While cruising around the United Kingdom in your British rental car, it's crucial that you follow the rules of the road and obey applicable driving laws -- made all the easier by understanding local road signs. If it's to be your first time driving in the United Kingdom, we highly recommend you review our tips for driving in the UK before continuing on, as understanding how driving on the left side of the road works is an instrumental aspect of driving comfortably and understanding road signs in the UK.
When we're familiar with road signs, we tend to take them for granted, so in an effort to prepare you for your self-guided tour of the UK, we've assembled a quick guide on understanding British street signs and other relevant information to prepare you for dealing with local signage and driving in the United Kingdom.
Road signs in the United Kingdom are classified as either "regulatory" or "prohibitive", much like the United States and the rest of Europe, in order to easily categorize and understand the various different types of road signs. For English speakers, reading and understanding the information on the sign is not what's difficult, it's implementing those recommendations in a different driving environment. Below you'll find a few examples of both the most common, and more rare road signs you'll likely encounter while driving in the United Kingdom.
Depending on where you're driving in the UK, you may encounter signs in one of the several languages native to the United Kingdom, such as Gaelic, Cornish, Welsh, or English, or others, including French, German, and even Swedish. Fortunately for English speaking drivers, the only places you could ever possibly be stuck without signs in English might be the remote corners of Northern Wales or the Highlands of Scotland.
Like the United States, The United Kingdom uses miles to delineate both distances and speed limits. Below is an example of a common speed limit sign in the UK, which does not indicate either kilometers per hour (KMH) or miles per hour (MPH), but it's assumed that a value of distance is represented by miles in the United Kingdom. The speedometer of any car rental you acquire in the United Kingdom would be in either miles per hour (if a slightly older vehicle), or have both miles per hour and kilometers per hour, per industry standards.
Although this is but a brief glimpse into road signs in the United Kingdom, we've found that most travelers renting vehicles in the UK don't suffer from an inability to read signs, but struggle rather with implementing the recommended (or required) course of action noted on the sign they may be reading. This is due to the unfamiliarity of driving on the opposite side of the road, so we highly recommend you putter around the rental lot as long as you deem necessary to feel comfortable navigating the open road. If you require any tips for driving on the left side of the road or other general UK driving tips, explore the rest of this comprehensive UK travel guide to prepare you for your upcoming road trip or driving adventure in the United Kingdom.