Crowne Plaza Marlow
The UK is well served by a vast network of roads, particularly around London and the Home Counties.
Driving Licence Requirements
An international driving permit carried in conjunction with your own national driving licence allows the holder to hire and drive cars in the UK.
Driving on the Left
In the UK vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the carriageway, with British cars' steering wheels located on the right of the vehicle.
Finding your Way
Local Thames Valley and 'London A-Z' guide map books can be purchased at many shops and motorway service stations and are an invaluable accompaniment to discovering the area.
A particularly detailed and useful map is the Ordnance Survey Explorer 172 series titled 'Chiltern Hills East' (High Wycombe, Maidenhead and Rickmansworth). The map also shows part of the Thames Path. For local information, consult the 'Local Red Book' for High Wycombe, Amersham, Chesham and Gerrards Cross, which includes Marlow.
Despite the heavy traffic throughout the south-east of England, Marlow is located between the M40 and M4 motorways and drivers do have the option to drive on secondary, more scenic roads, particularly towards the upper Thames.
Avoid driving at rush hour peak times - 7:30 am to 9:30 am and 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm around the M4, M25 and eastern end of the M40.
London has two orbital roads: the North / South Circular rings urban London and is marked as North Circular (north of the Thames) or South Circular (south of the Thames) on road signs and on the road surface. This is a good route to use when exploring London by car.
The M25 motorway circumnavigates the outer London area and passes through largely rural areas. This connects with all the major routes into and out of London, including the M3 south-west bound, M23 southbound, M4 westbound, M40 north-west bound to Marlow and the M1 northbound.
From Heathrow, the M4 motorway runs east into central London and west towards the Thames Valley, the M4 connects with the M25 at junction 4B and continues westwards linking Windsor, Maidenhead, Reading, Swindon and Bristol before crossing the River Severn to South Wales. For those who prefer older, quieter roads, the A4 can be joined from the M4 at junction 12 and passes through some of the most tranquil and picturesque countryside in southern England.
Please note: Motorways are distinguishable by the prefix M before the route number and normally carry three lanes of traffic in each direction. Occasionally, there may be four lanes as is the case with some of the M25 London orbital motorway.
The best road atlases are the large-format books produced by the Automobile Association, Royal Automobile Club, Collins and Ordnance Survey.
Road Signs and Markings
Throughout the UK, road signs are of a national standard and divided into three categories:
Most of the international car hire and car rental companies are well represented throughout the UK. There is a wide variety of car makes to choose from including Ford, Vauxhall and Rover, and continental European and Japanese makes. Cars with automatic transmissions may have to be reserved in advance as the majority of British hire cars have manual transmissions.
Specialist car hire companies offer self-drive or chauffeur-driven limousines and can be booked through the hotel's Concierge. The Concierge can book your car hire or arrange collection with a recommended company.
There are very few toll roads in the UK; the exceptions are for bridges, for example at Dartford.
All car hire companies supply vehicles with breakdown cover. In the UK the Automobile Association (AA), Royal Automobile Club (RAC) and National Breakdown provide the bulk of cover for association or club members.
If driving a private car, not hired, check with the owner about breakdown cover. Alternatively, the AA, RAC and other associations have links with international motoring organisations and will assist international members. The recovery organisations pride themselves on fast attendance and normally being able to effect a repair at the roadside. For major breakdowns, they will tow the car to a garage of your choice.
To drive a car in the UK you must be 17 years of age with a valid driving licence and car insurance.
70 mph (110 kph) is the national speed limit on motorways and dual carriageways; 60 mph is the maximum limit on all other major routes unless otherwise indicated. 30 mph or 40 mph (50 kph or 60 kph) are enforced speed limits for urban areas.
Although some drivers will exceed the speed limit, especially on motorways, it is still against the law to do so and drivers risk heavy fines and a licence endorsement for driving above the speed limit.
The wearing of seat belts by driver and all passengers, front and back seats, is compulsory.
It is advisable to park in officially designated car parks. These are signposted well in advance by a white letter 'P' against a blue background, usually with accompanying route signs. Street parking in London is extremely difficult and it is possible for the car to be clamped or towed away, incurring a large fine.
Double yellow lines on the road surface by the kerb mean no parking or stopping. Single lines mean you can stop briefly to pick up or put down, but not park. Other street parking is regulated by meters for short stays or residential parking, which requires a permit.
Pull off the road as requested, switch off the engine, wind down the window and remain seated. The police officer will approach the driver's window.
British police officers are authoritative but never aggressive. Always be polite and courteous and show all necessary documentation such as passport, driving licence and car hire documents if asked to do so.
Dial 999 for police, ambulance, the fire service, coastguard or mountain rescue service (no money required).
When making a 999 call, try and give as much information to the operator about the incident / accident as possible, such as location, number of people involved and whether there are any injuries. This extra information helps the emergency services.