Top 5 tips for driving around London

It sounds like a nightmare to most drivers, but the reality is driving in London is like driving in any other major European city. You have to have your wits about you, sure, but that is no different whether you are driving in Leeds, Luxembourg or London. Follow our top 5 tips for driving in the Big Smoke and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy it can be.

Be prepared

If you have a precise destination in mind, use a journey planner or GPS/Satnav to plan ahead. With these satellite controlled devices, you’ll be sure to arrive on time and in the right place. That’s because modern GPS, like Google Maps, is able to update the route as and when it receives travel information. You’ll have no trouble navigating a busy London junction with four vehicle lanes, two cycle lanes and one bus lane – no sweat.

Check for the congestion charge

If you have to travel through central London on a weekday, you’ll have to pay the congestion charge. You can travel around the congestion charge by planning your route ahead of time. But if you really have to enter central London in a car during the working week, then go here to pay the £11.50 levy on motorists.

Get rid of distractions

If you are at all nervous about driving in London, give yourself the best chance of feeling and being alert. Turn off the music and the radio talk show, switch your phone to silent and ask passengers to be quiet or to help you read signs and navigate. It’s a fact that you’ll be far less likely to get lost or go the wrong way when you are fully engrossed in the task at hand.

Don’t be caught out (financially)

Read up on the rules of the road in London. If you enter a bus lane on a weekday between 7am – 7pm you’re likely to get a fine, courtesy of the London Transport Police who diligently monitor traffic at all times using smart cameras.

Some bus lanes operate outside these times and others have entirely different times to adhere to. Bottom line: don’t use the bus lanes in London. Period. Yes, there are taxis using the bus lane – they are allowed to and those other cars that don’t look like taxis are probably Ubers. Stay out of the bus lanes or part with a hefty lump of cash. Simple.

Another feature of the road that is watched like a hawk and used as a golden goose, are box junctions. In London, if you enter a box junction and cannot leave it due to congested traffic blocking your way, you will be fined. This is unlike most box junctions, where the worst you will suffer is a frown from oncoming drivers.

Red routes

Some say you’ll disappear and never be seen again if you stop on a road with double red lines. Of course, this is complete nonsense. MI5 won’t bungle you into the back of a van for stopping here, but you will be (yet again) fined heavily for this. Don’t stop, no matter what, even if it’s just to let someone out. These roads are of tactical importance and are painted in red lines to maintain national security. They can therefore only accept moving traffic.

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