Nothing can be more daunting than driving in a place you're unfamiliar with! It can be difficult enough finding your way around Edinburgh and observing the local customs, speed limits and driving laws without even taking in to consideration that you might be on the wrong side of the road or even the car.
At EdinburghRentalCar.co.uk we're here to make sure your car rental experience in Edinburgh is memorable for all the right reasons. So, to help visitors to our city, we've used our local knowledge and put together a guide to driving in Edinburgh and the Lothians including what to expect from local drivers, information about local laws in Edinburgh which might not apply elsewhere and much more.
Here are some important things to consider when you drive in Edinburgh:
In Edinburgh, like in the rest of the United Kingdom, the correct lane to drive is the left hand side lane with any other lanes being used for overtaking. Any car produced in / for the UK has the steering wheel on the right side of the car. For foreign visitors this may not sound like much, but you need to be extremely careful when driving as you may not be used to this. If you drive through one of our many roundabouts, the rule when approaching is to give way to oncoming vehicles from your right.
On many streets inside Edinburgh the speed limit is 30 miles per hour (48 km per hour). However, on some streets you may be allowed to drive at up to 40 mph (64 km/h); these streets are clearly marked, so keep your eyes open for signs with a red border. If you're planning to drive outside Central Edinburgh, the speed limit in rural areas is 60 mph (96 km/h) if there are no signs which indicate otherwise. Be aware that exceeding the speed limits could lead to fines, penalty points or even licence suspension.
Scotland is closer to the North Pole than a lot of other European countries; this means that during the winter the temperature can get pretty low. Though the roads are often cleared, you should always exercise extra caution because a barely visible layer of black ice can form on the surface and can lead to very nasty accidents. It is recommended that you always have a shovel, winter tires and anti-freeze in your car. If the weather is really bad, you may also want to consider a pair of snow chains on your traction wheels. This will increase the grip that the car has, therefore reducing the risk of having an accident.
Seatbelts, child seats and mobile phones
In Edinburgh there are a lot of unmarked police cars driving around the city. One could be just in front of you and you wouldn't even notice. To save your money and avoid fines, it is important to always keep your seatbelt on, no matter if you're in the front or rear seats. Baby seats or child restraints must also be approved for use and fitted correctly. Also, the law requires all children who are under the age of 12 and under the height of 1.35m to wear an appropriate child restraint. When it comes to mobile phones, it is forbidden to use them directly, because research has proven that their use reduces your ability to concentrate. If you insist on using your mobile phone either pull over or you can use the phone with a hands-free kit attached to it.
Drinking and driving
As you've probably already guessed, it is not very smart to drink alcohol before driving. In Edinburgh, like the rest of the UK, the legal alcohol limit for drivers is 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of blood. You should simply avoid drinking anything before driving because you'll never know if you've exceeded the limit or not, unless the police stop you and measure your blood alcohol level. However, if you decide to ignore this advice and the police pull you over, you could be in serious trouble; they have a zero tolerance approach to drink driving because you've endangered other motorists and pedestrians. So don't risk your licence and even your life for nothing.