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Driving in the UK from an American POV

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nevets88

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Don't know the exact model of the car I rented, an Octavia 4 door sedan, rental guy (who looked and sounded like one of the assassins in a Jason Borne movie said it was equivalent to a VW Passat or Jetta.

  • In stop and go traffic, the engine auto shuts off when at rest. Radio and A/C stay on. When you engage the shifter or clutch, turn the wheel, car auto turns on. In the US, I sometimes did this manually, shut off the car when I knew we were going to be at a complete rest for a bit. Great gas and environmentally friendly feature. I wonder about the wear and tear on the starter though.
  • Car recovers from stall outs much quicker. If you let go of the clutch while the car is in gear, not as much lurch.
  • Love the yellow and red lights on simultaneously to indicate green is coming.
  • Road closures in London are crazy, plays havoc with GPS directions.
  • The only step up to an automatic is 75 pounds a day, a Mercedes Benz, what a way to extract money. No thank you, please don't buy me a Mercedes Benz Janis.
  • Rest stops (called Services) on the major highways have a motel, like a Days Inn, for example, attached to them.
  • There's a dichotomy, between saving gas - manual transmission and people cruising around 80-85mph, some going much faster, on the fast lane on your motorways. To me, that's more an income distribution divide than a driving style one.
  • The English countryside is beautiful. There is nothing like it in the US. The verdant greens and bucolic vistas are something. I've seen them before, but they're still breathtaking.
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Love the yellow and red lights on simultaneously to indicate green is coming

So is the phasing like this then? 

Red
Yellow - Red
Green
Blinking Green
Yellow
Red

I read they blink the green as well as to indicate the light is changing to red. 

I know in Massachusetts and I think in Brooklyn they have Yellow-Red for when they have diagonal crosswalks for pedestrians. 

An issue for that in the US would be people trying to time the signal to make the light. 

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51 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

So is the phasing like this then? 

Red
Yellow - Red
Green
Blinking Green
Yellow
Red

No they just go back from green, to yellow then to red. They don't flash green.

Basically, yellow and red is a 'don't move yet, but get ready, green is coming'

Yellow by itself is 'ok you may be too close to stop safely as it was green as you were approaching, so you can go through (no red light), but it'll be red any second now'. 

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7 hours ago, Pete said:

No they just go back from green, to yellow then to red. They don't flash green.

Basically, yellow and red is a 'don't move yet, but get ready, green is coming'

Yellow by itself is 'ok you may be too close to stop safely as it was green as you were approaching, so you can go through (no red light), but it'll be red any second now'. 

There are also the blinking yellows.

The red lights on the bridges to London center seem like forever. I normally prefer public transit, but for reasons out of my control, needed a car in the city. Total headache. Worse than NYC.

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13 hours ago, nevets88 said:

There are also the blinking yellows.

That is probably at a pedestrian crossing - after red it means if there is nobody crossing cars can start moving again but you have to give way if you see a walker.  It is probably designed to get traffic moving again if there is nobody crossing, rather than just having cars stopped at red waiting for an empty crossing.

 

13 hours ago, nevets88 said:

needed a car in the city.

Did you get told about the congestion charge and how to pay it?

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Couple things:

1.  Wouldn't the constant starts use more gas than sitting idle because of the burst of gas from the fuel injectors?

2.  Loved the roundabouts there, so much more efficient than 4-way stops.

3.  Was surprised how quick I got used to driving on the right and shifting with my left.

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2 hours ago, ZappyAd said:

Did you get told about the congestion charge and how to pay it?

Congestion charge is why I went during the weekend. You'd figure Sunday morning wouldn't be too bad, it was god awful. 

Was thinking about taking the train in and then Zipcar-ing it to avoid the congestion charge, there are Zipcars within the congestion zone, but I'd rather shoot myself.

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15 hours ago, Gunther said:

Couple things:

1.  Wouldn't the constant starts use more gas than sitting idle because of the burst of gas from the fuel injectors?

They definitely save fuel; the problem is the wear on the starter and the battery requirements:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/08/automobiles/wheels/start-stop-technology-is-coming-to-cars-like-it-or-not.html

On ‎7‎/‎11‎/‎2016 at 7:30 AM, saevel25 said:

An issue for that in the US would be people trying to time the signal to make the light. 

