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Driving a Car in London

Are you thinking about driving a car in London? Like most major cities, London suffers from slow moving traffic especially in the central area. It is worse during the weekdays, especially during the commuting hours from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Furthermore, finding a car park can be a challenge and when you find one, it’s often expensive. Therefore, many Londoners prefer to commute using the city’s efficient public transport system and a quarter of the households in London don’t even own a car. 

Renting a Car

However, driving yourself does give you the freedom to explore beyond Central London and further beyond the city limits at a more leisurely pace. You can find car rental companies located at the six airports serving London (Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, London City and Southend Airports). There are also car rental companies located at some of the railway terminals including St Pancras International, London Euston and London Waterloo Stations. Major car rental companies in London include Thrifty, Enterprise, Sixt, Hertz, Avis, National, Budget, Economy and Europcar.

Regent Street in London by Lewis Clarke

Driving for Foreign Visitors

Foreign visitors can legally drive in the UK for up to 12 months from the date of arrival if they have a valid non-UK driving licence. Driving in the UK is on the left side of the road and the driver’s seat is on the right. Ensure you have adequate insurance and the car is roadworthy. The law requires the driver and passengers to fasten their seat belts when in a moving vehicle. The law also prohibits the driver from using a mobile phone while driving and is strict against those driving under the influence of alcohol.

Oxford Street in London by Adrian Pingstone

Driving in Central London

Driving in Central London during the weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. attracts a fee called the Central London Congestion Charge. The charge is £11.50 per day, which can put a hole in your pocket if you drive frequently in the area. The slow moving traffic during the period also makes driving an unnecessary activity. Taking the Underground trains makes a faster, convenient and cheaper option to get around.

Traffic congestion in Central London byMario Roberto Durán Ortiz

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