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Driving Lesson Regarding Left And Right Turns

Turning at road junctions causes the major proportion of accidents. Right turns are worst because of the added risk of conflict with other road users whose paths need to be crossed.

Going In Front Of Other People

Every time you pull out on to a major road, cross it, or turn right off it, your movements could conflict with those of other drivers who have right of way.

The acid test, which you must always ask yourself before going, is - will any such person already coming along the major road be forced to slow down? If they will, do not go! The Highway Code rule is that you must never cause anyone to have to slow down. Wait, unless the only others involved are clearly waiting for you - confirmed by seeing beyond doubt that they are stopping.

It follows that when you cross someone's right of way even in good time, you must be certain you can get clear in one go. You cannot suddenly stop half-way. Therefore two things must always apply: (1) the space beyond their path, for which you are heading, must be free for you. (Remember that pedestrians might - within their rights, or not - wander on to it, or into your way before you get there.) (2) you must know that your car will get you to that space whatever happens.

Sometimes you will be approaching a turning or crossing point and will judge that your momentum will anyway assure you of that latter safety. In other positions you will have already had to stop, either because the layout and road markings legally oblige you to, or because you are going to need to wait for a gap in a stream of traffic anyway. The danger then will be of stalling the engine when you do go.

Always make double-sure that you are giving sufficient acceleration, without “roaring” the engine, to enable you to get across another person’s right of way without any risk of stalling. Adequate engine revs must be maintained before releasing the clutch. Be extra careful if the engine is still warming up under choke. See that you do not engage 3rd gear in mistake for 1st - or forget to release the handbrake. All these are simple matters … of life or death.

Never go on unless you are certain that you could reach safety at walking speed, still without inconveniencing any other road user. Never commit yourself to going if you are in any doubt about the potential action of another road user.

Suppose that you have stalled and are stuck half-away across someone's right of way. Sometimes, by the time your engine is re-started, It will no longer be safe to try to go forward; indeed. you must try quickly to reverse out of danger. O.K. - if some idiot has not moved up on you behind! People behind you should never do that before being sure you are safely out or across. But you dare not rely on it that they won't. I have to promise you that many of them cannot think beyond their noses.

Letting Other People Go

Whenever someone else is going across your right of way, ease your speed until you see they are going to make it

It takes two to make an accident! Countless smashes would be avoided if major road pig heads resolved always to be prepared for stopping. Have your foot over the brake, ready. Keep awake; stay alive! Remind yourself that someone straddled across your lane since long before you come within striking distance does have a “right”, conferred by the circumstances being appropriate, to sit there until able to move on. That “right” is virtually equal to your “right” to be coming along.

Eagle Eyes At Junctions

When it is your right of way past a turning or through a crossroads, it is also your divine right to be on the look-out for trouble, and to control speed 'til it is clear that no person or vehicle can possibly shoot out in front of you, or in front of oncoming traffic which might then finish up on your side. No one else will do it for you. Scan, scan and scan again as you reach these hazards, but never forgetting to look ahead in case the driver immediately in front of you is stopping - or lest drivers further ahead of him have begun to pull up unexpectedly. Traffic lights at green for you are no excuse for less diligence in watching all directions, especially if pedestrians are afoot.

Joining Major Roads

When you are emerging on to or crossing a major road, you need a specific drill for looking right and left, thoroughly. At crossroads you have to take account of what anyone opposite may do too, even if you are only turning left (they may try to swing across ahead of you). You must also retain a healthy distrust of any drivers displaying a flashing indicator signal, until their actions confirm it. This particularly applies to those coming along a major road, signaling left to enter a minor road you are leaving. They may have forgotten to cancel their flashing indicator from some time before, and have no such intention, or they may simply change their minds. Wait until you are sure what they are up to, and are certain nothing hidden behind them (such as a motor scooter) might be put at risk if you move.

