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Travel Tips 1
When to Visit
Northern Ireland 

How to Drive
 
Driving Laws
Australians drive on the left hand side of the road. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 30mph and on country roads and highways it is 60 mph unless signs indicate otherwise. Strict drink-driving laws apply. Seat belts must be worn by drivers and passengers at all times.

Driving Licenses
Tourists may drive in Northern Ireland on a valid overseas drivers license for the same class of vehicle. Licenses must be carried when driving, in addition to a valid passport. An International Drivers Permit is not sufficient by itself and must be accompanied by a valid drivers permit.

Gasoline (Petrol)
Leaded and unleaded grades are sold by the litre. Gas (petrol) costs between £1.00 - £1.10 per litre. Prices are often higher in country areas.  The main supermarkets in Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda have a large share of the market and their prices are typically one or two pence less than the independent station.   
 
Fuel Laundering
What is fuel laundering you may ask?  Well, it is rife in Northern Ireland although the Taxman is cracking down on it.  Fuel laundering is when much cheaper farm fuel (dyed red) from the Republic of Ireland is smuggled into Northern Ireland.  This much cheaper fuel is processed illegally to remove the red dye from the fuel so that it can be sold in Northern Ireland as normal fuel.  The process of removing the red dye is quite a dangerous and if done wrong the fuel can actually burn out and cause extreme damage to your car engine which is then NOT covered by insurance.  One way to spot illegal fuel is to be wary of petrol prices that are much lower than all other petrol stations in the area.  You know the saying – if it looks too good to be true it probably is!  Always be careful where you buy fuel; we aim to always buy our fuel at the larger brand names. 

Cars
Most cars you can hire are going to be standard transmissions.  If you want an automatic transmission, you need to ensure you request this when you originally place your reservation. 
 
Roundabouts
For most North Americans that visit Northern Ireland, the roundabouts could be a new adventure in themselves.  There are very few stop signs in Northern Ireland; instead they use a system of roundabouts.  The roundabout is basically a rolling stop.  You should enter the roundabout when the traffic is clear on the roundabout and it is safe for you to enter.  In essence, you must yield to drivers already on the roundabout.  You must also ensure that you are in the correct lane when approaching the roundabout (if there are two lanes or more); if you want to go right at the roundabout, you should be in the right lane.  If you want to go straight, you should watch the roadmarkings as the flow of traffic may depend on the roundabout.  You should never attempt to go right at the roundabout from the left lane as if you cause an accident you are at fault! 
 
Speed Cameras
Speed cameras are everywhere in Northern Ireland; there are mobile speed cameras which a policeman will operate from his car or a van, or there are static speed cameras at fixed locations.  When you are driving a rental car, the car rental company will receive the penalty notice a few weeks after the date of the offence which will then be charged onto your visa.  Fixed speed camera positions always have a warning to drivers so please beware of these signs. 
 
Roadmanner
There’s no mystery to safe driving on Northern Irelands smaller roads, just use your common sense.

1. Slow down, relax, and take it easy. Most fatal accidents are related to people driving too fast and often drunk.
2. When another vehicle is approaching on a narrow road, slow down and stop. Wait and see what the other person does. Then act.  If you are on a hill, the Traffic Act would dictate that the person going up the hill has the right of way as it is harder for them to manage a stick shift transmission going up a hill. 
3. Stop at train crossings when lights are flashing; it should be noted that not all of Northern Ireland’s train crossings have barriers so lights flashing are your only way of knowing if a train is coming.  People are killed every year as they try and beat a train. 
4.  Some of the cycle and walking trails in Northern Ireland follow roads; please beware of bicycles and people walking.    
5.  People in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that are beginner drivers must place an “R” or “L” sign in the back window of their car and they are not to drive on motorways.  If you see these marks, be extra careful as the driver probably is not as experienced as you are. 



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