When in an urban environment you will be anticipating encountering more junctions, vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. There will be various speed limits that may change more frequently as you move from one area to another. Consider the time of day, day of the week and time of year when thinking about what you may encounter.
Awareness of your surroundings is key. You must plan and scan well ahead taking in and prioritising information, assessing the risk and adjusting speed and position accordingly.
Always approach any junction using the MSM routine. Plan well ahead and check your mirrors to gain any early information on following traffic, type of junction, signs and road markings relating to the junction, size of the junction, vision at the junction, traffic at the junction, uphill or downhill approach and pedestrians near the junction. All of this information will help you decide on the correct position, speed and gear to approach the junction.
Effective observation must be made on the approach to and before entering any junction.
Look – For traffic, pedestrians and other hazards.
Assess – Is it safe to proceed?
Decide – When to proceed.
Act – Positive action (this could mean proceed or wait).
The zone of vision is what the driver can see into the other roads as they approach a junction.
The driver’s zone of vision can be restricted when approaching a junction. Obstructions can be buildings, hedges, bends or other vehicles. The zone of vision will improve the closer you get to the junction.
When a driver’s zone of vision on approach to a junction is good it is known as an
When a driver’s zone of vision on approach to a junction is poor it is known as a
Having stopped at a give way or stop line you may find that parked vehicles are restricting your view when trying to emerge into the new road. The safest way to proceed is to creep forward slowly looking over, under, along the sides of and through the windows of the parked vehicles until you have a clear enough view to go. This technique is called ‘Peep and Creep’.
When approaching a crossroads on the major road and are following the road ahead you must always take a look to the right and then the left before going through, checking for anyone emerging from the side roads. If emerging from the minor road at a crossroads it is important to make eye contact with the driver of other vehicles on the other side in order to establish who is to proceed first.
When approaching a roundabout take advantage of the fact that most are open junctions and you can see onto the junction from well back. Glance at the roundabout and then in front several times on the approach to assess the traffic and adjust your speed so you can feed in if possible.
Crossing the Path of Other Vehicles.
You cross the path of other vehicles when turning right into a side road or entrance. Consider not only the size of the gap in the oncoming traffic but the speed at which the traffic is approaching. You must not cause any vehicle to change speed or direction when turning. When assessing if it is safe to proceed ask yourself, would you walk across the road? If yes, then you should proceed if your way is clear into the new road.
Remember the three S’s. I do not want to cause the next oncoming vehicle driver to Slow, Swerve or Swear!
Crossroads Turning Right.
As with any junction plan well ahead to see the signs or road markings to guide you. In some cases however there will be none and you will have to be prepared to give way.
Methods for Turning Right When Oncoming Traffic is Also Turning Right.
Rule 181 of the Highway code says that there are two methods for dealing with this situation.
1. Turn right side to right side keeping the other vehicle on your right and turning behind it. This is generally the safest method as you have a clear view of oncoming traffic when completing your turn.
2. Left side to left side, turning in front of each other. This can block your view of oncoming traffic so take care.
Deciding which one of the options to take will depend on the road layout, markings and the position of the other vehicles. Approach, being prepared to stop if necessary and look into the other cars making eye contact with the other drivers to determine what course to take.
Priority on approach – When approaching most roundabouts, you will give way to traffic coming from the right. There will be rare occasions when the give way line is on the roundabout itself and you can enter the roundabout with priority.
Position on approach – Position left for turning left and straight ahead, right for turning right unless road markings, signs or road layout direct otherwise. You may use the right hand lane for straight ahead if the road markings indicate. With three unmarked lanes use the left lane for left, middle for going ahead and right lane for turning right.
Position on the roundabout – Unless directed otherwise use the left lane for turning left and straight ahead. Right lane for turning right. You may use the right-hand lane for straight ahead if markings indicate. If there are more than three lanes, then follow the road markings.
Exiting a roundabout – Check your mirrors and indicate as you pass the previous exit to the exit you’re taking. Finally, check your left side mirror before leaving the roundabout in the left-hand lane. If the left lane is not available, then take the right. Having exited the roundabout in the right lane then make your way into the left hand lane at the earliest safe opportunity.
Treat with the same rules as any other roundabouts. Mini roundabouts are however far smaller than normal roundabouts which means:
1. You are not expected to indicate when leaving the roundabout if doing so would affect your steering.
2. Every effort should be made to go around the roundabout but putting your wheels partly on the centre markings is permitted if needed. For example, if you are a large vehicle.
3. Don’t enter the junction unless your route through and exit is clear.
4. Due to the size of the junction other vehicles will be in close proximity. Keep other vehicles in mind, even if they are required to give way to you (can you stop in time if they pulled out?).