In the old days, when you arrived at a major road, the adage “look right, left, and right again” for traffic, served reasonably well. But it forgot to emphasize that you must scan the pavements FIRST, as you arrive, for pedestrians.

That basic adage still stands but you need a bit more cunning.

Restricted Vision Junctions

A major road entry point with restricted right/left vision because of buildings, high grassy banks, or whatever, is not an excuse for your front bumper to stick out over the line into the major road before you can see. If no line is painted, as may be the case in side streets or country lanes, you must imagine where it would extend across from gutter to gutter, or edge of road to edge of road. In these circumstances you often have to stop (or take 1st gear still just on the move) before the end, and then nose your bumper up to the line looking all the while. By edging forwards gingerly for the last meter or two, you can almost always gain the view you need. You can do so in safety, ready to stop instantly if required, and without the front of your car crossing the line of the outside pavement edge. That view gained, you can stop if necessary (or if a “stop” sign/line commands you must anyway), whilst you complete looking right, left, and right again, repeating the process until you are certain your way is clear. Lean forward. It helps you see. Open your window(s). Then you hear (traffic coming).

Should you ever have no choice but partly to cross that line before you can see properly, always be looking right, at the critical moment of crossing it (or left if it's a one-way street with traffic coming from the left). In other words, be looking in the direction from which the major road traffic is likely to be passing closest to your bonnet.

Open Vision Junctions

There is usually a give-way sign and/or lines on the road at the entry to a major road wherever right/left vision is open and good. If there are no markings, treat the junction in the same way but with enormous extra care. You are legally free to join the major road without a stop ONLY if all is clear.

It is important to avoid an unnecessary stop. That will only serve to annoy drivers following you. In order to decide whether you need to stop or not, your looking drill has to be advanced into your final approach to a greater extent, but there must be no less attention to detail. If you have not had enough time to satisfy yourself it is safe, you must stop, regardless of people behind. If you are going to be second to arrive, expect that the driver ahead may do just that, even if you can already see the road is clear. Never assume that driver will have been looking as skillfully as you may be doing; suppose the person has decided to stop anyway, to re-adjust his or her seatbelt…! Crash-Bang-Wallop!

Many minor shunts occur in this way. Indeed, at the entry points to roundabouts this is the most popular error which learners - and their supposedly qualified peers - make. Remember, that at all such junction points where you hope to keep on the move, other traffic permitti.ng, looking where you are going must take equal place with checking right and left.

Get Going!

Once YOU (not the examiner, your instructor, or anyone else) are satisfied a major road is clear to give you ample time to get on and go, do so smartly. Waiting when you need not, may be seen as “undue hesitancy”, a driving fault.

Never creep partly out into a major road. Moving out and blocking the entire half of it nearest to you is sometimes indulged in by non-learners. Then the traffic coming from the right has to stop. But if you ease partly out, they are squeezed, putting themselves, and anyone correctly positioned waiting to turn right off the major road (in either direction), in unnecessary danger. This is particularly deadly at night, when drivers don't spot what's happening in time. It would also serve you right if you were hit by a major-road driver from your left, cutting across whilst turning right. See fig. 6.

Left Turn Joining a Major Road

When you take a left turn on to a major road, you join directly the traffic stream travelling nearest to you, from right to left. As has been explained, provided there is a gap for you to move into, there is no necessity to stop at the junction, unless there is a “stop” sign, or there are traffic lights at red against you. You only need to stop if anyone coming from the right is too near for your safe exit - or if anyone from the left is overtaking dangerously and encroaching on your side of the road. Forget to watch for the latter idiot at your peril. See fig. 1.

This left turn should be taken as follows: Approximately 75 meters before the junction, check your mirrors carefully, then signal your intention and slip into 3rd gear. Take up the correct position for the turn, which is within 2-3 tire widths from the nearside curb. If giving an arm signal in addition to your flashing indicator, do it as soon as you have taken 3rd. Brake gently to reduce speed as required.

