• Approaching Junctions

  • Approaching junctions to turn left and right major to minor.

    It’s important to point out that dealing with a junction takes a bit of practice. This can be tougher than learning to move off and stop as we may be moving faster and have less time to think and react to the situation. But don’t worry; I will help you until you feel more confident with controlling the car in this situation in these earlier lessons of learning to drive, as it can leave your mind feeling more crowded with less time to think and react to instruction. Using the abbreviated procedure in red below will give you a framework to make it easier to learn and you can even practice this in your mind while sitting in a chair. This will help prepare you for all your lessons. Anticipation when driving is the key to good driving and dealing with any situation safely and having a procedure like the one below will make it much easier. Anticipating whatever you’re about to deal with will kick start thinking about and acting on that procedure, so you deal with it as a process and will not leave yourself flapping by thinking about what you need to do when you actually need to be doing it. But once you have the knack of it, you have broken the back of controlling the car in most other situations, so from there on in it’s all about spotting hazards and learning the procedure.

    M-S-P-S-L = Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed, Look.
    The first thing to do is spot the junction you want to turn in to. Look for the triangle warning signs which tell you a junction is coming up, and look for a larger gap between houses, trees, bushes or the kerb and anything that a road may fit between that could tell you that the junction is coming up (including give way lines and other road markings). As a pedestrian you do this all the time, but in a car you have less time to think and react at 30 MPH.

    Now that you have spotted the junction, you will want to use the procedure in red above.

    Mirror: Always check your mirrors in pairs, starting with the interior and the door mirror of the side you are turning. On the left you are checking for bike and pedestrians and on the right you are checking for anything overtaking. There shouldn’t be anyone overtaking but sometimes there is and we need to make sure that it’s safe.

    Signal: You will always need to signal at junctions unless you can only go one way and are directed by the lane you are using. Your signal should correspond with the direction you are turning.

    Position: If you are turning left, then position yourself to the left- a large step from the kerb is about right. If you are turning right then position yourself over to the right of your lane but left of the white broken centre line.

 Reduce your speed by lifting your foot off the gas and progressively pushing down on the foot brake. If you are in a high gear once you have reduced your speed and while still braking, put the clutch down and put the car in to 2nd or 1st gear while slowly bringing the clutch back up. This will help to slow the car down, which is called engine braking and you will be in the right gear to proceed round the junction if it is clear to go. If the clutch is down as you go around the corner, the car may speed up and you will have less control. If it is not clear to go you will push the clutch down and break to stop, if you are going to have to wait for more than a second secure the car and wait for a gap, as you see a gap find the bite point and get ready to release the hand brake to proceed.

    Look: When turning left, you are looking for anything that may be at the junction or in the minor road in to which you are turning. Pedestrians, cyclists and other cars turning right from major to minor can be a hazard. If you are turning left you have priority, unless the road makings and signs indicate otherwise or if you can see that someone is going to cut across your path, but most of the time this means there is no need to stop, just reduce your speed to walking pace.

    When turning right, you will be crossing the carriageway on the right. This means you may be crossing the path of oncoming traffic. If there is oncoming traffic and you don’t have time to cross you will need to stop. If you stop for longer than a second, apply the hand-brake and position the broken white centre line of the road that you are turning in to so it appears next to or under the door mirror. You can use your experience as a pedestrian as a way of knowing whether or not it is safe to cross the path of the oncoming traffic; if you would walk across then you can drive across. Keep in mind your confidence with controlling the car when pulling away to begin with and just before you move check the right mirror for anyone trying to overtake on your right.

    Once you have turned in to the road check your mirrors, (interior and right mirror) before giving it more gas.