January 24, 2021
US vs. UK: How cars, roads and driving are different

US vs. UK: How cars, roads and driving are different

We get a lot of questions about the differences in driving in the US versus the UK. That whole “wrong side of the road” thing barely scratches the surface. So we pulled together two seasoned experts from the Roadshow team who sometimes scratch their heads over driving in each other’s country. 

UK vs. US roads

North Wales or Malibu? Driving in the UK or the US offers many clearly enticing roads, but knowing the rules and practices on them is not so obvious.


Here are a few things you should know about driving on the other side of the Atlantic, taken from an enjoyable talk between two experts on the roads in their respective countries: Drew Stearne, executive editor of Roadshow in London, and Brian Cooley, editor at large of Roadshow in San Francisco. 

Drew Stearne and Brian Cooley

Drew Stearne (left) and Brian Cooley (right). They love driving in each other’s country, but don’t always understand it.

Lisa Keating/Roadshow

  • Speeding tickets: Common in the US, but you’ll seldom get pulled over for one in the UK. They have cameras for that. 
  • Front license plates: Hated in the US, never given a second thought in the UK, as they are ubiquitous — and not as ugly as US plates. 
  • Right turn on a red light: Almost ubiquitous in the US, unheard of in the UK. Bear that in mind if you’re heading to the UK from the US to drive. 
  • Passing: Completely chaotic in the US, somewhat more orderly in the UK. But neither enjoy the discipline of drivers in much of the continent. 
  • Insurance: Largely tied to the driver in the US and portable to whatever car they drive. In the UK, insurance is tied to the combination of driver and car, making using another car much more difficult.

Those are the stark ones, but some fascinating surprises await you in the video above. It’s a must watch before you head across the Atlantic to drive for the first time. 

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