How to drive on single track roads in Scotland

Thinking about visiting a Scottish island or going somewhere up north but you’re a bit nervous about driving on single track roads? Keep reading to find out how to safely manoeuvre these roads before you go so you can spend your holiday stress-free!

What is a single track road?

A single track road is a road which is only wide enough for one vehicle, meaning that two cars can’t pass each other.

How to drive on a single track road

Take care when driving on these roads as they can be very narrow, you will need to concentrate and keep your eyes on the road and on your mirrors!

Keep to the left-hand side

Always keep to the left of the road – this might seem odd as it will feel like you are in the middle of the road but try to keep as left as you can. This way, if someone approaches and you haven’t seen them, you have more chance of not bumping each other.

Be prepared to stop

Single track roads can be twisty so you won’t always have a clear view of what’s coming up. Always be prepared to stop as you never know when a vehicle is going to appear but there also could be people walking, cyclists and horse riders. You might even see some farmyard friends!

Use passing places

Passing places are your friend. Without them, you would probably still be sitting on a single track road! Passing places are marked by diamond-shaped signs that will say passing place on them or they will be black and white posts.

You should use passing places when another vehicle is coming in the opposite direction to let them pass. You should also use the passing places if you are driving slowly and there is traffic building up behind you. Locals will be much more used to these roads than you, so it is polite to stop in a passing place and allow the vehicles to overtake you.

You should never park in a passing place or stop to take a photo or look at the view. People need to use these places to safely manoeuvre the roads.

Who should use the passing place?

If you are driving along a single track road and you spot a car ahead, whoever is closest to a passing place (which is on their side) will need to go into it even if that means reversing into it.

If the passing place is not on your side, stop your car next to the passing place so that the oncoming car can then drive into the passing place and you can both get around each other.

Drive a vehicle you can comfortably reverse

To get into a passing place you might have to reverse, so you should be comfortable with reversing in the vehicle you will be driving. Sometimes the passing places on these single track roads can be right on the edge so it’s important that you’ve got some practise at reversing.

Don’t drive in a convoy

If you are travelling as a group and there are a lot of cars, don’t travel too close together as there’s not a lot of room in passing places for many cars. Keep a good distance between the cars and make sure you all have the directions so you’re not relying on following each other.

To recap

  • Stay to the left of the road
  • Use passing places to let people overtake you
  • Never park in a passing place
  • Only use a passing place that’s on your side of the road, never drive into a passing place on the opposite side
  • Drive a vehicle you’re comfortable reversing in
  • Give a friendly wave to thank other people who have waited for you

Once you’re more comfortable with driving on single track roads, you will soon get into a rhythm with it. Driving on these roads won’t be as scary if you follow the above advice – I hope you have lots of fun and safe travels!

Check out this video from 1973 with a little song about driving on single track roads! You can also find information on single track roads under Rule 155 and 156 of the Highway Code.