Can You Drive a Left Hand Drive Car in the UK?
When behind the wheel of your car, you may not give much thought to the fact your car is right-hand drive. It is, after all, the way you have likely driven ever since you passed your test. However, cars bought over to the UK from the USA, Europe or Asia are all set up a little differently. The steering wheel being on the opposite side is perhaps the most noticeable. So can you drive a left-hand drive car in the UK where cars are right-hand drive but driven on the left?
Yes! You can! You can drive a left-hand drive car in the UK, whether it be one you have imported and purchased or one you have bought over from your home country.
However, to do so, you must ensure that you have a few things checked before starting the engine and driving your left-hand drive car through the roads of the UK. So in this blog, we look at everything to do with driving a left-hand drive car in the UK.
Are UK cars left-hand drive?
In case you missed the section above, cars in the UK are built right-hand drive and driven on the left. Only a few countries still drive on the left, many of which are former British colonies or part of the current commonwealth. There are no signs to change it, unlike Sweden, Iceland and Samoa which have all switched the sides that cars drive on over the past 60 years.
Does it cost more to insure a left-hand drive car?
Getting insured on a left-hand drive car does tend to cost more than insuring a right-hand drive car. This typically stems from two reasons. For the most part, left-hand drive cars are imported and may be built to very different specifications from those in the UK. This could mean that repairs or replacement parts cost far more to have implemented and as a result, your insurance premium rises.
Secondly, with fewer left-hand drive cars on UK roads compared to those that are right-hand drive, data pertaining to safety means is much less available. For many insurance companies, this means that there is potentially a higher risk of accident so to protect them as well as you, premiums will be higher.
Do I need particular insurance for a left-hand drive car?
In most cases, no. Insurance is largely the same in terms of policies, it is just the costs that may vary. However, should your vehicle be a specialist import vehicle you may find your options or insurance not quite so wide-ranging.
When it comes to shopping for insurance for left-hand drive cars that are not quite so unique, you should have no problem finding an insurance policy.
Will I need to have specific documents for driving or insuring a left-hand drive car?
Depending on if your car has been imported or not will largely determine what you may need to have in the glovebox to prove its eligibility for driving on UK roads.
Along with your certificate of motor insurance and logbook, you will need specific certificates relating to its import. If you have imported it yourself, the vehicle will need to be registered with both the HMRC and the DVLA. If the car has come from Europe, it will need a European Certificate of Conformity and a Mutual Recognition Certificate.
Should the car be coming from outside of Europe, you will need what is known as an Individual Vehicle Approval.
The DVLA will be able to advise you should you be unsure.
Safety tips for driving a left-hand drive car in the UK
Driving a left-hand drive car is more or less the same as driving a right-hand drive model, however, there are particular things you should always remain aware of that could help keep you safe on the UK roads.
Pay extra care when overtaking
Overtaking in a left-hand drive car in the UK isn’t quite as easy as it is when you drive a right-hand drive car. Your field of vision is more limited, meaning it can be harder to see oncoming traffic for example. You should keep your distance from the car in front. This will give you more opportunity to see what is coming towards you.
Keep an eye on your speedometer
With left-hand drive cars built for Europe, USA and further afield, in most cases, this means that the speeds are shown in Kph rather than Mph. This can make things a little confusing, you may feel you are driving within the UK speed limits but in fact, are well over them. Or even under them! Keep this in mind to avoid speeding fines!
Think if you need to use pay stations
Pay stations, ticket booths, drive-throughs and more are all set up in the UK to accommodate right-hand drive cars. If you own a left-hand drive vehicle, you won’t find it as easy to make payments or collect items. With a passenger you won’t have a problem but without, you could hold up traffic as you either get out of the vehicle and walk around or have to lean and stretch to reach the window!
Watch your use of the lanes
Driving your left-hand drive car on the left-hand side can be a little confusing at times and can see yourself drifting out across the lanes.
Convert your headlamps
This is perhaps the most important thing to do. Lights on a left-hand drive car will dazzle oncoming drivers on UK roads so they will need to be adapted. This can be done with specific sticker kits or permanently adjusted in a garage.
If you were to leave your car as it was, without it being adapted, you could find yourself fined by the police and also failing an MOT.
If you have recently purchased a left-hand drive car, it may be best to practice on quiet roads at first.
If you are driving abroad, a left-hand-drive hire car is highly likely to be what you use. It may be a new way of driving for you so opting for insurance for car hire abroad would be worthwhile. A European excess car hire insurance policy can protect you from the costly excess fees that you’ll often find attached to a hire car should you encounter any problems. With single-trip cover available as well as annual car hire excess insurance policies for multiple trips, you can drive a left-hand drive car with a little more reassurance that you are protected. Contact us today to get a free quote.