Approaching Junctions

A junction is a point where two or more roads meet and vary greatly in layout, view and complexity. 

However, any type of junction is a static hazard that has potential to be dangerous so greater care will need to be exercised at all times, no matter how easy they look. 

There are five main types of junctions that will require an equal amount of attention and a specific procedure on the approach. 

T Junctions
Y Junctions
Staggered Junctions

It is important to recognise the hazard early through forward planning.  Look for information about the junction that will help determine the type and difficulty. 

Road signs and markings that include advanced warning signs, direction signs and lines may alert you to a forthcoming junction but these may be hidden from view by parked vehicles or tree lines.  In this case, it would be beneficial to raise your view and search for gaps in the housing line or for street lighting or telegraph poles that may be set further back from the others. 

How you approach a junction depends on what you intend to do, this may include, staying on the major road and passing the junction or turning into a side road to the left or right. 

Most junctions will have road signs or markings showing priority although where no priority is shown, take extra care. 

The procedure LMSM/PSL
On the approach to a junction a specific routine will need to be followed that may need several elements covered several times. 

When turning left from the major road into a side road;

Identify the junction and consider how far into the road you can see, this will mean looking for pedestrians and obstructions. 

Then check your interior then left mirrors to assess the speed and position of vehicles behind or besides, including cyclists. 

A signal will then need to be given in good time so that other road users know of your intentions and therefore have time to act.  It should be noted that you should not confuse others of your intentions so timing is important.  There is no actual distance as this will depend on speed and hazards. 

The manoeuvre phase is then split into three further elements. 

Adopt a position that will confirm your signal.  This will usually mean keeping to the left, the nearside about 1 metre (3 feet) from the kerb although this will be based on road width.  The rear wheels of the car do not steer so this will help to maintain a course that will avoid touching the kerb. 

The front of the vehicle should be level with the start of the corner before you begin to turn as there is risk of mounting the kerb if done earlier or going to wide if later. 

Adjust the speed of the car to reflect the sharpness of the turn and the road width to avoid swinging too wide.  Very simply you will need to have set the speed and correct gear before you turn to be in full control.  This will mean that you drive around the corner with the clutch up to avoid coasting. 

The looking phase will need to be applied throughout the procedure but it may be just prior to turning that you get a full view into the road you intend to turn. 

At this point you will need to be aware of pedestrians crossing the road as they have priority when they set foot into the road along with obstructions in the road or vehicles stopping. 

Turning right from the major road into a side road;

The procedure LMSM/PSL is similar to that shown above with some important exceptions. 

The position for turning right will need to be as close to the centre of the road as is safe so that vehicles may be able to pass on your left.  As safe means, taking into account obstructions on the right hand side of the road and road markings. 

If you are in a one way street then move to the right hand side of the road where appropriate as road markings will possibly determine the exact choice. 

The actual turning point will be when the front of your vehicle is level with the side of the road that you intend to turn.  This position will help you to see into the road more clearly and prevent cutting the corner. 

Watch out for oncoming traffic especially motorcyclists which are less easily seen as they have priority.  At this point you must not cause other road users to change speed or direction so as a general rule, if you feel you can walk across the road safely then you can drive across.  If you have any doubt, wait. 

Look carefully for anything that could prevent you entering a minor road safely including emerging vehicles or pedestrians that may leave you exposed on the wrong side of the road, risking serious incident.