If you are coming to Britain for a holiday or a short break, renting a car can be an ideal way to get around and see the country. It can give you the flexibility to explore the UK whenever and wherever you choose: to visit exciting towns and famous cities, to take a leisurely drive round the English countryside, to enjoy pretty Welsh villages, or to adventure into the Scottish Highlands. A hire car can enable you to combine city sightseeing with a rural get-away, or to tour a particular area of Britain with ease and comfort.
There is an extensive motorway network throughout Britain. Many of the major routes radiate from London: the M1 runs north to Leeds, the M2 goes east towards Canterbury, the M3 runs south to Southampton, and the M4 stretches west from London, through Bristol, and to south Wales. In Scotland, the M8 takes a west - east route, linking Glasgow and Edinburgh. The M6 is a busy motorway between Birmingham and Carlisle in north-west England, while the M5 links the West Midlands with the south-west coast at Exeter. Motorway signs in Britain are white on a blue background, while road signs on "A roads" - which are wide, straight roads, often with stretches of dual carriageway - are white on a dark green background.
Unlike much of Europe, almost all roads in the UK are free to drive on. With few exceptions, motorways do not have toll charges. Recently, however, the M6 toll has been opened which offers an alternative to the busy stretch of M6 motorway in the West Midlands. For a small charge, it enables car drivers to avoid the heavy traffic round the Birmingham area and is worth taking if it is on your route. As the UK road network is constantly undergoing alterations and improvements, ensure that your road atlas is up-to-date so that you can plan your route properly. Some bridges also attract tolls, and it is worth keeping small change for these.
It is unadvisable to drive for more than two hours at a time without taking at least a short break, as tiredness when driving is dangerous. Service stations can be found at regular intervals on motorways, and signs indicating distances to the next services can be seen at the side of the carriageway. Motorway service stations in the UK are infamous for their expense, and the standard of food often comes in for criticism. However, many service stations have improved over recent years and they can provide a welcome rest on a long journey. The price of fuel sold at service stations is usually more expensive than average so it is worth trying to fill up with petrol or diesel at the start of the journey, but once on your journey these service stations are obviously more convenient than taking a detour off the road. Many petrol stations themselves now have coffee bars within their shops, which can be useful for a quick stop or snack.
The holder of a licence from any European Union member country can drive in any other EU country with that Licence . Througout the world most countries will also recognize the licenses of citizens of foreign countries wishing to drive as visitors. All EU member countries now issue licences in a standard format, regardless of the language of the licence
The International Driving Permit (IDP) (not be confused with the International Driver's Licence) is a booklet which is an authorized translation of a driver's own license into many languages (especially languages with different scripts such as Cyrillic, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, etc.). Often it is obtained from a motoring organization such as the Automobile Association or the equivalent in the driver's home country.
In other cases, it is issued by the same government services that issue normal drivers licenses. The IDP has no validity and is only used in conjunction with the driver's own license as a translation. The People's Republic of China at present does not recognize IDPs (although Hong Kong and Macao do) and requires drivers to get an additional PRC license before being officially allowed on all roads.