Big-time.  In the two cities I've lived in (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), any indication that a light is about to turn green would be an invitation to vehicular manslaughter.

When my wife and I visited London, we ended up using public transit and just walking (average was probably nearly 10 miles per day)...my only regret about our visit (one week) was that I didn't get a car for one day just to try it.

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They pass you from the opposite side at high speeds with the narrowest of margins. Inches. Drivers know the dimensions of their cars  

Also, there are far fewer opportunities to pull over and look at the gps. There are far fewer shoulders. Much less space. 

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FWIW, my Ford Fusion hybrid is constantly stopping and starting its motor. It is all unobtrusive, as the start does not feel like a traditional car start where you crank the key. When the car needs more power than it gets from the battery (or if it needs to charge the battery), the engine quietly kicks back in. 

Hard to say why, but I just feel like it doesn't take a lot of energy to start it. It's almost seamless. I used to doubt whether that made sense to shut down the engine like it does, but the engine does stay off for long enough, that it must make sense.

I've gotten 38/39mpg now for years, so that says something.

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2 hours ago, RandallT said:

FWIW, my Ford Fusion hybrid is constantly stopping and starting its motor. It is all unobtrusive, as the start does not feel like a traditional car start where you crank the key. When the car needs more power than it gets from the battery (or if it needs to charge the battery), the engine quietly kicks back in. 

Hard to say why, but I just feel like it doesn't take a lot of energy to start it. It's almost seamless. I used to doubt whether that made sense to shut down the engine like it does, but the engine does stay off for long enough, that it must make sense.

I've gotten 38/39mpg now for years, so that says something.

 

10 hours ago, Hardspoon said:

They definitely save fuel; the problem is the wear on the starter and the battery requirements:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/08/automobiles/wheels/start-stop-technology-is-coming-to-cars-like-it-or-not.html

Big-time.  In the two cities I've lived in (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), any indication that a light is about to turn green would be an invitation to vehicular manslaughter.

When my wife and I visited London, we ended up using public transit and just walking (average was probably nearly 10 miles per day)...my only regret about our visit (one week) was that I didn't get a car for one day just to try it.

I don't mind the start/stop feature, not as anywhere near annoying as that one person in the NYT article says. I estimate in the stop and go traffic I was in, the engine was off for at least 20 minutes - that's a lot of time you're not burning fuel, polluting the environment. Even in small cities and the countryside (train crossings) it's useful. It doesn't prevent you from getting going when the light turns green. 

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About a year ago, I visited Australia and New Zealand and did a fair amount of driving there (they also drive on the left side of the road). The only thing that was difficult for me was that the turn signal and windshield wiper levers were flipped. So whenever I tried to signal for a turn, I ended up turning the wipers on. My wife thought it was hilarious.

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Love the parking lots that read your tags, then you input tag in a machine, pay when you go, leave as camera reads your plates and it knows you paid. Totally automatic w/the app. 

Your typical two way one lane road in the country. Just barely enough for two cars to pass, only one in portions. That's a compact sized car in the photo.

image.jpeg

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17 minutes ago, nevets88 said:

Your typical two way one lane road in the country. Just barely enough for two cars to pass, only one in portions. That's a compact sized car in the photo.

While in Ireland, the GPS sent us down a few roads that would make the one in the photo look like a superhighway.  Tree branches brushing the sides of the car on BOTH sides, you had to find a driveway if you met someone coming the other way.  But we found that the Irish drivers were consistently polite and considerate, and if someone needed to back up a bit to find a wide spot, it was no problem.  Maybe its because the standard transmissions make texting and phoning virtually impossible, so they're actually paying attention to the driving.

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1 hour ago, DaveP043 said:

While in Ireland, the GPS sent us down a few roads that would make the one in the photo look like a superhighway.  Tree branches brushing the sides of the car on BOTH sides, you had to find a driveway if you met someone coming the other way.  But we found that the Irish drivers were consistently polite and considerate, and if someone needed to back up a bit to find a wide spot, it was no problem.  Maybe its because the standard transmissions make texting and phoning virtually impossible, so they're actually paying attention to the driving.

Ran into those super skinny hedge surrounded roads as well. I'm glad I didn't have to back up in one. Drivers here are very considerate.  Here's one of the two way roads with the hedges.

image.jpeg

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