DRIVING IN SCOTLAND

The Essential Guide

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Driving in Scotland is a very enjoyable experience, however there are several things to keep in mind to ensure you and other road users travel safely. 

We’ve pulled together a list of recommendations based on our first-hand experience, from fuel and weather conditions, to single track roads and Scottish wildlife. 

Fuel

Fuel in Scotland can be more expensive than other European countries, however as the country is small you’ll might use less fuel to travel around than you would in other countries.

All of Roseisle’s campervans run on diesel. At fuel stations these are typically the black pumps (not green). Be sure to use the right pump!

If you accidentally fuel up with petrol instead of diesel, do not turn on the engine and call The Fuel Doctor on 0333 444 9000.

Scotland has plenty of fuel stations however in the Highlands, Islands and rural areas there can be large distances between them. Be sure to factor fuel stops into your journey and check the fuel station’s opening times to ensure it isn’t closed when you need it.

Most fuel stations in Scotland are self-service and many of them offer ‘pay at pump,’ using credit or debit card. 

Speed Limits

In the UK, speed limits are displayed in miles per hour (mph):

  • Urban areas: general speed limit is 20 mph (32 km/hr) or 30 mph (48 km/hr)
  • Single carriageways: 60 mph (96 km/hr)
  • Motorways and dual carriageways: 70 mph (112 km/hr)

Please be aware that fixed, average and mobile speed cameras may be positioned on many roads.

Drive to the road conditions. Many rural roads cannot be driven safely at the full speed limit. 

Tolls

Since the Scottish Government abolished tolls in 2008, there are no longer any toll roads or toll bridges in Scotland. 

Rules Of The Road

Knowing the rules of the road is essential for a campervan hire in Scotland.

  • All passengers must wear safety belts. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure this.
  • Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first. Children over 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.
  • It is illegal to use a phone/cell phone while driving – so pull over before making any calls. 
  • Drinking and driving laws are strict in Scotland. The Scottish Government advises not to drink any alcohol when planning to drive.
  • Overtake on the right unless there is a steady solid white line which means no overtaking.
  • Always remember to take regular breaks whilst driving, especially when traveling long distances.
  • In some part of Scotland, road signs are displayed in both English and Gaelic.

Weather Conditions

Scotland is famous for its unpredictable weather. We highly recommend checking the weather and road conditions before embarking on a long drive – especially through the Cairngorms. For up-to-date information about roads and driving conditions in Scotland visit Traffic Scotland. When it comes to weather in Scotland – expect the unexpected!

Parking

Parking is allowed wherever you see a blue sign marked with a white ‘P.’ Passing places are not designed for parking – so avoid using them for long stays.

Double yellow lines mean no parking at any time. Double red lines mean no stopping at any time. Single yellow lines mean parking restrictions apply. Single red lines mean stopping restrictions apply. Look for additional signage for details.

It is permissible to park on the street unless indicated otherwise. Be sure to check for permit parking, loading, pay and display, or other restrictions first.  

Please refer to the official guide for more details.

Driving on the Left

Always drive on the left in Scotland. Pay extra attention at junctions, crossroads and roundabouts. 

If you are more familiar with driving on the right, check your road position occasionally. Take care on roads which are narrow, winding and switch from single carriageway to single track without warning. 

Roundabouts

Scotland is full of roundabouts. The rules are simple. Always turn left onto a roundabout and give way to traffic approaching from the right. Some roundabouts have traffic lights, including on the roundabout.

Road Hazards

Roads are generally in good condition in Scotland however some are plagued by potholes and disintegrating edges. 

Roads can be narrow and winding, particularly in more remote areas, and some bridges are only wide enough for one car at a time. Check for right of way signs and exercise caution.

Be careful when approaching blind summits and corners, or hidden dips, as there may be oncoming traffic, slow moving vehicles or animals on the road.

Please familiarise yourself with UK road signs  so you are aware of potential hazards.

Single track roads

Single track (one lane) roads are very common in rural areas, especially in the Scottish Highlands. 

If you want to let a vehicle pass you, pull into one of the passing places on your left (these are often marked by white ‘passing place’ signs, but not always).

If the closest passing place is on your right and you reach it first, stop on the left side of the road (opposite the passing place) to let the vehicle pass on the right. 

Give way to vehicles coming uphill when possible and if necessary, reverse until you reach a passing place to let the other vehicle pass.

In Scotland it is customary to give a friendly ‘thank you’ wave or flash of your lights if another car has let you pass.

Scottish Wildlife

You should expect to encounter animals on Scotland’s roads. Deer can be especially dangerous and are known to jump in front of vehicles, causing extensive damage.

Sheep are common on rural roads and will generally disperse if you approach slowly. Some parts of Scotland have warning signs for squirrels or frogs on the road. Follow these recommendations for your safety:

  • If you see animal warning road signs (i.e. deer), lower your speed and stay vigilant, especially in wooded and rural areas.
  • If you see glowing eyes on or by the roadside, exercise the same caution as if you had seen a warning road sign.
  • Keep your headlights on full beam when you can, but dip them if you see deer, to reduce the risk of them ‘freezing in the headlights.’
  • Stay calm and prepare yourself to stop suddenly if you see deer on the road. Avoid suddenly swerving as it could be hazardous to you and other road users. 

In the event of a collision with a deer (involving your vehicle or another):

  • stop your vehicle in as safe a place as possible 
  • turn on your hazard lights
  • if you have to stop on a motorway or dual carriageway, try to pull to the side of the road or hard shoulder, exit the vehicle and make your way as far up the verge as possible until help arrives
  • call the police on 999 to report the accident
  • call Roseisle 24/7 support for roadside assistance

It is worth noting that many rural areas in Scotland have no mobile phone signal, so check your provider’s coverage before you travel.

A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Hire in Scotland

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DISCLAIMER: This article has been produced for guidance only and does not constitute advice. Copyright © 2020 Roseisle Luxury Campervans