LondonLifestyle

Vital Tips for Drivers in London

Whether you live and work in London, or you are just visiting, one of the aspects of the city that you might find most daunting, and frustrating, is driving. London is a buzzing, vibrant city, which is one of the things that makes it so great, but it also means that the roads can be pretty busy and pretty difficult to navigate, even for experienced drivers.

That being the case, let’s take a look at some vital tips for drivers in London who want to have the lowest-stress journeys possible.

1. Master the Art of Parking Apps

In a city as bustling as London, finding a good parking spot is nothing less than striking gold. So, you are going to want to do things like make use of apps that help you locate available parking spots in real time. These apps can also provide information on parking fees, helping you avoid any nasty surprises. And hey, while we’re at it, polishing your parallel parking skills wouldn’t hurt!

2. Get Yourself a Private Number Plate

If you live in London and you are going to be driving a lot (and parking a lot) then although it might sound strange, getting private number plates could be a game-changer for you. How so? Because if you have your own personalised number plate, it will be so much easier for you to find your car in a sea of similar-looking cars in the car park. Obviously, if you’re one of those people who can always remember exactly where you left the car, this neat little trick is probably not applicable, but if you know only too well the aimless walking around the car park jig, then private number plates are a time-saver for sure.

3. Beware of the Congestion Charge

Driving in Central London between 7 am and 10 pm on weekdays? Brace yourself for the congestion charge. So many people, especially visitors to the city, have been stung by this in the past, and it is not exactly a pleasant reminder of their trip! Luckily, if you want to avoid the congestion charge, you can aim to plan your trips during off-peak hours or explore the diverse range of public transport options available in London. Trust us; your wallet will thank you!

4. Always Have a Map Handy

If you are not familiar with the city, then this is a must. While having a GPS system is great, keeping a physical map in your glove compartment can be a lifesaver, especially in areas with weak signals or if your phone battery decides to betray you at the most inconvenient time. Plus, unfolding a large map on the bonnet has a certain old-school charm, doesn’t it?

5. Get Friendly with Roundabouts

If there is one thing that’s true about London, is that it is most definitely a city that loves a roundabout. This is something most Brits can handle fairly well, being used to them as we are, but people from other countries who perhaps do not use roundabout systems, often struggle with them, so it is definitely worth boning up on them if you fit into that category. They might seem daunting initially, especially the multi-lane ones. Remember, always give priority to traffic coming from your right and indicate your exit well in time. With time, you’ll be navigating these like a pro!

6. Stay Alert in School Zones

One good thing about the busy London roads is that they have lots of school zones to help keep kids going to and from school as safe as possible when navigating the city streets. What should you do when driving through school zones? Slow down and keep a vigilant eye for excited little humans who might dash across the street unexpectedly. Adhering to speed limits here is not just a legal requirement but a moral one too.

7. Enjoy the Scenic Routes

London is a city with a rich history and stunning architecture. So, it is fair to say that, sometimes, taking the scenic route is a good idea, not only because you will get to see some of the history of the place, but also because it can actually save you time! In most places, taking the scenic route would add time to your journey, but in London, when the main roads are always so busy, the opposite can be true, and of course, you can avoid congestion charges too! So, why not take a detour through the picturesque streets of Notting Hill or the historic lanes of Greenwich once in a while?

8. Know Your Fuel Stations

Running low on fuel in an unfamiliar part of the city can be nerve-wracking. So, it is always a good idea to keep a list of 24-hour fuel stations handy, or mark them on your map to avoid frantic searches in the dead of night.

9. Keep Spare Change

Although London, on the whole, is a pretty switched-on and modern city, many parking spaces are still operated with pay and display machines that require coins to be inserted for you to get your ticket. For that reason, it is always a good idea to ensure that you bring along some spare change in the local currency if you are going to be parking in the city because the last thing you want is to have to lose that much wanted, and hard-looked for, parking space because you do not have the means to pay for it!

10. Keep Calm and Carry On

It would not be exaggerating to say that London traffic can test the patience of a saint. But, as they say, cool heads prevail, and getting yourself wound up when caught in a jam is not going to help. So many arguments and worse incidents have happened on the streets due to road rage, so sit back, take a calm breath, and maybe listen to the radio. Things will get moving again eventually.

11. Leave Plenty of Time

It goes without saying that traffic jams in Londong are not exactly a rare occurrence, so it is always a good idea to set off 30-60 minutes sooner than you think you will need to if you are travelling at peak times, and it might also be good to use real-time traffic reporting apps to ensure you always get where you need to be when you need to be there.

12. Develop a Fondness for Night Drives

London transforms at night, with its well-lit streets and less traffic. If you’re not a morning person, maybe night drives could be your thing. The city offers a serene and different kind of beauty under the moonlight.

13. Consider Alternatives

Sometimes, driving is the only way we can get to where we need to be, but often this is not the case. London is a city with some of the best transport links and the most reasonably priced public transport on the planet, so it is always worth asking yourself whether it really is worth the stress to drive in the city or whether taking the tube or catching a bus might be a more convenient way to get yourself around. Traffic jams are no fun, and with regular alternative options, there is no reason why you should have to endure them.

Driving in London is not always the most fun, but if you take these tips to heart, at least you will make it a little easier on yourself, and you will not end up totally frustrated by the experience!

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