This section is all about traffic lights:
The first thing to talk about is the phasing of traffic lights:
Phase 1- RED - Stop (wait behind the stop line)
Phase 2 RED & AMBER - Prepare to go
Phase 3 Green - You may go on if the way is clear. (Take special care if you intend to turn left or right and give way to pedestrians who are crossing)
Phase 4 Amber - stop unless dangerous
As you approach traffic lights it is important that you are aware of the traffic behind you. As you approach a green traffic light you have no way of knowing when it will change so by being aware of following traffic you can make a decision in advance. Decide as you approach at which point it would become too late or dangerous to try and stop - draw an imaginary line. Once you've reached your line you know that you're not able to stop safely so you would keep going if the lights changed to amber after this point. Conversly if you have not yet reached your imaginary line you know that you are safe to stop. (remember to factor into your decision that in the real world the traffic behind you will not be expecting you to stop on an amber light - most people keep going until red!!)
When you stop you must stop at the stop line. In the picture the stop line is just in front of the red car. The green area is an advanced stop line for cyclists. If traffic is heavy make sure that you can clear the whole junction - dont get stranded in the middle if the lights change after this point you will be blocking other traffic.
Turning left or going straight ahead you have priority over traffic turning across your path and so would not normally have to stop and give way in the same way that you would if turning right. Once you have a green light you can go if it is safe and clear ahead.
If you have a round green light if you are turning right you would normally creep out into the middle of the junction (as shown in pic) YOU MUST GIVE WAY TO ONCOMING TRAFFIC and wait for a gap in the oncoming traffic do not cause an oncoming vehicle to have to slow down or change course! Ensure your waiting position will not hinder oncoming traffic or traffic opposite you also turning right.
Sometimes you will see an extra green filter arrow to turn right. At some junctions this will be on straight away at others it may come on after the main green phase to allow people to turn right. If a green filter arrow comes on you may turn right as long as oncoming traffic has been stopped. If there is a gap in the traffic before the filter arrow comes on you may still go.
However, you must not rely on the fact that the arrow will come on, most traffic lights nowadays have vehicle detector loops fitted which enables the lights to detect when cars are travelling towards them. This may mean that if just a few cars are waiting to turn, it may not activate the filter arrow. Once you are positioned in the middle be prepared to go, if there is no arrow or if it doesn't come on the lights may simply change back to red. If you are in the middle of the junction once the oncoming traffic has stopped you must go as soon as possible.
Sometimes you will come across lights which don't have a round green light (normally because of space constrictions) If you are turning right and there is no round green light you must wait at the stop line for a green arrow to the right. Only traffic going in the direction of the arrows can procede. (in the pic you can see traffic ok to go left or straight ahead but not right). Here you must wait at the stop line.
When there are roadworks you will sometimes come across temporary traffic lights - treat the red sign as the stop line but make sure you chose your stopping position carefully as the signs are often put in places where you would block access to a road.
Stop Go boards are normally manually operated. If you have to stop hold back in a suitable position that will allow oncoming traffic to pass you and so that you wont block access to any roads.
Knowing the speed limit is very important - not just for your test but in real life too. The speed limits are there for a reason and it is very important that you obey them. Speeding can be very dangerous and is also an offence which carries a penalty of at least 3 points and a £60 fine excessive speeding could end up with you losing your licence and even going to prison! After passing your test you have a period of 2 years probation if you amass 6 penalty points or more during this time you will lose your licence. You will have to then apply for a new provisional licence and then take and pass both the theory and practical driving tests!!
Generally around town (built up areas) where there are street lamps the speed limit is 30 mph. You will not normally see any reminder signs for 30mph only when you first enter a 30mph zone from another speed limt zone. If you can't see any speed limit signs and you are in a built up area with street lamps always assume the limit is 30mph. Where there are street lamps the speed limit will always be 30mph unless there are other speed limit signs.
On faster roads with limits of 40mph or 50mph (vehicles other than cars may be restricted to lower limts on some roads ie: lorries and caravan or trailer towers) you should see a sign when entering the area and regular reminder signs. These roads will sometimes still have street lamps but would normally be further away from houses and pavements.
National Speed limit roads are indicated by this white sign with a diagonal black stripe. These roads are not subject to the usual restriction of 30, 40 or 50mph. The national speed limit is 60mph on a single carriageway road and 70mph on a dual carriageway (A dual carriageway normally has 2 or more lanes going in the same direction with a central reservation). Generally they would not have any street lamps. You would see a sign as you enter the unrestricted zone and no reminder signs, unless you travel through a section that is lit by street lamps These roads normally look much more "rural" often with trees and fields on 1 or both sides.
If there are no street lamps and no signs = national speed limit
Street lamps and no signs = 30mph
40 and 50mph will always have speed limit signs and may or may not have street lighting.
