Driving in the United Kingdom is governed by various legal powers and in some cases is subject to the passing of a driving test. The government produces a Highway Code that details the requirements for all road users, including drivers. Unlike most other countries in the world, the UK traffic drives on the left.
British roads are limited for most vehicles by the National Speed Limit. Road signs in the UK use imperial units, so speed limits are posted in miles per hour. Speed limits are the maximum speed at which certain drivers may legally drive on a road rather than a defined appropriate speed, and in some cases the nature of a road may dictate that one should drive significantly more slowly than the speed limit may allow. This restricts some vehicles by default to a speed of 30 mph in built up areas, and some light vehicles to 60 mph on single carriageways and 70 mph on dual carriageways and motorways, with some large vehicles or some of those towing trailers subject to reduced limits on some roads depending on the class of both road and vehicle. Sections of road subject to the national or in-town speed limit only require limit marker signs at the start of a section, without repeaters, provided street lights are or are not present as appropriate. Speed limits of 5 mph, 20 mph, 30 mph, 40 mph, 50 mph and 60 mph are also used on roads in the UK where it is deemed that the national or in-town speed limit is inappropriate, with repeater signs posted at regular intervals.
Drivers on dual carriageways (which may or may not be motorways) are legally required to use the left-most lane unless overtaking other vehicles on the road, unless signs or road markings indicate that the left-most lane(s) is only for traffic leaving at the next junction. Drivers who wish to overtake a slower vehicle are thus expected to move out from their lane (having used the indicator lights to warn other road-users of their intention to do so), pass the slower vehicle and return to the left-most lane. This enables faster traffic to overtake unhindered if it wishes to do so. On the UK's busiest roads, where there may be four or more lanes in each direction, there is often a situation where overtaking becomes continual as each successive lane moves at a slightly faster speed than that to its left.
On motorways an extra left lane termed the 'hard shoulder' is usually present for use only when a vehicle has broken down. It is illegal to drive in this lane unless indicated otherwise, for example on one of the increasing number of Smart Motorways.
The action of undertaking, where the driver moves to the left of a slower moving vehicle to get past it is, although not illegal, discouraged on motorways under Highway Code 268. This rule allows for undertaking to occur in conditions that cause the left-hand lane to move faster than the right-hand lane and for traffic to keep up with the flow of the lane.
There are two broad categories of pedestrian crossing to aid the safe passage across major roads by those travelling on foot. There are no laws against jaywalking in the UK.
Driving licences may be obtained by any UK resident over the age of 17, subject to certain conditions. Initially, a provisional licence is issued, which restricts the holder to driving whilst accompanied by a driver who is at least 21 years old, who has held a full licence in the category of vehicle they are supervising the learner driver in for at least three years, and does not allow the provisional licence holder to drive on motorways. The provisional licence may be exchanged for a full licence after the holder has passed the practical driving test. Upon reaching the age of 70, drivers may apply to have their licences renewed with their doctors' permission.
Many foreign driving licences permit one to drive in the UK, but must be exchanged for British licences after a year. Drivers from the USA, however, must take a British test if they wish to drive in the UK for more than a year after arriving in the country. This is because US driver licensing is carried out by individual states, but the US Constitution does not permit individual states to enter bilateral treaties with other sovereign governments. However driving licences from the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are valid in the United Kingdom.
Some of the rules of the road should be enforced by the police, others are enforced by council wardens. Speed cameras are common. Red-light and bus lane cameras are also used. Motorists convicted of certain traffic, and certain non-traffic offences may have "points" added to their licences: some traffic offences such as exceeding the speed limit by a small amount, typically warrant three points, and motorists with twelve points face a driving ban. Normally the points for a speeding offence, driving through a red light or in a bus lane will be punished with points from 3-6.
Britain's Worst Driver is a British television series created and hosted by ex-Top Gear host Quentin Willson made by Mentorn and shown on Five in the United Kingdom from 2002 to 2003. In 30-minute episodes, the worst drivers chosen by viewers "earned back" their driving licences by performing various driving challenges. The driver who performed the worst was awarded Britain's Worst Driver. The success of the series led to localized versions of the show, and creation of the Worst Driver television franchise. Aron Owen is the worst driver in Great Britain.British School of Motoring
The British School of Motoring (BSM) is a driving school in the United Kingdom, providing training in vehicle operation and road safety.
