Road Use and Navigation

  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

Starting and taking off

Car mirror blindspot

Before moving off you should:

  • use all mirrors to check the road is clear.
  • look around to check the blind spots (the areas you are unable to see in the mirrors).
    signal if necessary before moving out.
  • look around for a final check.

Move off only when it is safe to do so.

Once moving you should:

  • keep to the left, unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise. The exceptions are when you want to overtake, turn right or pass parked vehicles or pedestrians in the road.
  • keep well to the left on right-hand bends. This will improve your view of the road and help avoid the risk of colliding with traffic approaching from the opposite direction.
  • drive with both hands on the wheel where possible. This will help you to remain in full control of the vehicle at all times.
  • be aware of other road users, especially cycles and motorcycles who may be filtering through the traffic. These are more difficult to see than larger vehicles and their riders are particularly vulnerable. Give them plenty of room, especially if you are driving a long vehicle or towing a trailer.
  • select a lower gear before you reach a long downhill slope. This will help to control your speed. when towing, remember the extra length will affect overtaking and maneuvering. The extra weight will also affect the braking and acceleration.

All mirrors should be used effectively throughout your journey. You should:

use your mirrors frequently so that you always know what is behind and to each side of you. use them in good time before you signal or change direction or speed. be aware that mirrors do not cover all areas and there will be blind spots.

Overtaking

Overtaking trucks

Before overtaking you should make sure :

  • the road is sufficiently clear ahead.
  • road users are not beginning to overtake you.
  • there is a suitable gap in front of the road user you plan to overtake.

Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should :

  • not get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake.
  • use your mirrors, signal when it is safe to do so, take a quick sideways glance if necessary into the blind spot area and then start to move out.
  • not assume that you can simply follow a vehicle ahead which is overtaking; there may only be enough room for one vehicle. move quickly past the vehicle you are overtaking, once you have started to overtake. Allow plenty of room. Move back to the left as soon as you can but do not cut in.
  • take extra care at night and in poor visibility when it is harder to judge speed and distance.
  • give way to oncoming vehicles before passing parked vehicles or other obstructions on your side of the road.
  • only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right, and there is room to do so.
  • stay in your lane if traffic is moving slowly in queues. If the queue on your right is moving more slowly than you are, you may pass on the left
  • give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.

Overtaking large vehicles these is more difficult. You should :

  • drop back. This will increase your ability to see ahead and should allow the driver of the large vehicle to see you in their mirrors. Getting too close to large vehicles, including agricultural vehicles such as a tractor with a trailer or other fixed equipment, will obscure your view of the road ahead and there may be another slow-moving vehicle in front.
  • make sure that you have enough room to complete your overtaking manoeuvre before committing yourself. It takes longer to pass a large vehicle. If in doubt do not overtake.
  • not assume you can follow a vehicle ahead which is overtaking a long vehicle. If a problem develops, they may abort overtaking and pull back in.

DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example :

  • approaching or at a road junction on either side of the road.
  • where the road narrows.
  • when approaching a school crossing patrol.
  • where traffic is queuing at junctions or road works.
  • when you would force another road user to swerve or slow down. at a level crossing.
  • when a road user is indicating right, even if you believe the signal should have been cancelled.
  • Do not take a risk; wait for the signal to be cancelled.
  • stay behind if you are following a cyclist approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left.

Road Intersections

Take extra care at junctions. You should :

  • watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists, powered wheelchairs/mobility scooters and pedestrians as they are not always easy to see. Be aware that they may not have seen or heard you if you are approaching from behind.
  • watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way.
  • watch out for long vehicles which may be turning at a junction ahead; they may have to use the whole width of the road to make the turn.
  • watch out for horse riders who may take a different line on the road from that which you would expect.
  • not assume, when waiting at a junction, that a vehicle coming from the right and signalling left will actually turn. Wait and make sure.
  • look all around before emerging. Do not cross or join a road until there is a gap large enough for you to do so safely.

You MUST stop behind the line at a junction with a ‘Stop’ sign and a solid white line across the road. Wait for a safe gap in the traffic before you move off.

At an Intersection with traffic lights you MUST stop behind the white ‘Stop’ line across your side of the road unless the light is green. If the amber light appears you may go on only if you have already crossed the stop line or are so close to it that to stop might cause a collision. Do not race or speed up in order to try and beat the light before it changes.

Turning

Turning Right

Before turning right you should :

  • use your mirrors to make sure you know the position and movement of traffic behind you.
  • give a right-turn signal.
  • take up a position just left of the middle of the road or in the space marked for traffic turning right.
  • leave room for other vehicles to pass on the left, if possible.

When turning right at crossroads where an oncoming vehicle is also turning right, there is a choice of two methods:

  • turn right side to right side; keep the other vehicle on your right and turn behind it. This is generally the safer method as you have a clear view of any approaching traffic when completing your turn.
  • left side to left side, turning in front of each other. This can block your view of oncoming vehicles, so take extra care. Cyclists and motorcyclists in particular may be hidden from your view. Road layout, markings or how the other vehicle is positioned can determine which course should be taken.

Turning left

Use your mirrors and give a left-turn signal well before you turn left. Do not overtake just before you turn left and watch out for traffic coming up on your left before you make the turn, especially if driving a large vehicle. Cyclists, motorcyclists and other road users in particular may be hidden from your view.

When turning :

  • keep as close to the left as is safe and practicable.
  • give way to any vehicles using a bus lane, cycle lane or tramway from either direction.

Roundabouts

On approaching a roundabout take notice and act on all the information available to you, including traffic signs, traffic lights and lane markings which direct you into the correct lane.

Pedestrian crossing  at a roundabout
Pedestrian crossing at a roundabout

When reaching the roundabout you should :

  • give priority to traffic approaching from your right, unless directed otherwise by signs, road markings or traffic lights.
  • check whether road markings allow you to enter the roundabout without giving way. If so, proceed, but still look to the right before joining.
  • watch out for all other road users already on the roundabout; be aware they may not be signalling correctly or at all.
  • look forward before moving off to make sure traffic in front has moved off.

Signals and position. When taking the first exit, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise :

  • signal left and approach in the left-hand lane.
  • keep to the left on the roundabout and continue signalling left to leave.

When taking an exit to the right or going full circle, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise :

  • signal right and approach in the right-hand lane.
  • keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to exit the roundabout.
  • signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want.

When taking any intermediate exit, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise :

  • select the appropriate lane on approach to and on the roundabout.
  • you should not normally need to signal on approach.
  • stay in this lane until you need to alter course to exit the roundabout
  • signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want.

When there are more than three lanes at the entrance to a roundabout, use the most appropriate lane on approach and through it.

Pedestrian crossings

You MUST NOT park on a crossing or in the area covered by the zebra crossing lines. You MUST NOT overtake the moving vehicle nearest the crossing or the vehicle nearest the crossing which has stopped to give way to pedestrians.

As you approach a zebra crossing :

  • look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross.
  • you MUST give way when a pedestrian has moved onto a crossing.
  • allow more time for stopping on wet or icy roads.
  • do not wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians across; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching.
  • be aware of pedestrians approaching from the side of the crossing.