Driving In Scotland

A holiday in Scotland is unlike any other experience, from the lush green hillsides in the country, the beautiful architecture in historic cities, and of course the friendly residents that call the beautiful country home, the time spent enjoying life and seeing everything Scotland has to offer will last a lifetime.

The beautiful countryside of Scotland offers visitors stunning views throughout their trip and plenty of photo opportunities. There is no better way to explore everything Scotland has to offer than through your own private tour of the country.

Being able to plan your trip, choose your stops, and be free to take in all of the beauty  just adds to the experience that is a Scottish road trip.

Though if it is your first time visiting Scotland’s lush green hillsides and rich cultural sights there are a few things you may want to acquaint yourself with before setting off in your car or campervan for your own bit of adventure. So to help you enjoy every moment of your holiday without any unforeseen stresses, we’ve put together this helpful list of FAQs for driving through the Scottish country side.

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands

Which side of the road should I drive on?

Though this is usually not a problem for those visiting the Scottish countryside from elsewhere in the UK, it is by far the most common question asked by guests visiting from across the pond and elsewhere throughout Europe.

The easy answer is on the left side.

Though this also means the vehicle itself is built differently to accommodate this variance, like all other vehicles manufactured with UK drivers in mind, the driver’s seat is shifted to the right. This may take a bit of getting used to for driver’s not accustomed to the difference but after a few drives behind the wheel, the change should be no problem.

What drivers licence do I need?

Fortunately you won’t need to acquire a driver’s licence issued by the UK’s DVLA to be able to legally operate a vehicle as long as you possess a valid licence issued within your home country, though there are two important things to note for visitors planning to get behind the wheel.

  1. For all those visiting Scotland from within the UK and the EU, your valid licence issued from your home country allow you to drive as you would within your own country, albeit obeying to UK laws such as speed limits.
  2. For those coming to holiday within Scotland from across the pond or from countries outside of the UK and EU, there is a limit of twelve months, beginning from your entry into the country, of legal operation.

For all the questions you may have on driving in Scotland and the UK as a whole. this page on the DVLA’s website will help you to answer them.

How fast are you legally able to drive on motorways and roads?

For the most part, driving speed limit signs will be posted along most of the road ways you will find will on holiday, just simply look out for the distinctive signage, circular signs surrounded by a red border with the limit posted in the middle. Though if the limit is specifically posted, it is safe to assume that the road way abides by the national limits, which happen to be:

  • The National speed limit is set at 96 kph or 60 mph for single carriageway roads.
  • On major duel carriageways and motorways for most vehicles limits are set at 112 kph or 70mph, though if you are making your way across the country in a caravan the limit is a bit lower at 96 kph or 60 mph.
  • Off of motorways and on roads within most cities, drivers are not to exceed speeds of 48 kph or 30 mph and just like major motorways, drivers of caravans and lorries must drive a bit slower for safety’s sake. Though it is not uncommon to see signage dictating limits of 32 kph or 20 mph on city road ways near residential neighbourhoods and schools.

What to do in the event of an accident on the road?

Certainly your safety is of utmost importance when involved in a road traffic accident. Whether you have been hit by another vehicle or crashed off of the road, if you or anybody with you is injured then you should call an ambulance by dialing 999. If other people have been involved and the accident is more than a minor one you will also need to call the police.

It is worth noting that the weather can be far colder than other parts of the UK so you should make sure you stay warm, even if you’re expecting the emergency services imminently.

You will also have to notify your insurance provider of the road accident so that they may be able to provide a replacement vehicle for the rest of your time driving through Scotland if you haven’t suffered any serious injury that prevents you from doing so.

The insurers might also suggest the services of a personal injury company to you should you have been injured in the accident because someone else was at fault. Compensation for road accidents is to help any innocent victims cover related expenses you might have had to payout as well as for any suffering and pain you have experienced. Claims Action provide more detailed information on road accident claims.

The AA provides good overall advice if you’re involved in a traffic accident and is worth printing off and keeping with you especially if you’re not familiar with UK laws.

Drinking and driving in Scotland, what does the law say?

Although drinking no alcohol at all is by far the best option you can still drive a vehicle if you’ve got alcohol in your system although it is set at a very low level which is why none is better than some.

It is important to note that Scotland has much more stringent regulations governing drinking and driving than other parts of the UK and certainly more stringent than those from across the pond.

Driving a vehicle within Scotland you must be sure to maintain a blood alcohol level of less than 50 mg per 100 ml of blood at the current time, so if you find yourself wanting to enjoy a drink while on holiday be sure to plan accordingly. Remember, it’s better to never consume alcohol at all if you plan on driving.