by Chiitaranjan Pali
Although London's public transport network is reasonably well developed, many people tire quickly of the hot queues and complexity of the underground, train and bus systems and so would rather drive while visiting London. This is all fine, but make sure you read on for our quick guide to driving in London before hitting the roads.
First things, this may seem like a simple thing, but it's scary just how many people don't realize that in the UK we drive on the left, and while you're driving make sure not to forget to put on your seat belt and remind your passengers to do the same as a restraint of some kind is absolutely compulsory in the UK. If you have small kids with you, then they will need to be in a car seat or other appropriate restraint - if you're hiring a car then you can no doubt get this from the dealer as an extra - don't forget as if you're caught without these things you'll incur annoying and steep fines.
Finding your way around the busy roads of London is by no means the easiest thing to do in the world. It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with your route before driving, you could also use a GPS system, and for times when that just isn't working out - you'll find it's a good idea to always keep a London road map handy in the glove compartment. If you're driving in Central London you'll also have to contend with heavy traffic and of course the congestion charge which is in force in and around much of Central London. You can keep on top of the traffic by referring to the Government's Highway Agency traffic news website - which has up-to-the-minute traffic updates.
For those of you planning on staying in London, or anywhere in the UK for that matter, for longer than a holiday, then bare in mind that non-UK driving licenses are valid in Britain for up to 12 months from your entry date. After that you'll need to apply for a UK driving license, though this can also depend on your circumstances so make sure you check all the facts before applying. If you're going to be driving a motorbike or moped in the capital, then you should be aware that the roads can be narrow and busy. To help, you could attend a Bike Safe lesson or two, which are designed with the streets of London in mind.
If you aren't driving into London with your own car, then you'll likely need to hire a vehicle in London or from your arrival point. To ensure you get the best deal, we recommend that you use a comparison service such as Car Rentals Network, where you can compare car rental deals and book from London's entire top car hire companies. You can pick up your vehicle at the airport, train station or any number of other points throughout the city.