Driving on Single Track Roads

One area that some visitors to Scotland and other areas where they exist have difficulty understanding are the rules and etiquette that apply to single track roads. 

I‘m sure this doesn’t apply to MX-5 drivers who are all courteous road users and understand the environment they drive in. I post the attached link for you to share with anyone uninitiated in this practice.


Rule 155 of the Highway Code also gives this advice.

Single-track roads. These are only wide enough for one vehicle. They may have special passing places. If you see a vehicle coming towards you, or the driver behind wants to overtake, pull into a passing place on your left, or wait opposite a passing place on your right. Give way to vehicles coming uphill whenever you can. If necessary, reverse until you reach a passing place to let the other vehicle pass. Slow down when passing pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

To which might be added -‘and don’t even think about driving in multi car convoys on single tracks . Not only does it looks utterly tragic, it annoys and inconveniences other road users , especially locals’

And,     do not try and keep up with local delivery drivers no matter what they are driving, especially post vans!!!

Yep. You will have trouble keeping up with any local delivery driver or even bin wagons on the NC500. We followed a bin wagon for about twelve miles at a considerable pace. He was on his way to empty two bins at a house in the middle of nowhere, only to turn around after the pickup and go back the way he came. Twenty four mile round trip for one house on single track roads 

We came across quite a few idiots who just would not pull over. One was a motorhome driving at 15 to 20 mph who held up a large queue of vehicles including a Highways Agency truck, a Post Office van, a number of motorbikes and myself in the MX5  . When he did eventually pull over, after many many miles, the Highways Agency man pulled up alongside the motorhome and gave the driver a right rollicking . All the other drivers cheered and hooted their horns. Do these people not realise that other people on the road have jobs to do and schedules to keep to. He could clearly see the highways agency truck with its yellow flashing lights and all the rest of the vehicles queuing behind him. I have driven a campervan on the NC500 and pulled over at the first opportunity if another vehicle appeared behind me, which didn’t happen very often I must admit .

Done the route twice now (NC500) and heading up there again this year. We’ve done May & Sept again we go Sept this year, dread to think what it’s like mid summer around the route, not too bad for traffic when we were there.

I like to take my time and soak up the views I hate it when I have someone on my tail, always let them through. On the other hand Mr Tesco delivery driver nearly ran us off the road 2 years ago, he was much nearer to a passing point than us and no way was he going to stop or even slow down. Last year we pulled over with hot brakes, my fault for over doing it on the way back from Applecross, a council truck pulled up to see if we needed assistance so it’s just the odd ones that don’t seem to give a dam.

I’d say on the whole we have been ok with other drivers, do the right things and follow the rules of the road and watch out for the animals on the road.

I can’t help bemoaning the success of the NC500 - I have been driving up there since the early 80s and, until everybody and their dog wanted an NC 500 sticker, it wasn’t unusual to drive for anything up to 30 minutes (and once a full hour ) without seeing another car . Last time I went up there I cringed at some of the idiots in supercar convoys who showed not a scrap of consideration for locals or anyone else . It is a wonderful part of the country , unlike anywhere else and it is to be appreciated , not violated

OK so first an example of the pace of the local drivers in the Highlands! It wasn’t on a single track road so a bit off topic but it involved a bus and three mX-5s. It was on the A87 so far as I can recall, heading North. It was raining, so no surprise there, but the three MX-5s were making good time given the road conditions, and then appeared a local bus in the rear view mirror of the last car in the short convoy. Front MX-5 reacts to this and speeds up a bit, then speeds up a bit more, but the bus still looms large in the mirrors of all three MX-5s. In the end we pulled over and let it pass, there was no way we could safely pull away from it, he was simply a lot faster than we were!

Next my experience of single track roads in the highlands. First of all you meet an awful of of small, newish hatchbacks, which I presume are all hire cars, and are the very worst in terms of etiquette on such roads. So watch out for those particularly if they are heading towards you. Two things have happened to me on several occasions. Being an observant driver I assess the situation and will always pull over at first passing space if i see a car ahead. Sometimes however you see the car, and you see the passing place ahead and the other car is much closer to it so they are obliged to pull in. Its a very common occurrence though for the car coming towards you to sail right past the space and keeping heading for you, because they can’t see further than the end of their bonnet, and you end up meeting head on! Its then a tricky maneuver on to the verge or someone end up going backwards!

The other thing that’s happened to me on a few occasions is you meet said small new hatchback at a passing place or perhaps on a wider corner where you can pass each other and instead of the other car veering to their left so you pass off side to off side, they veer right heading straight for you before realising they are in fact in the UK and we drive on the left hand side of the road. I guess for someone who’s only on UK roads for a weeks holiday in an unfamiliar car, and ends up on single track roads, the mindset is such that its easy to forget which side you should be driving on!  






Yes I always feel slightly guilty when visiting special places like this where hordes of tourists clearly detract.   

We did the NC500 last May, but I don’t have a sticker.  I won’t do it again, although we enjoyed it.  There are many other equally good, but unpromoted, routes.  In fact I don’t think routes like this should be promoted - if it works, it just ruins them anyway. 

If anybody catches me on a single track road, I let them past - no question.  I just wish everybody else did the same thing, few do.