If you can see you are going to have to stop because the junction is “blind”, or if there is a “stop” sign and line anyway, there is no need to drop to 2nd. Remain in 3rd and stop when you get there.

Watch that no-one steps off the pavement(s) right in front of you just as you reach the line. Begin looking both ways as soon as the view opens up. (Remember to look the correct way first!) Once stopped, apply the handbrake, return the gear to neutral, release the clutch pedal; be prepared for a full smooth take-off in 1st gear when ready.

Repeat your look right, left, and right again procedure until you are certain you are safe to go. Then, with a final glance across your left shoulder, if necessary, to be sure no cyclist has crept up on your left to be allowed for, go - smartly. Make a habit to check your mirrors as you straighten up - so that you are straightaway on to the mirrors' picture for your new road. Accelerate up through the gears without delay, so as to match traffic speed for the faster road. Unless major road traffic is being held up, dawdle not; you could get hit from behind.

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Fig. 1. Danger of an overtaking vehicle when turning left. Driver no. 1 must check carefully to his or her left, and be awake to the danger of a car like no. 2, overtaking lorry no. 3, or there will be a serious accident. The fact that no. 2 should be put in jail for even considering attempting to overtake at a junction, does not, regrettably, make this problem on our roads go away.

With good open views both ways on the approach, and “give way” markings, you do drop down into 2nd gear about 25-30 meters from the junction, and to about 10 m.p.h. by the time you have 10-15 meters left to go.

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Fig. 2. Swinging out at a left turn. WRONG.

You begin your looking left and right drill from as early on as the unfolding scene allows. Remember that the pavements, and all the other potential snags we have mentioned so far, have all got to be looked for on the move, so having that speed right down is essential. Control of your speed is also vital, so that a last - second decision to stop at the line is easy to make if you have to. Of course, it may be obvious from early on that you will have to stop. In either event, you simply stop at the line, and then prepare at once for carrying out the full procedure - just described above - as soon as it is safe to go.

If, on the other hand, the major road remains clear, or you can see that a convenient safe gap in the traffic will coincide with your arrival, then, being in 2nd gear, you have got the acceleration/power to get on and go ahead without a stop. You do so in that case, getting smartly on your way, and up to an appropriate speed for the major road.

Very occasionally, at a wide, sweeping “give-way” junction with unobstructed vision, if all is clear, you can go ahead in 3rd gear at 15-20 m.p.h. (a rough maximum for proper safety) without needing to change down to 2nd at all. Most junctions, however dictate 10 m.p.h. or less and 2nd gear, because space is confined, and the chance you may have to stop remains right up to the very last moment. (2nd ensures adequate power and eliminates any danger of stalling in the event that you can go.)

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Fig. 3. Mounting the pavement by mistake.

Blind Spots

I have stressed that when emerging from a side road, once you've checked the pavements, you always look first towards where the traffic danger, if any, is most immediately likely. Imagine it could come from a moped whizzing along next to the gutter … One quick look, however, is not enough. You should look long enough, and at least twice in both directions, to be sure nothing can have remained hidden from you. Remember the human eye has a blind spot: and door pillars and dirty windows add more: and see fig. 1 again!

Two Faults Which Could Count Against You On Test

First, do not “swing out” as shown in fig. 2. Beginners often move forward too quickly - especially when there has been no need to stop - but steer too slowly, and a very wide turn results.

The second fault is mounting or banging the curb. I show the problem in fig. 3, with a car entering a side road, because a biff then is often harder due to greater speed. Any severe clout can damage the tire and pass undetected for thousands of miles - before causing a burst and, perhaps, a serious accident. Mounting the curb is made worse if it includes a pedestrian's foot!

Your rear wheels should go smoothly round the comer, at about 2-3 tire widths out from the curb. Notice that a curb is always rounded, making it possible to do a perfect left turn.

