‘Clearance’ and ‘meeting traffic’ often go hand in hand. When passing stationary obstructions such as parked cars, you need to give them clearance of at least the width of an open door wherever possible. Where this is not possible, you should always reduce your speed.
If you have trouble judging how far away you are from parked cars, give them more room than you think you might need, and check their position in your left-hand door mirror as you pass them to get a better idea. On a quiet road where you’re not going to get in anyone’s way, you could even pull up alongside a parked car at what you think is the correct distance, look at how you appear to be positioned in relation to the other vehicle, and even get out of the car if it’s safe to check.
When the road is narrowed by obstructions (usually parked cars), and traffic is coming towards you; there may not necessarily be room for the both of you to continue. In this ‘meet’ situation someone will have to give way. The general rule is that if the obstruction is on your side then you should be the one to slow down or stop.
This is another situation where you need to plan and look well ahead. For instance, if there are a number of parked cars, is there room for you to pass one or two then a space to pull into to wait for the oncoming driver?
Always hold back if you’re not sure. Remember you need to have that ‘adequate clearance’ on both sides before you go through a gap.
If you’re following another driver into this situation, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can go where they do – there may not be time for you both to get through the gap before you reach the oncoming driver. Don’t try to use them as a shield, if they pull into the gap in between the parked cars you’re going to end up in trouble. Keep your distance and only go though when you’re certain there is enough room.
What about when there are obstructions on both sides? There is no rule of priority here; sometimes if the other driver reaches an obstruction first, they may decide to wait for you. You need to think about where the other driver has positioned and be aware of their speed; if you can see they’re beginning to move out a little then be prepared to stop. If they seem to be slowing then be prepared to go – with caution. Don’t rush it and always wait if you’re in any doubt.
Where the other driver is already in a central position however, as in the following image, then you have no alternative but to give way to them.