Driving on the Isle of Man
Driving a car in the Isle of Man is broadly similar to driving in the United Kingdom, and most traffic regulations are the same. As in the UK people drive on the left hand side of the road.
Unlike the UK there is no national speed limit. There are speed restrictions in built up areas, but after passing a 'National Speed Limit' sign there ceases to be any speed restriction, although people driving in a reckless manner may well be stopped by the police.
The Isle of Man issues its own driving licenses and the minimum age for driving a car is 16. Anybody who moves to the island to live is required to obtain an Isle of Man driving license within 3 months of arrival.
The Isle of Man has a Reciprocal Driving Bans Agreement with the United Kingdom. From the 23rd May 2005, if you receive a driving disqualification in the Isle of Man, this will also apply in the UK. Any ban will only be lifted once the Isle of Man disqualification has ended. If you lose your licence for a motorcycle offence, this will also apply to any other vehicle licence you hold. Licensing Authorities of other Countries outside the UK and Northern Ireland will be notified of any disqualification issued in the Isle of Man.
As in the UK learner drivers are required to display a red L plate until qualified. A newly qualified driver is required to display a red R plate for the first year, during which they are restricted to travelling at no more than 50mph.
The Isle of Man operates its own vehicle registration scheme. Registration plates follow a similar pattern to those of the UK and more recent plates also include the three legs and the letters GBM. New residents of the island are required to register their vehicle. Isle of Man registration plates are issued in a random manner and do not indicate the age of the vehicle.
A useful item to obtain upon arrival on the island is a parking disc. Many built up areas around the island have been zoned for parking and drivers are required to indicate the time of their arrival using the disc. A nearby sign will indicate whether you are in a zoned parking area, and the duration for which a visitor may remain parked (normally around 2 hours). Parking discs are available at the Sea Terminal, the airport information desk and at tourist information points.
It is important to note that driving whilst using a mobile phone is a criminal offence in the Isle of Man, and to do so can attract a fine of up to 1,000 pounds. The local papers are a testament to the fact that this law is actively enforced and people are regularly convicted.
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