An American driving a MINI in the UK

Discussion in 'Roadkill and other Musings' started by RonsMinnie, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. RonsMinnie

    RonsMinnie New Member
    Lifetime Supporter

    Jul 28, 2009
    Sugar Land, TX
    +5 / 0 / -0
    #1 RonsMinnie, Sep 23, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
    Just landed at Heathrow a few hours ago and rented a MINI and started out on my adventure.

    Getting out of Heathrow was a battle, but I expected that, soon made out to M4 and everything was great. Stopped for fuel and drinks no problem. Made it to my hotel in Newbury, again a few challenges but nothing major.

    My wife wanted to rest up a bit so I decided to go out and see the real UK. Geezzzzz -- what an adventure. I have two GPS and they both work fine except: there is this "round about" thing --- shear terror in a busy intersection.

    Narrow roads just wide enough for the MINI -- no problem until you look up and there is a truck coming straight at you. Some how we passed each other without major damage. I say major cause we were so close the MINIs passenger's side mirror got popped in when it touched the truck.

    Road / street sign? Yes there are some -- just not very many, and the street name on the GPS even matches occasionally.

    I have made back to the hotel and I was real proud of myself. Absolutely not going to venture out at night. The UK in daylight is challenging enough.

    Driving on the left side of the road requires constant concentration, every time you crest a hill and see a car coming towards you -- your first instinct says: its on the wrong side of the road is just scary.

    So I need some very quick UK driving tips --- are there any UK experienced driving pro's that can offer some basic tips?
  2. Belhaven

    Belhaven Active Member

    Jun 2, 2009
    +40 / 0 / -0
    #2 Belhaven, Sep 23, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
    Cars in the roundabout have the right of way.

    Have your navigator get in the habit of saying "you want the Nth exit from the roundabout" regardless of what the GPS says - easier to count than to try to read all the signs at speed.

    Be aware when leaving a place and approacing the entrance to the roadway : in the early days I tended to go to the right.

    Road signs are (usually) only at either end of the road. The road from Pitlochry to Aivemore is marked as you leave Pitlochry and not again until you approach Aviemore. Where you might expect a sign to indicate which town is which way at an intersection, you probably will not find it.

    But foremost - try to get the other driver(s) to take some wheel time - you miss a lot of the local flavor just handling the mehcanics of driving.

    And... I'm envious as all get out. Wish we were back over there again. :)
  3. Angib

    Angib New Member

    Nov 25, 2009
    (Old) England
    +425 / 0 / -0
    As a Brit who lived for a time in Southampton - one of the ports linking drive-on-the-left Britain to drive-on-the-right mainland Europe, I'll say: please, please concentrate on driving on the right when you get home. I know this sounds easy but while in Britain you'll be aware you're somewhere unusual, you'll be making an effort, etc. But a few weeks here and you will have fully adjusted to driving on the left - then when you go home, you're home, no worries, so you stop paying so much attention and you end up driving on the left.

    The usual things North American drivers have to pay attention to in Britain are:

    - Look at the markings on the road because they matter a lot - sometimes it's only what's painted on the road that tells you how a minor junction works.

    - Stop signs are very, very rare - all other signs are 'Give Way' (= Yield).

    - Roundabouts are easy (and great fun for sporting drivers) if you remeber Ron's "cars on the roundabout have right of way". Getting a four-wheel drift going on a roundabout is considered proper behaviour.

    - Overtaking on the inside (ie, left in Britain) is illegal.

    - You can never, ever turn on red.

    - All waves from other drivers are probably wishing you a pleasant stay in Britain, rather than throwing doubt on your parent's marriage....
  4. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
    Lifetime Supporter

    Sep 29, 2009
    Owner of a small custom metal fabrication company,
    Columbus, Ohio
    +7,745 / 1 / -0
    I've been there, but my "wake up and pay attention" happened while on a 2 week vacation in Australia with a Toyota pop top camper. It also happened in a "Round About" exiting onto incoming traffic after leaving Sidney heading for the Gold Coast. Luckily no accident. By the time we jumped over to New Zealand, I had it pretty much down pat, and I could relax. I did all the driving as my copilot could only handle an automatic.
  5. T8rChick

    T8rChick Active Member

    May 4, 2009
    Paying for new tires! The wheels were a deal!!!
    Oak Cliff, TX
    +110 / 0 / -0
    Stick a note on your dash that says "LEFT". So when you question what side of the road you should end up on you have a clue. And watch your navigator because she's on the wrong side too. Rick kept saying "turn left" and would point right!
  6. gbmini

    gbmini New Member

    May 5, 2009
    +0 / 0 / -0
  7. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
    Lifetime Supporter

    Sep 29, 2009
    Owner of a small custom metal fabrication company,
    Columbus, Ohio
    +7,745 / 1 / -0
    That's insane. If I hit that, I'd still be stuck there.

    That's not safe...... I mean, how could you text at the same time?
  8. nyricanintx58

    nyricanintx58 New Member
    Lifetime Supporter

    Apr 20, 2010
    Super HouseMan
    St. Pete, Florida
    +2 / 0 / -0
    how was driving on the right for you? Must have been an adventure and great for a learning experience:Thumbsup:
  9. Paul Webster

    Paul Webster New Member

    Jul 2, 2009
    +31 / 0 / -0
    Its funny but I always found driving in the UK with my American cars 55 pro street Chevy, 78 Malibu, 72 Olds 442 Manual :) , 64 Pontiac Catlina Estate..............easier to drive than a RHD.

    If you want to pop in for a Coffee our postcode is PE19 5BJ, we're proberly 2hrs from where you are, you might need directions in for the last bit our tel no is 01234 376089

    There's not much to look at just a Mini graveyard and some race Mini's

    We've got the last round of Time Attack on Oct 10th at Snetterton, if you want to see some Pro Mods, Fuel altered and loads of American Muscle the National Finals is on this weekend.

    Santa Pod Raceway - Events - National Finals

    I bet your wife hates me now :)

    Have a good one and be safe
  10. Thumper460

    Thumper460 Active Member

    May 26, 2009
    United States Navy ..Retired
    +97 / 0 / -0
    LOL.. the wife will let me drive anywhere in Eu. SAVE the UK!! I have a few friends that live there in London and they drive!! Even then, the wife is slamming a hole in the floor trying to hit the invisible Brake!! lol

    We are all about public trans in the UK. Always on time and usually a fun ride. Speaking of a FUN RIDE.. get on a "big red bus Tour of LONDON" at 4-5 pm. Bring you camera and be ready to be amazed. And yet no one is upset, when the motorcycle cuts in front and takes up the 2 inches of 'free space'. Or all of a sudden a cop has to get thru and turn left and you swear there isnt anyway to go .. and yet it happens. It is the best thing to behold!! LOL

    Although... next year I was told I could have a go!! Right Paul!! LOL

    Just me........................ been there and back again!


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