SPEED ON APPROACH AND TAKING PROPER OBSERVATION AT DIFFERENT TYPES OF JUNCTIONS
I talked a bit about this in the ĎDriving Testí section, but we will go a little deeper into the topic now.
Let's consider the safest way of driving up to a 'T' junction, if you are approaching on the side road with the intention of turning left onto the major road.
Keeping to the basics, well before the junction, check the mirror and act on what you see.† Has a car started to overtake you; if so, wait till it gets past, then signal, left.† It is very important to use the mirror well before you need to signal so you can delay the signal if necessary, for whatever reason, and still give ample warning of your intention to other road users.† Donít omit to use the mirror before signalling for obvious reasons.† Remember it is important to get into the habit of checking the mirror before signalling, and not to do them simultaneously.† Another common fault is to check the mirror then signal regardless of what is happening behind you.† Donít just go through the motions; act on what you see.††
To recap; Check the mirror well before signalling so you can delay the signal if necessary and still give ample warning of your intention.
Keep to the left, as you are going to turn left and adjust your speed so you're not approaching the junction too fast and causing concern to drivers or cyclists on the major road.† No doubt you have been on the major road, when someone approaches from a side road so fast that you wonder whether they are going to stop.† They may be well in control and have every intention of stopping but you certainly aren't getting that impression.† So get your speed correct on approach. Drive with due consideration for other road users, including pedestrians that might want to cross at that junction.
Now you have arrived at the junction, we come to the point of proper observation before emerging. It is vital that this is done correctly; and so many times it is not, and is the cause of many accidents. It is so tempting, and done so often; when turning left onto a major road, to emerge, looking to the right and not having checked to the left before crossing the 'Give way' lines.
Look at the following situations that illustrate the point. You see these situations happening daily.
The driver emerging is oblivious of the driver coming from the left as he is still looking to the right.† He has not taken proper observation before emerging.† If he had checked to the left and thought the obstruction is on the other side of the road so I can emerge, he would have been wrong because he shouldn't cross the 'Give Way' lines until he can emerge onto the major road without impeding other road users.† You can only do this by taking proper observation both ways before emerging.
If you remember years ago, when we were young kids, to cross the road we were taught to look right, left and right again before crossing the road or emerging at a junction.† The reason for this is that generally traffic would be closest to you from the right; therefore it would hit you first, so look right first!† I think that was easily understood and made sense, but now they are told to look all around before crossing the road.† If they look right first then to the left and step off the path, that second look to the right could be vital; and I think necessary.† Likewise when emerging at a junction, that second look to the right is important, you could easily overlook a cyclist on the first look that had been hidden behind the pillar of your windscreen.† Let's face it, right, left, right should be an absolute minimum.†
There are many times when your head should be going backwards and forwards like being at a tennis match, when emerging from between parked vehicles, or crossing the road as a pedestrian.† And remember in this situation your speed should be extremely slow to give you time to look properly, without impeding other road users. The time difference between looking properly, or a quick look without taking things in properly, is minimal, so why not do it correctly in the first place and make the roads much safer for everyone.
There are many times when it is safe to approach and emerge quite quickly. It all comes down to field of view on approach.
If you are driving in an area of Terraced Streets, you will most likely have to treat each junction as a 'STOP' sign, as your field of vision on approach will be almost nil right up until you get to the junction.†
†On the other hand if you are driving around a housing estate that is of the open plan type, your field of view on approach to a junction could be considerable.† This makes emerging easier as you can probably see both ways for a considerable distance before arriving at the actual junction, so you can take observation much earlier, and therefore emerge without having to almost 'STOP'; assuming that you have been concentrating properly.