Double and Multiple Roundabouts.
Treat each roundabout individually and with the same rules as other roundabouts. To be clear, with a double roundabout you must treat each roundabout in turn one at a time and not treat them both as one junction. This does mean you may find yourself stopped on the first roundabout whilst giving way to traffic coming from your right at the second. This is permitted and you must not entre the second roundabout unless your way is clear.
There are several types of pedestrian crossing and it is your responsibility to understand how they work and how best to deal with them. Here is a list of crossings a driver may come across.
• Zebra crossing: Give way to anyone that has moved onto the crossing (one foot on). If there is an island in the middle, then each side of the road is a separate crossing. Do not wave people across the road. Do not rev your engine whilst waiting and if at the stop line then apply your handbrake.
• Pelican crossing: The lights are activated when a pedestrian pushes a button on a box on the lights and there will be a set length of time for them to cross. When the red light shows you must stop at the stop line. At a pelican crossing the red light is followed by a flashing amber light. When the flashing amber light shows you must continue to give way to anyone on the crossing although if the crossing is clear you may proceed with caution. When a pelican crossing is straight, then even with a central island it must be treated as one crossing. If it is staggered, then it is treated as two separate crossings.
• Puffin crossing: The lights are activated in the same way as a pelican crossing. The length of time the pedestrian has to cross is determined by sensors on the lights that sense when the crossing has been cleared and so changing the lights back to green to allow the traffic to go. The light sequence seen by the vehicles is the same as at traffic lights.
• Toucan crossing: The lights are activated in the same way as a pelican crossing. Toucan crossings are used by both pedestrians and cyclists. The light sequence seen by the vehicles is the same as at traffic lights.
• Equestrian crossing: The lights are activated in the same way as a pelican crossing although the box will be very much higher for the horse rider to reach. These crossings may be alongside those for pedestrians and cyclists. The light sequence seen by the vehicles is the same as at traffic lights.
• School crossing patrols: You must obey any signals given by the police officer, traffic warden or school patrol warden with a stop sign. If asked to stop then leave plenty of room for people to cross. Look out for any warning signs or signals telling you of any pedestrian crossings coming up that may be obscured from view.
Approaching a Pedestrian Crossing.
• On approach to pedestrian crossings you will see white zigzag markings on the road. You must not park or overtake another vehicle within these markings.
• When approaching a pedestrian crossing you should look for any pedestrians on the pavement within the zigzag markings walking towards the crossing. Anticipating when someone may want to cross will make it easier to give way.
• Beyond the white stop / give way line are two rows of metal studs to show the area in which the pedestrians must cross. You must never stop in this area. If in a queue for example, you must never enter onto a pedestrian crossing unless you can clear it on the other side (just as you would a yellow box junction).
Look well ahead to identify pedestrian crossings early and look for any pedestrians near the crossing. Use the MSM routine and bring your speed down. Never accelerate towards a pedestrian crossing.
Remember your brake lights cannot be seen by the pedestrians on the crossing so if you’re the lead vehicle an arm signal may be required to let them know you’re slowing down.
Only move off when the crossing is clear, even if the lights indicate you can go.
You should always treat pedestrians with courtesy and consideration. Take note not just that there is a pedestrian there but what type of pedestrian they are. Some are far more vulnerable than others, so you should pay attention and slow down if needed. Particularly vulnerable are the young, the elderly, a mother with children and people walking dogs (Is it on a lead? If so what type of lead? Is it extendable?)
Anticipate where you would encounter the pedestrians:
1. Busy high streets.
2. A bus at the roadside.
3. Around parked cars and ice-cream vans.
4. Outside schools at home time.
5. As you turn left into roads you can’t see into.
6. On roads without footpaths.
Remember you must give way to all pedestrians already crossing a road you are turning into. Never wave or beckon a pedestrian to cross the road.
When passing a cyclist, you should give them as much room as a car. Imagine if they fell to one side. Would you drive over them?
Anticipate their actions. Cyclists may swerve in windy conditions or maybe to avoid a drain. Drains are very slippery, and the cyclist may go around them. Is the cyclist approaching any parked vehicles? Are they looking over their right shoulder ready to move to the right? You can’t overtake then.
Take care at junctions to spot cyclists. When approaching a left turn you must check your left side for any cyclists on your left. When emerging at junctions: (Think once, Think twice, Think bike).
In queues of traffic keep checking behind for any cyclists approaching from the rear. Young cyclists are especially vulnerable. You must keep an eye on them. If there is a cycle lane then do not drive in it.