General Advice

  1. General advice
  2. Road use and Navigation
  3. Parking and Waiting
  4. Vulnerable Road Users
  5. Drivers and Motorcyclists
  6. Rules for Motorcyclists
  7. Pedestrians
  8. Defensive driving tips
  9. Road Test Tips
  10. Road Signs
  11. Highway Code Test

Signals on road

Hand signals on road
Hand signals on road to be given to traffic behind.

Use signals to inform other road users of your intended actions. Points to note:

  • give signals in plenty of time, having checked that your signal wont mislead other road users.
  • use signals to advise other road users before changing course or direction, stopping or taking off.
  • cancel signals after use.use an arm signal to emphasize or re-enforce a signal if there is a need.
  • Remember that signalling does not give you priority to any lane or course of action.

You MUST obey signals given by police officers, traffic officers, traffic wardens and signs used by school crossing patrols. These take precedence over any other road signs, signals or otherwise.

Traffic light signals and traffic signs MUST all be obeyed except in the presence of a traffic officer. Traffic light signals and traffic signs giving orders, including temporary signals & signs will be followed in all other circumstances. Make sure you know, understand and act on all other traffic and information signs and road markings and Vehicle markings.

Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message (like the presence of road blocks as is common on local roads) or intimidate other road users. Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully.

The horn must be used only while your vehicle is moving and there is need to warn other road users of your presence. Never sound your horn aggressively as this may cause panic and lead to accidents. You MUST NOT use your horn while stationary on the road except when another road user is in danger.

Lighting requirements

You MUST: ensure all sidelights and rear registration plate lights are lit between sunset and sunrise.use headlights at night, except on a road which has lit street lighting.use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced and poor.

You MUST NOT :use any lights in a way which would dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users.use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced. You MUST switch them off when visibility improves to avoid dazzling other road users.
In stationary queues of traffic, drivers should apply the parking brake and, once the following traffic has stopped, take their foot off the foot-brake to deactivate the vehicle brake lights. This will minimise glare to road users behind until the traffic moves again.

You should also :use dipped headlights, or dim-dip if fitted, at night in built-up areas and in dull daytime weather, to ensure that you can be seen.keep your headlights dipped when overtaking until you are level with the other vehicle and then change to main beam if necessary, unless this would dazzle oncoming road users.slow down, and if necessary stop, if you are dazzled by oncoming headlights.

Hazard warning lights may be used when your vehicle is stationary, to warn that it is temporarily obstructing traffic. Never use them as an excuse for dangerous or illegal parking. You MUST NOT use hazard warning lights while driving or being towed unless you are on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard or obstruction ahead. Only use them for long enough to ensure that your warning has been observed.

Controlling your vehicle

Braking

  • In normal circumstances the best way to brake is to do so early and lightly.
  • Brake more firmly as you begin to stop. Ease the pressure off just before the vehicle comes to rest to avoid a jerky stop.
  • In an emergency. Brake immediately. Try to avoid braking so harshly that you lock your wheels. Locked wheels can lead to loss of control.

Coasting

Coasting is driving a powered vehicle in neutral or with the clutch pressed down. It can reduce driver control because:

  • engine braking is eliminated.vehicle speed downhill will increase quickly.
  • increased use of the foot-brake can reduce its effectiveness.
  • steering response will be affected, particularly on bends and corners.
  • it may be more difficult to select the appropriate gear when needed.

Speed limits

You MUST NOT exceed the maximum speed limits for the road and for your vehicle.

The speed limit is the absolute maximum and does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed irrespective of conditions. Driving at speeds too fast for the road and traffic conditions is dangerous. You should always reduce your speed when

  • the road layout or condition presents hazards, such as bends.
  • sharing the road with pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, particularly children, and motorcyclists.
  • weather conditions make it safer to do so.
  • driving at night as it is more difficult to see other road users.

Stopping Distance

Braking distance
Braking and reacting distance

Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear. You should:

  • leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly slows down or stops. The safe rule is never to get closer than the overall stopping distance.
  • allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced. The gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads.
  • remember, large vehicles and motorcycles need a greater distance to stop. If driving a large vehicle in a tunnel, you should allow a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front.
  • If you have to stop in a tunnel, leave at least a 5-metre gap between you and the vehicle in front.

Lines and lane markings

A broken white line marks the centre of the road. When this line lengthens and the gaps shorten, it means that there is a hazard ahead. Do not cross it unless you can see the road is clear and wish to overtake or turn off.

Double white lines where the line nearest to you is broken mean you may cross the lines to overtake if it is safe, provided you can complete the manoeuvre before reaching a solid white line on your side. White direction arrows on the road indicate that you need to get back onto your side of the road.

Double white lines where the line nearest you is solid mean you MUST NOT cross or drive on it unless it is safe and you need to enter adjoining premises or a side road. You may cross the line if necessary, provided the road is clear, to pass a stationary vehicle, or overtake a pedal cycle, horse or road maintenance vehicle.

Lane dividers are short, broken white lines which are used on wide carriageways to divide them into lanes. You should keep between them.

Reflective road studs may be used with white lines.

  • White studs mark the lanes or the middle of the road.
  • Red studs mark the left edge of the road.
  • Amber studs mark the central reservation of a dual carriageway or motorway.
  • Green studs mark the edge of the main carriageway at lay-bys and slip roads.
  • Green/yellow studs indicate temporary adjustments to lane layouts, e.g. where road works are taking place.

Multi-lane carriageways

If you need to change lane, first use your mirrors and if necessary take a quick sideways glance to make sure you will not force another road user to change course or speed. When it is safe to do so, signal to indicate your intentions to other road users and when clear, move over.

You should follow the signs and road markings and get into the lane as directed. In congested road conditions do not change lanes unnecessarily. Merging in turn is recommended but only if safe and appropriate when vehicles are travelling at a very low speed, e.g. when approaching road works or a road traffic incident. It is not recommended at high speed.

Where a single carriageway has three lanes and the road markings or signs do not give priority to traffic in either direction :

  • use the middle lane only for overtaking or turning right. Remember, you have no more right to use the middle lane than a driver coming from the opposite direction.
  • do not use the right-hand lane.

Climbing and crawler lanes are provided on some hills. Use this lane if you are driving a slow-moving vehicle or if there are vehicles behind you wishing to overtake. Be aware of the signs and road markings which indicate the lane is about to end.

Cycle lanes are shown by road markings and signs. You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable. You MUST NOT park in any cycle lane whilst waiting restrictions apply.

On One-way streets, traffic MUST travel in the direction indicated by signs. Buses and/or cycles may have a contraflow lane. Choose the correct lane for your exit as soon as you can. Do not change lanes suddenly. Unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise, you should use:

  • the left-hand lane when going left.
  • the right-hand lane when going right.
  • the most appropriate lane when going straight ahead.

Mobile phones and in-vehicle Multi-media Devices

You MUST exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times.
You MUST NOT use a hand-held mobile phone, or similar device, when driving or when supervising a learner driver, except to call emergency services in a genuine emergency when it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
Never use a hand-held microphone when driving. Using hands-free equipment is also likely to distract your attention from the road. It is far safer not to use any telephone while you are driving or riding – find a safe place to stop first or use the voice-mail facility and listen to messages later.