Okay, maybe never is a strong word. But honestly, I have no desire to learn how to drive in the UK.
Back in the States, I am a licensed and confident driver. My mom taught me how to drive in parking lots and cemeteries, I went to the BMV and passed my tests on the first try, and I spent almost a decade happily driving without a care in the world.
Sure, there was that one time a cop pulled me over in my driveway for speeding on the way home because I needed to pee and there was also that one minor incident where I hit a car in front of me that slammed on its brakes, but apart from that, driving in the States for me was not a problem.
But here in the UK? Heck no. I have no desire to drive on these roads. Why?
Nothing is clear.
I am sure for those who have lived here their entire lives, things mostly make sense, but for an outsider like me absolutely nothing is clear.
Street signs can be hard to find. They’re not just visibly placed on corners like in the States. They’re attached to buildings, low to the ground, and sometimes nowhere to be found. Sure, I’d likely rely on my phone to tell me when to turn so that wouldn’t be a huge issue, but finding street signs shouldn’t require so much work!
Plus, for someone like me, the roads themselves aren’t clear. You really can’t go wrong living where I did in the States. The lanes are clearly marked, you pretty much only encounter street lights or stop signs, and everything is as simple as can be. Here, the roads go every which way and it can sometimes be hard for me to wrap my head around which lane I should be in to get to a certain place or how certain lanes connect to each other across intersections.
For instance, last Friday I accompanied Dave’s mom to the grocery store. On the way back, we drove towards an intersection with street lights, but instead of turning at the intersection like we would in the States, the left lane veered off just before the lights so that you could merge onto that road without stopping. But because it was still right by the streetlights (which were red) and nothing is clear, the car in front of us stopped. Next thing you know there’s a line of cars behind him all honking and complaining, because to everyone else it’s a given that you just keep moving along. But in my mind, the guy who stopped was right! I would’ve done the same! You’re practically at an intersection and the light is red and cars are coming across that way. There was no yield and merge sign. How was he supposed to know?
(Honestly, incidents like that definitely don’t do anything to my confidence. I have no desire to be the one getting cussed at just because things aren’t clear.)
The roads aren’t straight.
Now I understand that this isn’t something that the Brits can’t really change, but boy are these roads curvy and nonsensical. We could be driving to a destination five minutes north but take so many turns on the way that I have absolutely no clue how we got there.
I actually don’t mind roundabouts, so that’s not a problem, but I really wish the roads were more of a grid like in the States. It’s just another one of those things that makes it really easy to always know where you’re at. Here I just feel like I’m constantly navigating a maze. If it weren’t for Google Maps I’d never find my way home.
Everything is so SMALL.
The cars are small. The lanes are small. The parking spots are small.
The fact that drivers constantly have to pull over to the side of the road to let oncoming traffic pass because many side streets are only big enough for one car to pass at a time is ridiculous to me. There’s so much dodging and weaving going on. And even when doing that it’s still a tight fit for cars to pass sometimes!
And don’t even get me started on parallel parking. My driver’s test required me to parallel park, but I only had to do so behind one car. There was no small gap to try to carefully manuever myself into. I just pulled up to the car, spun the wheel around and reversed into the spot with nothing behind me, and I was good to go. Here there’s these tiny spots where you have to go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth to wedge in. It blows my mind. I have absolutely no desire to put my parallel parking skills to the test in such way. I’m pretty sure I’d fail.
I can’t drive a stick shift.
Have you seen that trailer for The Spy Who Dumped Me? The two American women get in a car to do a speedy getaway while in Europe only to realise it’s a stick shift which neither can drive? Yup, that’d be the same for me if I were to get in a car over here.
Sure, you can get an automatic over here – they’re not completely unheard of – but manual cars seem to be the norm. Having never driven one in my past, I definitely don’t want to try to do so in a country with tiny roads and lots of drivers. No thanks.
I have no NEED to drive here.
Lastly, let’s be honest, I’ll never drive in the UK because there’s no need for me to drive in the UK. Sure, it’d be a little easier to get around the outskirts of London where I currently live. But for the most part I meet friends and do my working stuff (haha, what work?) in Central London. Public transportation is all you need.
Plus, traveling on a bus or train means I always have time to read or draw. At least I get to do something a little more productive during my travels than just focus on the road!
Have you experienced the roads around London before? Are they totally fine to you or are you put off by them as well? How do you feel about driving where you live? Let me know in the comments below! I’m curious if I’m just being overly dramatic or if others out there can relate.