Some junctions may appear more daunting than others, but all have similar rules.

  • There may be different traffic light signals for each lane. Take heed only of the one controlling your lane.
  • Only enter the box when it is is clear to proceed. If box is blocked wait until clear even if the lights are in your favour, do not get trapped in the box by changing lights, a main cause of city traffic jams. If necessary wait for the lights to change again. If the box is blocked by other traffic leave it to clear before proceeding.
  • Select your chosen path early using the road markings and other signs, clearly signal your intentions, obey the traffic signals.
  • Be aware of pedestrians who may not wait for their crossing signal. Watch out for late lane changers who didn’t plan as early as you.
  • Be aware of parked traffic on your left that may dart out without a signal. If there’s someone sitting in it it could move.

To recap:

  • Select your lane/ destination early.
  • Take heed of road markings.
  • Observe the lights and filters
  • Don’t block boxes.
  • Watch out for other traffic.

Left turns are the simplest of all but you should take care to read any signs or road markings. Decide on your path, check mirrors, signal, check again for cyclists on your left. Pull up to and stop at the junction – unless it is all clear – continue signalling left, check both ways and turn left when it is clear to do so.

Turning right is much more dangerous than a simple left turn. Well before your turn check your mirror, signal right, check again and move nearer to the centre line of the road. Continue signalling right and draw up to the junction and stop. Carefully checking both ways turn right when it is clear to do so.

Often you will come across unequal T junctions where a busy road turns right or left and, at the point of turning, is joined by a less busy road. The main difference will be in the position of any signs and road markings and, most importantly, in the respective rights of way as shown in the graphic. In this instance you should still check your mirror before making the right turn but a signal is not needed as you are continuing on the major road. You should however keep an eye on traffic from your left in case someone jumps over the line.

At first glance the easiest of all junctions is going straight ahead, but in practice frequently the scene of disaster from drivers mis-reading their right of way. There is little value protesting from your hospital bed that it was your right of way! Unless lanes are specifically marked stay in the left lane. Carefully check for any give way or stop signs and only proceed if you are sure that the right of way is yours, even then proceed with caution and look both ways as you cross.

Staggered junctions are quite common and simply combine two of the other types of junction, for example, a right turn quickly followed by a left turn. Great care must be taken to change the signals as soon as the first manoeuvre is carried out otherwise a following driver could misinterpret your intentions. For a right/left turn the sequence would be decide, mirror, signal  check, manoeuvre, mirror, signal, check, manoeuvre.

  • Decide
  • Mirror
  • Signal
  • Check
  • Manoeuvre
  • Position

Article © Graham Benge 2007

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