This article will show people how to navigate road maps in the United Kingdom. Many motorists use road Atlases published by the Automobile Association, the national motoring body, to navigate their way across the UK's cities, towns and villages. Meanwhile, more motorists are also using the Satnav device, which uses an interactive route planner system and GPS.
Using an atlas
Atlases are widely available in petrol stations, supermarkets and service centres.
They are inexpensive, easy to use and are usually up-to-date, depending on the edition and the year they are published.
Foreign visitors to the UK who are unfamiliar with the UK's road network should note that the word 'motorway' is the equivalent of a US highway or a German Autobahn. Information about AA atlases can be found on the AA.com or the website of the RAC motoring organisation, another national motoring body.
Names for different roads
An 'A' road is a major road that usually connects villages and towns, whereas a motorway is a faster link between major cities (for example, the M5 motorway between Birmingham and Bristol).
Meanwhile, a 'B' road is often found in the countryside and is fairly narrow, connecting smaller hamlets and villages and usually comprising of twisty bends.
A 'C' road is a narrow, single lane road that is usually only suitable for cars and small vans.
OS maps also provide important information about the physical geography of local areas, such as elevation and water features.
Google Earth - an invaluable tool for UK road navigation
The basics of Google Earth
The Streetmap service of the Google Earth site allows users to see a photographic, 3-dimensional view of their local streets.
It is excellent for people driving to areas that they are unfamiliar with and addresses that are confusing to navigate on maps by the AA or world maps.
People can save photos of Streetview onto their phones and will find it much easier to recognise that they have arrived at the correct destination as opposed to observing a map. However, people who do get lost and do not have a Satnav in their possession can contact the AA if they are a member of the association.
A qualified AARoadwatch official can offer help to motorists who are lost or have experienced problems with their vehicles.