A road trip through Ireland is an experience like no other. Picture yourself cruising along the winding country lanes, surrounded by breathtaking scenery at every turn. But before you embark on your Irish adventure, there’s one important thing to know: in Ireland, they drive on the left side of the road.
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A Delightful Mix of Scenic Highways and Quaint Country Lanes
Ireland may be known for its picturesque landscapes and historic sites, but its road network is still a work in progress. While major highways boast high-quality standards, secondary roads can be narrow, bumpy, and winding. The “real” Ireland reveals itself on these charming country lanes. So, don’t rush to your destination; instead, embrace the Irish motto of “sure there’s plenty of time.”
Navigating Traffic and Parking
In recent years, the number of cars on Irish roads has increased, leading to some traffic congestion and a rise in accidents. However, traffic jams are mainly confined to Dublin, so the rest of the country offers relatively smooth driving. When it comes to parking, beware of illegal spots. Vehicles parked in restricted areas are at risk of being clamped or impounded. Look out for single and double yellow lines on the sidewalk, indicating parking restrictions at certain times or complete no-parking zones.
Abiding by Driving Rules in the Emerald Isle
Safety is key when driving in Ireland. Remember to always wear your seat belt, both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Speed limits vary depending on the type of road, with national roads having a standard limit of 100 km/hr (~62.5 miles/hr) and motorways set to 120 km/hr (~75 miles/hr). In built-up areas, the speed limit is 50 km/hr (~30 miles/hr). It’s worth noting that in Northern Ireland, speeds are still measured in miles per hour.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is taken very seriously in Ireland, with strict penalties for those found above the legal limit. Roundabouts, a common feature of Irish road networks, may be unfamiliar to North American drivers. Remember to yield to vehicles on your right and take the first exit to your left when entering a roundabout. In case of emergencies or accidents, dial 999 for both police and ambulance services. Be sure to gather witness information and document the scene before contacting your rental company.
Tips for North American Drivers
Driving in Ireland can be a shift from the norm, especially for those accustomed to North American road rules. To help you adjust quickly, consider these helpful tips:
- If you usually drive an automatic, make sure to request one when booking your rental car.
- Take a few laps around the airport to familiarize yourself with the controls and driving on the left side of the road.
- Stick to major M and N roads initially to get acclimated to your vehicle and the driving environment.
- Have a reliable map or GPS and ideally, a co-pilot to assist with navigation.
- Take it slow and drive at a comfortable pace until you gain confidence. Pay attention to road signs.
- When parking or visiting a gas station, remember to return to the left-hand side of the road when you resume driving.
So, get ready for an unforgettable adventure as you explore the enchanting landscapes of Ireland. Remember, driving on the left side of the road may take some getting used to, but with a little patience and caution, you’ll be well on your way to discovering the wonders of the Emerald Isle.
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