Turning Left Leaving A Major Road (Into A Side Road)

Countless learners make wide turns into side roads, with the car running out dangerously into the oncoming lane of the minor road as they enter it. The problem is very similar to that depicted in fig. 2. The cause is identical. They arrive too fast to handle the swift steering (and later straightening up) which is required. If it ever happens to you, then, in future, slow down much more, before you reach such a turn.

On a tight left hander you may even need almost to stop before your bonnet enters the turning. To prevent stalling, pop the clutch pedal down and “re-capture” a clutch slipping position just as if you were amidst a smooth take-off - although you are still slightly on the move, in 2nd rather than 1st, and no handbrake is involved. That way, you can then “drive” into the new road under controlled power, instead of rolling round into it under excessive momentum.

Check your mirrors and begin your flashing indicator signal about 75 meters from the turn. Get down the gears into 2nd and always take this left turn slowly and in control, as just emphasized above. Be on the look-out for any reason which might choke off the minor road and mean you have to stop before you can enter it. (You must always give way to a pedestrian wandering across, for example.) But do not linger unnecessarily on the major road. That can be equally dangerous, because fast major-road drivers (who may not see your problem) tend to expect you will get clear swiftly. Yes, they are stupid! If you have had an idiot hounding your tail, slow down for your turn with a bit more time in hand. Then, if you have to stop before you can fully enter your side road, you can do so gently, hopefully giving the goon time to see his or her folly. The time for an arm turn signal, should you decide it would be a helpful addition to your flashing indicator, is during the 3rd gear stage of slowing down.

Right Turn Off A Major Road

Let us first examine how to turn right off a major road into an isolated side road, before considering the same maneuver at a crossroads.

Assume you are travelling at 35 m.p.h., and a right hand turn is shortly to be taken. You are driving along normally, about half a meter from the nearside curb.

Approximately 100 meters from your intended right turn, look in your mirrors, signal your intention, and drop to 3rd gear. Then check in the mirrors again to see that anyone behind has noted your intention, and, by about 50-75 meters from the junction, take up a “crown of the road” position if it is safe to do so. This means moving out smoothly, until positioned so that your offside (right-hand) wheels are running just to the left of the centre line, as you continue gradually to slow down.

Once you have taken up your position in the crown of the road, you must maintain it while slowing down, and you must keep your indicator flashing. Do not “wander” back to the left, or allow any vehicle behind which may be “threatening” to pass, to crowd you out of your right turn position.

If, on your second check in the mirrors, you observe a car you are not sure about, you must make your decision depending on the distance it is behind, and upon how fast it is travelling. If the car is travelling at about the same speed as you and is still eight or a dozen car lengths behind well after you signaled your intention, you can steer over to the crown of the road, thereby compelling that driver, when the turn is reached and if there is room, to overtake you on your left (nearside). If there is not enough room that car will have to slow down and, if necessary, stop.

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Fig. 4. Correct position should you have to wait, and the path for turning right off a major road. Car no. 2 passes through on the inside if there is room, or waits behind until no. 1 has moved on into the turn.

If, however, it is closing up a great deal faster and the driver doesn't seem to have spotted your signal, you may have to slow down and let the fellow overtake, before you take the crown of the road position. (If you are ever “menaced”, despite your signal, and forced to abandon turning, take comfort that that type of driver is rare and probably does it to everyone, not just learners.)

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Fig. 5. Rights of way when turning right.

Once there, hold the crown of the road, maintaining your position with the offside of the bodywork moving parallel to, and just inside, the centre line of the road.

If no centre line is marked, you must visualize where it would be.

Make sure you have changed down the gears to 2nd by the time you arrive, slowly and in control, at the point where you will be making your turn. (See fig. 4.)

It is worth a pause here to consider who has precedence at the turn itself. Fig. 5 looks at this from the points of view of several drivers arriving at once. Cars A and B have the first right of way because they are not turning. They are simply going forward on their own side of the major road. C and D must wait until these have cleared. Then car C is entitled to turn to its right, safely off the major road, before car D turns out on to it.

