pages under "car hire" (maybe someone in Britain can confirm this). Many auto dealers and repair shops have one or two rental cars available. Trouble is, you may have to take what you can get. It will probably be a small (by American standards) efficient car with manual everything. But since you're traveling in the off-season, you shouldn't have any trouble finding SOMETHING.

If you already drive a manual transmission, it won't be that bad. At least fumbling with the gearshift is not likely to cause an accident.

But I urge you to consider public transportation instead.


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Mudcat time: 20 January 12:05 PM EST

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