When emerging from junctions, you must not cause anyone to change speed or direction. One of the hardest things is in judging the speed of other traffic. It isn’t just a case of looking at how far away a vehicle is; you also need to ask yourself:
- How quickly is it moving?
- Can I move away quickly enough to avoid affecting it?
- Is it hiding another vehicle which may overtake it?
If you’re in doubt, then wait. You must also be aware that smaller vehicles such as cycles and motorbikes can be much harder to spot and always make sure to look out for these.
You must also avoid the temptation to look in only one direction. When turning left, you may think that traffic coming from your right is your main concern, but think again.
Look at the next image; the car driver is about to turn left, they’re looking to the right but are they aware of the truck on the left which is passing a parked obstruction? In this situation the truck is more of a danger than anything coming from the right.
Whichever way you’re turning, always scan the whole area, including directly in front of you.
Zones of Vision
We mentioned earlier about blind spots, and how it isn’t possible to see everything from the car without moving your head. When emerging from junctions there are many blind spots.
Buildings, trees, lampposts, signs and even people stood on the pavement; all of these can partially block your view on the approach to a junction. What you need to do in these situations is to make the best use of ‘zones of vision’ – the parts of the road that you can see before, after, and in between these obstructions.
In image A the driver at position 1 can see the approaching motorcyclist through the gap in the trees. Further forward in position 2 that same driver cannot now see the rider.
In the second image the view opens up much more fully as the driver reaches the give way lines, but by this time the motorcycle rider is very close.
To make the best use of zones of vision, it’s important to start looking as soon as you can on the approach to junctions, and to keep that observation going as the situation changes. Always try to make use of those ‘sneak previews’ you can get by looking between, around and behind obstructions. If there’s anything blocking your view, then move carefully into a position where you can see past it. Only then can you make a safe decision. The golden rule is; the less you can see the slower your approach speed should be. You need more time to assess the situation; and more time to react should something suddenly come into view.