We return to our description of turning right off a major road. You are moving slowly in the last few meters towards your turning point, in 2nd gear, ready to stop, or go on if all is clear. As just explained, the law is that you give way to approaching oncoming traffic, stopping if necessary. If there is nothing coming (and no problems behind), you get on and make your turn without a stop (assuming nothing blocks the road you are entering). Otherwise you stop with your front bumper level with the point marked X in fig. 4, and prepare to take 1st gear and make the turn smartly as soon as all the traffic clears. You will need the handbrake, except on a level road if you feel confident without it. Do not turn your steering in anticipation just before stopping. You do not wish to be shot forward, in the unlucky event of being hit from behind, directly into oncoming traffic!

Keep a “weather eye” on your mirrors for any two-wheelers tempted to nose up alongside on your right. They should not do it, but if they do, it is best to let them peel away first when the way clears. In your (correct) haste to get on during the first safe gap in oncoming traffic, do not forget to look where you are going to be going! Watch the neck of the turn especially, in case pedestrians might try to go across in front of you just as you are trying to enter the turn. In selecting a safe gap, always allow for such unexpected problems. Choose an opportunity in which, were you to stall for example, there still need be no accident.

After the turn, your flashing indicator, which should have been on throughout the proceedings, must be cancelled if it has not done so automatically. If you are also using an arm turn signal, give it once only, during the 3rd gear slowing down stage. It is wrong to signal, then bring the arm back, and then put it out again as you get nearer. One continuous signal is less confusing to others, besides possible danger to your arm and that you must have that hand back on the wheel when you change down into 2nd, and both hands on it for the turn itself.

Your signals must be made in plenty of time. It is dangerous and futile to drive up to within fifteen or twenty meters of the turn, and suddenly give a right signal. If you do this, you will “pin” other traffic behind you, unable to re-position themselves so as to pass you on your inside, and very much to their annoyance.

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Fig. 6. Cutting a right hand corner. WRONG.

Do not worry about cars overtaking you on the inside. This is what they are meant to do. Risk-takers regrettably sometimes pass by very fast, through what is inevitably quite a narrow space. They make it doubly important not to “wander” to the left.

Where Exactly Do You Turn?

Imagine the centre line of the road you are about to turn into extended out into your road. The point round which you have to turn is the intersection of that line with the centre line of your road. X marks the spot in fig. 4. The correctly made right turn is one in which your car shaves round the left of this point, as shown.

Common Faults And Problems In Right Turns

You must never cut across like driver no. 1 in fig. 6. This puts at risk driver no. 2, who is also turning right, and who may not notice you about to sin until it is too late! Cutting across is a Test failure sin, whether anyone is coming out of the turning or not.

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Fig. 7. Bad turn caused by creeping forward whilst the oncoming car was passing the other way. WRONG.

You must not creep forward as in fig. 7. Wait until you can go, following the correct line as shown in fig. 4.

Before you move across to your crown of the road position, one more factor must be taken into account. We have considered people behind, but what happens if an oncoming driver seems likely to swing across on to your half of the road as you move into place approaching your turning point? This oncoming driver might be trying to pass a slow-moving, left-turning JCB, for example, and hope to squeeze through without hitting you. Or this sort of driver might be so intent on getting round the digger that you are not seen about to turn right, at all!

Your forward planning must be a jump ahead of this inattention! Begin your moving out, but don't take up your position fully next to the line until you can see that you cannot be compromised.

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Fig. 8. Hatch road markings. Car no. 1 is correctly positioned to turn right. No.3 MUST NOT enter the hatched area in order to overtake no. 2.

Hatch Road Markings

At junctions these protect right-turning vehicles from the rest of the traffic on a major road. Traffic going straight along the major road should never enter the hatched area. If you are turning right, you go into the reserve area inside the hatched part to take up your shielded right turn position. See driver no. 1 in fig. 8.

