Amongst one of the top reasons for failing a driving test is due to incorrect observations at junctions. Incorrect or insufficient observations at junctions may lead to selecting the wrong time to emerge.
As a driver, when emerging from a junction, you must not cause another road user to Stop, Slow or Swerve. If you do, you are likely to receive a minor or even a serious or dangerous fault.
Here, I will give you 10 Top Tips for emerging from junctions safely and without creating driving test faults:
Tip #1 – Locate the Junction
One of the reasons that learner drivers struggle with turns and emerges is that they don’t locate the junction early enough.
Always look well ahead, to your far and middle distance, as well as your near distance.
Look to the sides of the road, as if your vision goes out in a funnel (and not just the middle of the road – like a tunnel vision).
Once you have located the junction, you can start your MSPSL routine early, and have more of a chance of dealing with the junction accurately and safely.
Tip #2 – What type of junction is it?
Noticing what type of junction, will help you decide how you need to deal with it.
Is the junction OPEN, CLOSED or is it a STOP junction?
At an open junction you can see into the new road and make a decision about a safe time to emerge early.
At a closed junction, houses, parked cars or shrubbery all can contribute to restricting your visibility. You cannot see clearly into the new road to make a decision early.
At a STOP junction you know you will have to bring the car to a complete stop. Visibility will be very poor at the end of the road. It’s important to notice that you are approaching a stop junction and don’t inadvertently keep your car moving, even if you’re moving very slowly.
Tip #3 – Speed
Many learner drivers approach junctions either too fast or too slow.
If you are too slow, you may hold up and annoy other road users. There is also the possibility of misleading others who could think you’re pulling up before you get to the junction.
If you are too fast you give yourself much less time to make all the necessary checks on approach. Pedestrians may be startled if you are a little bit fast, and it can be uncomfortable for drivers on the new road who may think you are about to pull out in front of them.
Tip #4 – Great Observations
When you emerge from a junction, you will emerge in front of traffic coming from your right-side first.
Your first check, if possible, should be to your right.
Look ‘Right – Left – Right’ as a minimum. Keep repeating these checks until you decide on safe time to emerge.
Tip #5 – Peep and Creep
If, when you get to the end of a road, you cannot see clearly, you need to stop the car behind the line.
Select first gear and use clutch control to edge the car very slowly forwards. This is using ‘Creep’
Lean as far forwards in your seat as necessary in order that you can see further. This is using ‘Peep’
Keep edging slowly forwards and leaning forwards until you can see enough into the new road to make a safe decision.
If another car approaches, you must stop your car, even if you are ‘sticking out’ into the new road.
Tip #6 – Trusting Signals
If a vehicle approaching from your right, is indicating to turn left, don’t assume the signal is correct. The signal may have been left on by mistake. The signal may have been knocked on accidently. The signal may have been put on too early.
You must not start to emerge from the junction until you are absolutely certain that the vehicle is going to turn. This will be when the vehicle has slowed down enough and actually started to turn.
Tip #7 – Don’t Know? Don’t Go!
If you cannot make a decision about whether it’s safe to go – or if you cannot see clearly – DON’T GO!
If you’re being overly hesitant, take some extra driving lessons so you can improve in this area. Overly hesitant drivers can cause problems and irritate other road users.
On the other hand, if you are on your driving test and you miss a gap, don’t worry about it. Take a deep breath, focus and act as if you have only just arrived. Thinking about the missed gap will not help you.
Many learners worry about creating ‘hesitation’ faults. This can make you far more likely to emerge at an unsafe time, without making sufficient checks.
Tip #8 – LOOK where you’re going
It’s quite common for learner and new drivers to continue to look to the right, at oncoming traffic, as they are emerging to the left. This means they are not looking where they are going.
- A pedestrian may be crossing the road.
- There may be parked cars on your side of the road.
- There may be parked cars on the other side of the road, and therefore cars on your side of the road as they are passing.
It’s vital to look where you are going, in order to keep yourself, your passengers and other road users safe.
Tip #9 – Speed Up…
As soon as you have driven into the new road, you need to check your middle mirror to know what’s following, how close they are and how quickly they are gaining on you.
You need to check your right door mirror to see if anything is overtaking.
Then, if it’s safe, speed up to match the speed of other road users as promptly as is safe.
Remember – you must not cause other road users to stop, slow or swerve.
Tip #10 – Use your Gears
When emerging onto any new road, and especially on National Speed Limit roads, it’s really important to pick up speed quickly. Driving at the same speed as traffic around you is the safest speed to be at.
Think about being out in a shopping arcade. If you walk slower than everyone else, you are likely to get bumped into. That’s the same as when your driving.
If you’re driving a car with gears, stay in a lower gear for a bit longer than normal to pick up speed quickly. Then you can go straight into the appropriate gear for your speed. That means you can go from 2nd to 4th gear, or from 3rd to 5th gear.
If you’re driving an automatic car, make use of kickdown to pick up speed promptly. This is to press your foot all the way down on the gas pedal. The car automatically moves into a lower gear and you are able to pick up speed quickly.
Carrying out good observations at junctions will enable you to make well-informed decisions and choose safe times to emerge.
Looking out for other road users and knowing what’s happening ahead to the sides and behind you will help you get a positive result in your driving test and keep you safer in the future.
For more information on learning to drive and preparing for a driving test, see my Online Driving Workshop.
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