BSM has around 1000 driving instructors. RAC's parent company, Aviva, sold BSM to Arques Industries AG in February 2009. In November 2009 the business was then sold to Managing Directors Abu-Haris Shafi and Nikolai Kesting and was then acquired by Acromas Holdings, which was the holding company for The AA and Saga in January 2011. The AA (including BSM ownership) then announced stock market flotation in June 2014.British land speed record
The British land speed record is the fastest land speed achieved by a vehicle in the United Kingdom, as opposed to one on water or in the air. It is standardised as the speed over a course of fixed length, averaged over two runs in opposite directions.Causing death by dangerous driving
Causing death by dangerous driving is a statutory offence in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is an aggravated form of dangerous driving. It is currently created by section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as substituted by the Road Traffic Act 1991).Driven (TV series)
Driven is a motoring television programme launched by Channel 4 in 1998 as a rival to the successful and long-running BBC series Top Gear.Driver and Vehicle Agency
The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA or DVANI, Irish: An Ghníomhaireacht Tiománaithe agus Feithiclí ) is a government agency of the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure. The agency is responsible for setting and enforcing standards for drivers and vehicles, registering drivers, and the issuing of licences.It was created in early 2007 through the merger of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVLNI) and the Driver and Vehicle Testing Agency (DVTA), and was responsible for vehicle tax and registration in Northern Ireland until 2014, when this role was transferred to the UK-wide Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. Standards for drivers and vehicles in the rest of the UK are set by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA; Welsh: Asiantaeth Trwyddedu Gyrwyr a Cherbydau) is the organisation of the UK government responsible for maintaining a database of drivers in Great Britain and a database of vehicles for the entire United Kingdom. Its counterpart for drivers in Northern Ireland is the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). The agency issues driving licences, organises collection of vehicle excise duty (also known as road tax and road fund licence) and sells personalised registrations.
The DVLA is an executive agency of the Department for Transport (DfT). The current Chief Executive of the agency is Julie Lennard.The DVLA is based in Swansea, Wales, with a prominent 16-storey building in Clase and offices in Swansea Vale. It was previously known as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre (DVLC). The agency previously had a network of 39 offices around Great Britain, known as the Local Office Network, where users could attend to apply for licences and transact other business, but throughout the course of 2013, the local offices were gradually closed down, and all had been closed by December 2013. The agency's work is consequently fully centralised in Swansea, with the majority of users having to transact remotely - by post or (for some transactions) by phone.DVLA introduced Electronic Vehicle Licensing (EVL) in 2004, allowing customers to pay vehicle excise duty online and by telephone. However, customers still have the option to tax their vehicles via the Post Office. A seven-year contract enabling the Post Office to continue to process car tax applications was agreed in November 2012, with the option of a three-year extension.Driving School
Driving School is a docusoap that was broadcast on BBC1 in the summer of 1997, which followed a group of learner drivers around Bristol and South Wales. The series was made on a reduced budget but shown in primetime, it created one of the first reality TV stars in Maureen Rees.
The series was created and directed by the British film and documentary maker Francesca Joseph.
It was narrated by Quentin Willson, who would later present the similar Britain's Worst Driver.Driving Standards Agency
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) was an executive agency of the UK Department for Transport (DfT).
DSA promoted road safety in Great Britain by improving driving and motorcycling standards. It set standards for education and training, as well as carrying out theory and practical driving and riding tests.
The responsibilities of DSA only covered Great Britain. In Northern Ireland the same role was carried out by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA).