Many drivers are unaware that it is allowable, when you are turning right, to drive on to the hatching in the course of taking up the right turn position, provided the outer edge lines of the hatching have breaks as in fig. 8. This refinement helps following-drivers who are going straight on, to filter through to, your left. However, it is best to wait 'til after your Test before going across the hatching itself, lest your examiner might judge you a little too clever.

These markings save many lives at turnings off major roads where there are extra hazards, such as when the junction is near a bend or brow of a hill, and where traffic overtaking foolishly might not notice a right turner having to wait in the middle. It follows that you should never overtake through a hatched area.

Sometimes hatch markings are enclosed by solid continuous white lines. This type separate opposing traffic streams at especially dangerous places such as along switch-back, up-and-down hills. Treat these hatched areas as if they were “puffed-out” double white lines. Do not drive on the hatching under any circumstances.

Turning Right Off Major Roads At Crossroads

Suppose now, that you are intending to turn right off the major road at a crossroads, and that a car coming the other way also intends to turn right.

All the care with your mirrors, signaling and taking a crown of the road position are the same as for the right turn above. With regard to that other car, the Highway Code lays down a basic rule that you pass behind each other. See fig. 9.

The expectation which stems from that rule is important. It means that, whether or not either of you may need to stop at any stage, you can each reasonably anticipate that the other will follow the strictly correct line.

(Note: the basic principle shown in fig. 9 is applied in exactly the same way turning off dual carriageways. Drivers should pass each other offside to offside, within the confines of the safe “refuge” area (or gap) provided in the central reservation. If you have to wait before you can cross the other half of the dual carriageway, always do so in the left hand, or farther away, half of the gap insofar as is possible.)

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Fig. 9. CORRECT way for two drivers to turn right at crossroads. They pass behind each other, offside-to-offside.

Fig. 10 portrays a typical, but more complicated, situation. If there are a number of vehicles all wanting to turn right at the same junction, it is usual, and good driving manners, for one of the drivers to give way in order to let the opposing traffic across. Thoughtful, courteous driving will please your examiner and it will develop within you a happy motoring personality that will help reduce accidents.

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Fig. 10. A congested crossroads. Car no. 3 should wait at least until car no. 1 has been able to cross in front of it. It would be considerate to let the other two behind no.1, go as well, but unless no. 1 can move, nos. 1 and 2 will never be able to turn, and the whole junction will get gummed up. No. 1 must look out for traffic passing through inside on no. 3's left and Give Way to it, as must all who may be given the chance to follow no. 1.

The reason to go behind and not in front of each other, as a basic precept for crossroads right turns, is brought out by fig. 11. Neither driver, if you pass in front, can see properly behind the other. The restricted vision vastly increases your exposure to danger from whomsoever may try to zoom through from behind your opposite number - some motorcyclists being prime certifiable cases for so testing their luck.

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Fig. 11. Passing in front (nearside-to-nearside) when turning right at crossroads. Drivers should not attempt a right turn in front of one another like this, unless space is very restricted, or special lane markings require you to do so.

All the above being said, however, sometimes, because of restricted space at a junction, vehicles do customarily pass in front of each other when turning right. Often you find yourself forced to make your turn the “wrong” way by the positioning of the driver opposite. Provided you showed extra care, you would be unlikely to fail your Test for it. But I advise against making yourself the instigator unless it is clearly absurd to do otherwise.

In addition, at a great many crossroads, special road markings are painted which “channel” you into passing in front and leave you no choice. These markings are put in where the authorities recognize that the junction is going to be bunged up half the time unless drivers do pass in front. Many are at traffic lights. If you are turning right, position where the arrows and lines on the road show you. These helpful markings in no way remove the need for extra care which I have already stressed. Nor does the trend towards official blessing of such passing in front, in any way alter the natural expectation of passing behind being the fundamental rule which you must always remember.

