One of the best ways to see Ireland is a tour by car but before you hit the open road, there’s a few thing you need to know.
While the major highways are of a very high quality, the “real” Ireland is one of twisting country lanes. Driving on these lanes can be a pleasure with scenic treasures around every corner, but do not expect to get to your destination in record time!! You could find yourself stuck behind a herd of cows or a slow moving tractor, but your best option is to adopt the Irish “sure there’s plenty of time” attitude.
– Driving in Ireland is on the left hand side of the road and it is required that all passengers wear seat belts at all times in both the front and back of the vehicle.
– Seatbelts must be worn at all times by the driver and all passengers while driving in Ireland. Not wearing a seatbelt is considered an offence and can result in fines and penalties. Make sure you and your passengers buckle up before each journey.
– The general speed limit in Ireland is 50 km/h in urban areas (approx. 30 mph). Regional roads should be driven at 80km/h, national roads 100km/h, and motorways 120km/h.
– Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol is taken very seriously in Ireland and heavy penalties will be imposed on those found to be above the legal blood/alcohol limit.
– Roundabouts are very uncommon in the US but are a standard feature of Irish road networks. The rules for using roundabouts are simple: Yield to all vehicles coming from your right and always turn left on entering the roundabout.
– It is illegal to drive while using your cellphone in Ireland. Recent studies show that you are 4 times more likely to crash whilst using your mobile phone. It should also be noted that there are penalties enforced by the police for using your mobile phone while driving.
– When in Ireland be sure you know whether the fuel your vehicle takes is diesel or unleaded. Diesel is usually in the black pump while unleaded (petrol) is in the green pump. Be sure not to confuse these. By putting the wrong fuel in the wrong engine you could damage the car. Prices will vary between the petrol stations.
Ireland is famous for its colloquialisms. While these might make the country unique and interesting, people visiting Ireland may not be fully familiar. In case you find yourself stuck on a country road or are looking for information – here’s a couple of helpful translations:
- Petrol = Gasoline
- Petrol station = Gas station, or garage (for buying fuel)
- Number plate = License plate
- Bonnet = Hood
- Boot = Trunk
- Handbrake = Parking brake
- Footpath = Sidewalk, or pavement
- Car park = Parking lot
- Dual carriageway = Divided highway
- Motorway = Freeway
- Roundabout = Circle, or traffic circle
Tips for North American Drivers
Driving styles and regulations differ in every country and Ireland is quite different to North America. It usually takes between a few hours and a day to get used to a new driving environment, particularly if you have not driven in the country before.
The following are some tips to help you adjust:
* When you drive the car for the first time, drive around at the airport a few times to get familiar with the controls and driving on the left-hand side of the road
* Ensure you have a good map or GPS and ideally have someone other than the driver to navigate
* Take your time – drive slowly at first until you gain confidence. Watch the signs carefully!
* If you cross the road to park or to visit a gas station, be sure to return to a driving position on the left-hand side when you return to road!