When you just arrived in the United Kingdom, you may be confused about the road rules. What side do you drive on? Are the signs in mph or kph? Why are there so many circle-roads instead of traffic lights? Do I have to have car insurance? Don’t worry! All these questions will be answered in this article.

Basic Rules

In the UK, there are some basic rules that everyone has to follow:

  • Drive on the left side of the road
  • Follow the speed limit
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Stop and Stop signs and traffic lights
  • Everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt
  • Give way to emergency vehicles

Measurement System

Major distances are always measured in miles and shorter distances with yards. Some key facts to know:

  • 1 yard = 3 feet
  • 1 mile = 1760 yards

You can see the speed limits on circular signs that will be posted regularly on the roads you’re driving on. Speed limits are given in miles per hour and vehicles display their speed in miles per hour. BUT, fuel is measured in litres.

Road Types

“M” Roads - A motorway. This could have up to 4 lanes of traffic in each direction.
“A” Roads - Main roads in the UK.
“B” Roads - Smaller roads in the UK. They usually link into “A” roads.
“C” and “D” Roads - Single track roads. They are usually in rural areas.

Traffic Lights

Red light means stop. No matter what, you have to stop.
Yellow means to slow down. If you cannot slow down before the white line, you may go. You are required to stop unless it is unsafe to do so.
Green means go. When the light turns yellow and red, that is a warning that the light is about to turn green.


There are a lot of roundabouts in the UK instead of traffic lights. When you encounter a roundabout, always yield to traffic which will be coming from your right. Enter the roundabout going left. If you go right, you’ll be going the wrong way! Be careful because roundabouts can get a little bit hectic!

Car Insurance

Everyone is required to have at least third party insurance if you are driving in the UK. Most rental cars will come with this.

If you were born or have lived outside of the UK, you might consider getting a quote for your car insurance with Marshmallow. We look at your previous driving experience to save you money and to keep you driving on the road. We also accept no-claims discounts or bonus-malus from your previous foreign insurers. Last but not least, we provide fully comprehensive insurance that covers damage to your car and others, fire and theft, injury to you and other people and your driving in the EU for up to 60 days.

There’s so much more little quirks and rules that driving in the UK has but this encompasses most of what you need to know when driving. Good luck and we hope you consider getting a quote from Marshmallow!

Get a quote here!