Turning Right To Join A Major Road

Much of what you have learned so far about turning left out of a side road and turning right off a major road, applies. Looking in the mirrors, signaling, getting into a crown of the road position, changing down to 2nd gear if there is a give-way line so as to be ready to go should you have the opportunity, and so on, are all the same.

But there is plenty more to know:

1. As stated earlier, the rule of the road is that anyone turning right off the major road and into your road is entitled to go first. See fig. 5. The danger is of one of them cutting your nose off before you reach the line. See fig. 6.

2. Be ready at a crossroads for anyone opposite who is waiting to come straight across, or to make a right turn, to start out at the same instant you do. If such a driver is going straight across, it is his or her right of way. You will have to turn behind that vehicle after it has gone unless the driver clearly waits so that you can go first.

If it is turning right, you have to take into account whether you will be able to pass behind each other as per the basic rule, or if it will be more appropriate to pass in front as just discussed. You have to anticipate what the driver opposite is likely to want to do. Sometimes that wish will be clear from the angle he or she has positioned the vehicle in readiness; sometimes the road layout will preclude doubt. But unless you are certain, make no assumptions. Be guided not by some unofficial but cheery wave, or an incorrect and potentially ambiguous headlight flash which may be given; judge by actions. (To act on such an improper signal is at your own risk. The Highway Code directs you not to give them.) Think, before moving out, whether there is the slightest danger of the two of you getting tied up, stuck in the middle. Never risk moving if the chance of a mix up could result in major road traffic finding they had to stop unexpectedly.

If a driver opposite is turning left he or she can usually get away before you can make your right turn anyway. From a strictly technical viewpoint though, it could be argued that, once you reach into the other side of the road as you turn right into it, then if that waiting vehicle has still yet to move, it should give way to you. This is because, being already on the major road, you have right of way. But suppose that driver does not see you move forward? Why risk argument? Watch, and be ready to wait. Allow extra time just in case.

3. If the end of your side road is narrow, a full crown of the road position may be silly. Leave room for incoming traffic to get round, even big lorries.

4. When you make your right turn into the major road, having satisfied yourself it is safe and clear in both directions, it is important that your final look, made as you begin to move forward, is covering the direction having the shortest length of vision. Thus, if to the left there is a blind bend in the major road nearby to your junction, but you can see for miles to your right, your last look must be to the left. Then, if someone hurtles round that corner just as you commit yourself to go, you at least have a fighting chance to stop half-way out.

Dual Carriageways

Nasty accidents are occasionally caused in fog or on very dark nights, through the failure of a driver to observe that the road he is turning on to is a dual carriageway. Having started down the wrong half of the dual road for his direction, he may travel some distance before discovering that he is not only going the wrong way, he is also in the fast lane! Observe some typical road signs denoting where you join duals. Memorize them carefully so you can spot such a layout even in the murkiest shadows, and prevent this ever happening to you.

Mirrors, signaling, positioning and looking drill all need just as much attention when you join (or cross) a dual. And don't imagine you can approach carefree, looking only to your right; a pedestrian may well be walking across from your left …

Turning left on to a dual, go into the left hand lane as per normal lane discipline. If you were not aware you should be doing this.

Make sure, when you turn right on to a dual carriageway. that you are going to be able to wait within the “safe refuge” created by the central reservation, if you need to. If there is any danger your boot could be left sticking out in the fast lane of the first half of the dual carriageway, or that your bonnet might project into the fast lane of the second half, you must wait until you have safe gaps both ways simultaneously, so that you can complete your turn in one go. Be extra careful where other vehicles are already waiting in the reservation, or if it is a very thin strip, not wide enough to contain the length of your car.

Overhanging the fast lane of a dual carriageway causes deadly accidents. Maniac speedsters, who will not slow down, never expect it, and so the side-on killer crash happens. Be prepared for others to put themselves at risk, but never risk it yourself.

