United Kingdom

This is a ROADPOL country driving guide to help drivers visiting the United Kingdom.

Visitor Information: 

  • The United Kingdom has a population of approximately 64 million, of which 4 million drive on the roads every day.
  • There are approximately 35 million vehicles registered in the UK, of which 32 million are cars and 1.2 million are motorcycles.
  • There are nearly 500,000 heavy good vehicles registered and 1 billion tonnes of freight transported each year.
  • Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) is bordered by sea. Northern Ireland has a land border with the Republic of Ireland. 
  • The official language is English, though Welsh is spoken widely in parts of Wales (particularly in the west and north). In a few parts of western Scotland, Gaelic is also spoken.
  • The UK motorway and major road network is approximately 4,300 miles (6,920 kilometres) long and 430,000 incidents occur annually on the roads.
  • Driving in the UK is on the left. Vehicles are typically right-hand drive.
  • The international vehicle ID code is GB.

Collision & Breakdown Information: 

  • In a breakdown on the motorway, pull over to the hard shoulder. Exit through the nearside doors and wait for help in a position well behind the safety barriers, if this is safe. Do not use a warning triangle on the motorway and do not attempt to carry out repairs. Use an emergency telephone to call for help. These are located at regular intervals along the motorway. Follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder to locate the phone nearest to you.
  • If you are involved in a collision, you must stop and provide your name, address and insurance details. Assuming no one is injured, try to pull to the side of the road so that your vehicle is not blocking traffic. If there are injuries, then do not move any vehicles or casualties. Dial 999 and ask for assistance. Make sure you can give an accurate location so that the emergency services can find you promptly. Police must be called after a collision when there is injury or when the road is blocked (dial 101).

Useful Phrase 1 - English: 

UK residents are not known generally for their enthusiasm or ability to speak foreign languages.

Useful Phrase 1 - Destination: 

It pays to have your phrase book handy, as you are unlikely to find much help in your own language in the UK!

Road Traffic Policing: 

  • There are more than 50 police services in the Great Britain and around 4000 dedicated roads policing officers.

Road Traffic Enforcement: 

  • Under current legislation, drivers who commit road traffic offences and cannot provide a valid address in the UK, face a roadside fine of up to £900.
  • These fines can be paid in cash or by credit card. If a driver is unable to pay the fine, the police are empowered to seize the vehicle until payment is made.
  • Police can also take defective vehicles off of the road until they are repaired or commercialvehicle drivers have taken a rest break if they exceed their permitted driving times.
  • Camera technology is used extensively to enforce compliance with road traffic legislation e.g. Excess speed, contravention of red traffic light.
  • Vehicle owner and registration data is shared amongst European forces in accordance with the EU Cross Border Enforcement Directive and prosecution may follow so please comply with the law

Individual limits and specific driving requirements: 

For more information about driving in the United Kingdom please see the European Commission Road Safety website - 'Going Abroad':


Under new regulations in April 2015, speed limits in England and Wales for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes will rise from 40mph to 50mph on single carriageways and from 50mph to 60mph on dual carriageways.