U.K. road signs
There are hundreds of road signs blocking your view on British roads and—more importantly—telling you how to get where you're going
In a stroke of good fortune, most of Europe has become pretty standardized when it comes to signage, so you should have little trouble driving from one country to the next and figuring out what the speed limit is and where you can't park.
Below is a chart showing all the most important common signs you'll see in Britain. I'm leaving out most of the ones that will be patently obvious once you are in the U.K. (though including the most important, like the universal red octagon that says "STOP" in white).
|A (fake) sign showing roundabout directions, including Motorways (white on blue), primary roads (yellow on green), and minor/local roads (black on white). A small number (yellow or white) on black indicates the junction number (exit).|
|A sign at the Ring Road around London; your choices are left (north toward the West End), right (south toward The City) or straight ahead (into the Congestion Charge Zone and toward Westminster on local roads).|
|A typical junction sign, showing towns and primary route numbers.|
|A motorway sign (the white-on-black number is the junction/exit number)|
|British road signs sometimes show miles, other times kilometers. (If there is no "km" it is in miles; if there's no "m" it is in mile fractions, yards, or feet.)|
|"Give way" or "Yield" (sometimes above a small sign warning of a stop sign ahead)|
|"Give Way" or "Yield" (this one is more explicit)|
|"Give way to oncoming traffic"—They have the right of way (remember: you are the arrow on the left)|
|"Priority over oncoming traffic"—You have the right of way (remember: you are the arrow on the left)|
|"Two way traffic ahead"|
|"Two way traffic ahead" (variant)|
|"Curvy road ahead"|
|Intersection with a smaller road ahead|
|Rough road ahead|
|Soft verges or dangerous shoulder (no guardrail)|
|Unprotected quayside or riverbank|
|Dock with no guardrails (one of my favorite European road signs)|
|"Speed bump ahead" (though I adore the British name for these traffic-slowers: "Sleeping policemen")|
|Not two speed bumps, but rather "rough road ahead"|
|Likelihood of traffic ahead|
|Stop (this one's pretty universal)|
|Level crossing without barriers (I know that you know this means "trains," but the fact that it warns of a railroad crossing with no barriers makes it significant)|
|Speed limit (in this case, 50 mph). Stick to this.|
|Speed limit zone (until you see a sign with a new speed on it, stay below 20 mph)|
National speed limits apply:
|Minimum speed limit|
|End minimum speed limit|
|Proceed straight—no turns. (Notice this sign is round)|
|One-way street. (Notice this sign is rectangular)|
|One-way street (variant)|
|Turn right. (Also available in "turn left" flavors)|
|Obligatory right turn ahead. (Also available in "left turn")|
|Pass to this side|
|Pass on either side|
|Pass on either side|
|Motorway (major highway—usually a "dual carriageway," which is British for "divided highway")|
|No outlet/dead end street|
|Road closed to all vehicles in both directions|
|Do no enter|
|No cars allowed|
|No motor vehicles allowed|
|No parking (anywhere in this block on the side of the street where the sign is posted)|
|No parking zone|
|No right turn. (Similar signs warn you against taking a left.)|
|No overtaking (no passing)|
|No bicycles allowed|
|No pedestrians allowed|
|No vehicles over the proscribed length (useful for motorhome renters)|
|No vehicles over the proscribed width (useful for motorhome renters—and many larger RVs are a tad more than 2m)|
|No vehicles over the proscribed height (useful for motorhome renters)|
- Gov.uk - Official UK governmental rules of the road, guides to road signs and their meaning, and more
- Amazon.com - A link to get road maps of Great Britain.Partner
- Slowtrav.com - Nice article introducing all of the quirks of driving in the United Kingdom—not just how to drive on the left, but roundabouts, highway types, speed cameras, and handy tips.
- Orcutt.net - Almost comically in-depth blog entry—with loads of links—about driving in the U.K. This guy went way above and beyond what's necessary when planning to drive on his British vacation, but it is about the most complete explanation of being on the British road from a Yankee's point of view as you'll ever find. Some good tips.
- Theaa.com - The British version of AAA provides, among other things, a monthly gas prices chart and a map of traffic incidents and slowdowns.
- Parkopedia.co.uk - live parking maps
- Tfl.gov.uk - Driving in London
- Cclondon.com - All about the infamous "congestion charge" you have to pay if you happen to drive in central London.
- Urbanaccessregulations.eu - Central clearinghouse for information on every city in Europe (most, nowawdays) that has some sort of limited access to the city center, congestion charging, Low Emission Zones, or other wrinkle you need to be aware of.
- Autoeurope.com - Wholesale prices on rentals (and short-term leases) from major rental companies. You end up picking up the car at the local Avis, Hertz, Europcar, or whatever office; you just pay less than the rack rate from those companies.Partner
- Rentalcars.com - Comparison shop the rates at multiple rental companies all at once.Partner
- Momondo.com - Comparison shop the rates at multiple rental companies all at once.Partner
- Europebycar.com - Offers both short-term rentals and short-term leases, making it easy to compare prices on a single site.
- Priceline.com - Actually finds good prices on U.K. rentals.Partner
- Vayama.com - aggregatorPartner
- Carrentals.com - This Expedia.com property searches about a dozen major rental companies at once.Partner
- Parkopedia.co.uk - Search for lots, garages, and other public parking options.
- Parkatmyhouse.com - Like Uber for parking, a "sharing economy" site allowing individuals and private entities to offer parking, often just a space or two but for far than garages and lots (plus it is reserved in advance and gauranteed).