Whenever you do have to stop within the protection of the central reservation in the course of turning right on to a dual, do so on the left side of the safe refuge, in case someone coming from your left (along the second half of the dual) also wishes to turn right. Usually, unless commonsense or road markings dictate otherwise, you must give way to such a driver because, theoretically, you are still on the less important road. In any case, if that driver waits for you, it is likely his or her car will mask your view of more fast traffic coming along from behind it. This other vehicle turns first, going round in front of you. (It may, of course, have to stop beside you on your right, in its half of the refuge, to wait for a clear gap in the dual carriageway traffic now passing immediately behind you.)

Whether you have had to stop in the refuge or not, you should move directly to the nearside lane as you accelerate on to the second half of the dual carriageway.

Like so many principles that bred confidence in the days of slower, lighter traffic, when you could expect people to keep to them, this one must be applied with circumspection nowadays. People break speed limits along duals. Although you may have set off with “ample” time to reach the nearside lane comfortably (where you belong unless you already need to overtake something slow like a milk float) suppose someone zooms into sight just as you are under way?

Depending how fast the vehicle is coming, and in which lane, you have to make a snap decision. Sometimes the other driver will swap lanes the instant he or she sees you, affecting your choice of action, but not always. (There may be more than one vehicle, and in different lanes, within seconds.) Although the situation may be no fault of yours, you must rapidly choose the least risky thing to do. Either:

1. Stop in your tracks so that whoever is concerned has to switch to the left lane; then go on once he, she, or they have passed, or:

2. Go as planned, accelerating like billy-ho, now forcing whoever may have suddenly appeared, to overtake you on the outside, or slow up if they cannot, or:

3. Subject to no-one just to your right trying to beat you tort (they do!), switch decisively to the right lane and go on as fast as you can accelerate. Let the speedy new arrival(s) pass you on the inside, before you move across to the nearside lane.

In theory, they certainly ought not to pass inside, but in reality, they do. Perhaps, to be fair, they are encouraged by growing numbers who, when making these turns, set off as in 3 whenever an outside lane is empty, as a matter of course - without even waiting for the nearside one to clear.

What they do may help traffic-flow at peak times but it is of doubtful legality, and it is best left to experienced drivers. As an “L” stick to the fundamental rules unless surprised into a different choice as above.

When going straight across at a junction with a dual carriageway, apply exactly the same care with regard to using the protection of the central reservation, and stick to the basic rules, but be ready for others who will break them.

One-Way Streets

Most of what I have said about left and right turns has its application just the same in a one-way street. Oddities to look out for are:

1. If you are in a right hand lane flowing past a turning on your right, people about to emerge from it are often looking the other way, as they - quite wrongly - let their bonnet encroach into your one-way street. Always travel a sensible distance out from the curb, and be ready to slow, stop, or otherwise avoid someone as careless as that. If you see one looking the other way first (unaware of your one-way street's status), a toot may wake the individual up, but never depend on that doing so in time.

2. if you are turning right at the end of a one-way street out of it, you don't use the crown of the road position; you get all the way over into the right hand lane. That seems like commonsense. The oddity is that other people - especially in a quiet one-way street - will not necessarily be expecting you to do it. Take care they cannot mistake what you are going to do.

3. You may overtake in either lane. If you are travelling in the right hand lane, then having people pass you on the left can come as a surprise, rather like having them overtake you on the inside on an ordinary road other than at a time when they are entitled to do so. The surprise element can be disturbing until you are used to it, watching your mirrors for it, and accustomed to travelling in a right hand lane instead of keeping left as per the normal rule of the road.

Well before the end of a one-way street choose the lane you are going to want, and move to it in good time, remembering all the lane-changing techniques. Don't waste an opportunity if one comes up early. Make the change then. It could save an unnecessary hold-up later, for other people too. On the other hand, if you can't change to the lane you want just yet, it may not matter on a long one-way. Don't hold everyone up if your turn is yet some way distant and you could leave the change until further along.

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