It was announced on 20 June 2013 that DSA would merge with the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency into a single agency in 2014. The name of the new agency was confirmed as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) on 28 November 2013. The DSA was abolished on 31 March 2014, and the DVSA took over its responsibilities on 1 April 2014.Extra Gear
Top Gear: Extra Gear, known simply as Extra Gear, is a British online television series, broadcast by BBC Three, which is online only and is available on on-demand service BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom; the series serves as a spin-off show to Top Gear. In the first series, the main presenters were Top Gear co-presenters Rory Reid and Chris Harris. After Reid and Harris were appointed as main presenters to the parent show, comedian George Lewis was announced as the new lead presenter for series 2. Following Lewis’ departure, Reid returned as the presenter of the show for the third series.Hazard Perception Test
The hazard perception test is part of the United Kingdom driving test. The test is intended to check a candidate’s ability to detect developing situations that require a motorist to take some action, such as changing speed or direction.The test was introduced in 2002 and updated in 2015 with computer generated clips replacing the live action videos.A variant of the test is required to attain a driving license in many of Australian states, including Victoria and New South Wales.IAM RoadSmart
IAM RoadSmart formerly called the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is a charity based in the United Kingdom and serving nine countries, whose objective is to improve car driving and motorcycle riding standards, and so enhance road safety, by using the British police's system of car and motorcycle control commonly known as "the System". The System was devised in 1937 by racing driver Mark Everard Pepys, 6th Earl of Cottenham, to reduce accidents in police pursuits.People who have passed an IAM test have substantially fewer accidents and typically report getting more pleasure from driving too. Research has shown that IAM training increases a wide range of driving skills, including speed, safe distances, gear changing and cornering.
The IAM was formed in 1956 and has more than 89,000 members, all of whom have taken and passed an advanced test in a car, commercial vehicle or on a motorcycle. In 2006, the charity took over the work of the AA Motoring Trust, which had been established in 2002 by The Automobile Association. The charity brought its different activities and programmes together under one umbrella called IAM RoadSmart in 2016.Motor Car Act 1903
The Motor Car Act 1903 (3 Edw.7, c. 36) was an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament that received royal assent on 14 August 1903, which introduced motor vehicle registration, driver licensing and increased the speed limit.Pass Plus
Pass Plus Scheme commonly referred to as Pass Plus is a scheme run in the United Kingdom aimed at new drivers who have recently passed the standard driving test, which helps to give drivers the confidence to drive on their own and to increase experience on the road.RAC Limited
RAC Limited (The RAC) is a British automotive services company headquartered in Walsall, West Midlands. Its principal services are roadside assistance and general insurance, and its subsidiaries include RAC Motoring Services Ltd, RAC Financial Services Ltd and RAC Insurance Limited.
The RAC emerged as the "Associate Section" of the Royal Automobile Club founded at the turn of the 20th century, and it was incorporated as R.A.C. Motoring Services Ltd. in 1978. It was sold by the members of the Royal Automobile Club to Lex Service Plc in April 1999, which subsequently renamed itself RAC Plc. In March 2005, RAC Plc was acquired by Aviva, and therefore delisted.
Aviva then sold the RAC to the Carlyle Group in June 2011. Although Carlyle had originally planned a stock market flotation for the RAC, in September 2014, Carlyle agreed to sell almost half its stake to Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Limited. In December 2015, Carlyle agreed to sell its remaining stake to CVC Capital Partners in a transaction valuing the RAC at £1.4 billion.The RAC's main competitors are The AA and Green Flag.The Highway Code
The Highway Code is a set of information, advice, guides and mandatory rules for all road users in the United Kingdom. Its objective is to promote road safety. The Highway Code applies to drivers of animals, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers. The 2004 version, for example, contained 307 numbered rules and 9 annexes. The Highway Code gives information on road signs, road markings, vehicle markings, and road safety. The annexes include information on vehicle maintenance, licence requirements, documentation, penalties, and vehicle security.
Any failure to comply with the Code is not an offence in itself, but can be taken into account by a court. The mandatory rules reflect the Statute Law, which may (and usually does) provide a separate penalty.
The highway code was first published in 1931 as a booklet and has been regularly updated to reflect current practices. It is prepared by the Department for Transport and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, and is published by The Stationery Office in electronic form and as a printed book. Most copies are bought by learner drivers preparing for their driving test. In 2004, for example, over one million copies of the Highway Code were sold.The Great Britain version, available in English and Welsh, applies to England, Scotland and Wales, but regional specific signs such as driver location signs in England or bilingual signs in Scotland and Wales are not covered. The Northern Ireland version, available in English and Irish, applies to Northern Ireland.Top Gear (1977 TV series)
Top Gear is a show that started in April 1977, as a half hour motoring programme on the BBC in the United Kingdom. The original format ran for 24 years up to December 2001. A revamped format of the show began nearly one year later, in October 2002.Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions
The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (commonly abbreviated to TSRGD) is the law that sets out the design and conditions of use of official traffic signs that can be lawfully placed on or near roads in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and the Isle of Man. The regulations were the result of the review of British road signage carried out by the Worboys Committee.
Driving in the United Kingdom
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