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Surviving driving in London


The city may be home to Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and Tower Bridge, but within it resides some of the most crowded roads across the country

Despite London’s effective Public Transport System, 80% of all journeys are still being made by road. Due to the increase in the city’s population, vehicle congestion is at a peak. Despite efforts by the management of London’s road networks, including the TfL, to tackle the issue, movement on the road seems to remain difficult. Luckily for you, there are ways to surviving driving in London.

Congestion charge: There is no avoiding the charge – if you are driving your vehicle within the charge zone between 7:00 and 18:00 on Monday-Friday, you must pay £11.50 prior to your travel. If you have not paid the charge before entering the specified zones, you will be sent a fine of £130. Prevent the penalty by paying beforehand – if you are travelling through these zones frequently, you can even receive a discounted charge by using auto pay.

Keep clear: When you see a yellow box or a box on the road stating ‘KEEP CLEAR’, avoid it at all costs. These yellow boxes are placed strategically to assist the movement of traffic, and the stopping of vehicles within this area is strictly prohibited. If this rule is breached, you could receive a Penalty Charge Notice.

Bus lanes: The taxi driver ahead of you may be driving the exact same vehicle, but he holds different rights that may allow him to use certain bus lanes – and you can’t. However, outside of operational hours (these will be specified on signage around the lanes), anyone can use bus lanes. They can be an effective way of reducing congestion.

Red routes: The best way of escaping red route penalties? Avoid them. At all costs.

Planning and preparation: Check road closures and ongoing work before you begin your journey. This will help you avoid entering a situation where a road is blocked by planning your route ahead.

Parking: Different streets will have different parking rules. Be aware of the signs placed around the parking areas and make sure you are following them.

Cyclists: The city of London boasts the highest number of cyclists, but as a driver, this means you must be extra vigilant whilst on the crowded roads. Cyclists use their agility to weave between the traffic and stay ahead, so keep an eye on your mirrors before taking off.

Use public transport: The best tip to survive the London drive? Don’t. The city boasts a highly effective transport network, and the night tube development partnered with the consistently improving bus transport system, it may well prove to be quicker, cheaper and less frustrating.

Maintenance: Avoid breaking down in the middle of busy central London by ensuring that your vehicle is always well maintained. Fuel up before entering congested areas, deal with any display errors imminently and make sure your boot is well prepared for any emergencies.

Stay calm: Despite all the tips above, it is well and truly impossible to avoid the congestion of London permanently. If you travel regularly in the city, you will no doubt be met with frustrating traffic situations – just remember, it is all part and parcel of living in the city.