In the capital, there are charges and emissions legislation that you’ll need to be aware of before you drive, in addition to some different driving laws that could land you with a fine if you’re not aware of them. So before you set off on your trip to London, it’s worth being aware of the factors that make it different compared to driving around the rest of the UK.
It goes without saying that you should never drive into London (or anywhere else in the UK) if you are not covered by insurance. It is an offence to drive a car on the road anywhere in the UK without insurance, so check that your policy is still up to date and current before setting off. Anyone driving from outside of the UK will also need to ensure the insurance policy they take out covers them for driving in the UK.
If you happen to be driving to London from Northern Ireland via the ferry and are wondering whether you’ll be covered, you’ll be pleased to know that the insurance policy you purchase there will extend to England. For anyone travelling between these two locations who aren’t yet insured, you can find insurance quotes at Compare NI. Simply enter your car’s registration number and your details and you’ll be provided with a selection of quotes for Northern Ireland car insurance from various providers. Once you arrive in London, you’ll then be able to drive around with the knowledge that you’re fully insured in the event of an accident.
Before heading into the Central London zone, you should expect to pay the congestion charge. This covers a range of areas from Marylebone across to Shoreditch, all the way down to Victoria and Elephant and Castle. If you’re travelling from Monday to Friday from 7:00-18:00, you will have to pay the congestion charge. There are no charges to pay for drivers travelling on the weekend, on public holidays or between 18:00-7:00.
Before driving into London, be aware of your car’s Euro emissions standard to determine whether or not you are liable to pay the T-charge, a new charge brought into effect in October 2017 as part of the government’s plan to improve air quality.
The purpose of the charge is to reduce the amount of higher polluting cars travelling in London’s congestion charge zone, and drivers of any vehicle that does not meet a minimum of Euro 4 emissions standards will be required to pay an additional fee on top of the standard congestion charge.
If you’re travelling after April 2019, bear in mind that the fee will have increased due to planned changes to the T-charge zone to an Ultra-Low Emission zone. Hybrid and electric cars are exempt from all charges.
Navigating the Roads:
London is undoubtedly the busiest city in the UK so it’s no surprise that it is also home to some of the country’s busiest junctions and routes. Make sure that you are ready to deal with potentially stressful driving situations and brush up on your knowledge of the rules of the road, including road marking meanings, bus lanes, and on-street parking. Yellow box junctions, in particular, are common in London, but whilst it may be frustrated waiting at a box junction and going nowhere, don’t be tempted to pull out until you can see that your exit is clear. If not, you may find that you are issued with a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) for waiting in the yellow box at junctions. And, if you wait in the junction and block the path of another vehicle, you could quickly become a serious danger to both yourself and other road users.
When driving in London, take your time and focus on driving safely – don’t let other drivers pressure you into driving into the yellow box junction before it’s safe to do so.
Bus Lanes and Red Routes:
There are, unsurprisingly, many bus lanes running throughout the capital, so it’s important to be aware of their times of operation so that you don’t end up getting caught driving in one when it is not permitted. In addition, it’s wise to be aware of the various ‘red routes’ throughout the city; stopping is not allowed on these designated routes and they are typically marked by either double red lines or blue circular signs with a red cross running through them. Double red lines are in operation at all times, while roads with a single red line usually allow drivers to stop at certain times of the day, for a certain amount of time.
Finally, don’t forget that many areas of London have cameras patrolling areas such as no entry, no left/right/U-turns, and much more – they’re not just for catching speeding. So, don’t take any chances and drive responsibly in the capital.