Try and adapt your driving to the type and condition of road you are on. Do not treat speed limits as a target. It is often not appropriate or safe to drive at the maximum speed limit, take the road and traffic conditions into account. Be prepared for unexpected or difficult situations, for example, the road being blocked beyond a blind bend. Be prepared to adjust your speed as a precaution where there are junctions, be prepared for road users emerging in side roads and country lanes look out for unmarked junctions where nobody has priority be prepared to stop at traffic control systems, road works, pedestrian crossings or traffic lights as necessary try to anticipate what pedestrians and cyclists might do. If pedestrians, particularly children, are looking the other way, they may step out into the road without seeing you.
On Motorways unless other wise restricted The national speed limit is 70mph.
According to statistics somewhere in the region of 95% of all accidents/crashes are caused by Driver Error. This means that the vast majority of all accidents are completely avoidable if we were all to drive in the "correct" way!!!
The way we should all be driving is Defensively. Defensive Driving is all about making sure that we are predicting and anticipating the actions, good or bad, of other road users and pedestrians and ensuring that our vehicles are then at the correct speed, in the correct gear and position to deal with the anticipated hazard/action without unduely affecting those behind us.
The Hazard perception test is designed to develop these skills in new drivers. We should be looking a long way ahead of the vehicle to see approaching hazards in plenty of time to effectively plan as we approach the hazard.- Use observation links to anticipate potential hazards(ie: Ice cream van parked up would most likely mean children crossing the road without paying attention etc...) - Look at what we can see and at what you can't see and think about what you could reasonably expect to happen in the situation.
Remember most people do not drive like this and this is what makes it even more important that if you want to stay safe you should drive defensively.
Driving like this also has benefits in terms of fuel effeciency and wear and tear costs - better planning means smoother acceleration and early gentle braking - Eco Safe Driving
Meeting Oncoming traffic when there is only room for 1 car to fit through the gap:
As you are driving you should be constantly scanning the road ahead, looking out for hazards, a meeting situation is just another hazard that you will have to deal with on a regular basis.
If the obstruction is on your side of the road than it is down to you to give way to the oncoming traffic. Ensure that you react in plenty of time and allow enough time to "hold back" in a suitable position - This would ideally be a car length or 2 from the obstruction, (this allows for better visabilty and makes it easier to steer around the obstruction) Try to also keep out from the kerb towards the centre line where possible (make sure you don't obstruct the oncoming traffic) as this will also make it easier to see and to be seen by others. ( too close to the kerb and you may look like a parked car to those approaching from behind you) Always check your mirrors before pulling away again and signal if neccessary.
If the obstruction is on the other side of the road then it is your "right of way" or priority. However never make the mistake of assuming that someone will give way to you. Wait until you can see that they are doing so. Sometimes the shape of the road can make it very difficult to see if there is any oncoming traffic and so you may find that sometimes you may have to give way even when you should have priority if an oncoming vehicle has already started to come through the gap.
When approaching a situation with parked cars on both sides of the road - Look at the position of the oncoming car is it moving towards the left to give way or in the middle of the road to come through the gap? Try to assess the speed of the oncoming vehicle: Who would reach the obstruction first them or you? If the oncoming car reaches the gap first then thay will very likely position to continue. You would then have to give way. if you would reach it first then position to take priority by moving out into the centre of the road. ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR THE ONCOMING CAR TO NOT DO WHAT YOU EXPECT SO APPROACH CAUTIOUSLY. If in doubt giveway.
If you are in a situation where there are lots of parked cars down both sides of the road always be on the look out for gaps that you can pull into. Also look out for gaps on the other side of the road. As a vehicle approaches look to the point where you would meet each other then look for the most convenient gap nearest that point. One thing we can say fairly certainly is that people don't like having to stop and give way so look for the gap that allows you both to progress as much as possible. AS WITH ANY OF THESE SITUATIONS NEVER ASSUME THAT YOU KNOW WHAT THE OTHER DRIVER WILL DO. BE PREPARED TO GIVE WAY. IF YOU ARE NOT SURE - GIVE WAY.
In any situation like this make sure that you maintain safe clearance of the parked cars or obstructions - ideally a metre. If you need to be closer then make sure you slow down just in case someone opens a car door or walks out in between the parked cars.
Use the LADA Technique: Look, Assess, Decide, Act
When approaching a roundabout it is very important that you allow your self enough time in order to arrive at the roundabout at a safe speed in the correct gear and to allow your self time to make an accurate decision about whether to procede or stop.
Start looking at the roundabout as soon as you are able to the speed you use to approach will depend on what route you are taking and whether you can see clearly what other traffic is approaching from other directions.
Check mirrors, signal and position in good time adjust your speed according to what you can see always assume traffic will be continuing around the roundabout if you are unsure. It is always better to speed up rather than suddenly slow down. (MSPSL: Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed, Look)
Make sure you maintain good lane discipline and signal in plenty of time.
Which Lanes to use:
Making a LEFT turn, Examiner will ask you to "Turn left Taking the FIRST exit" - Stay in the left-hand lane, indicate "left" as you approach and continue to indicate until you have passed through the roundabout. (orange route on pic)
These instructions are for a simple roundabout. Take care to watch for local markings which may alter your normal position ( these may be in place to deal with heavy traffic in certain directions). Also some roundabouts have stop signs or traffic lights which you must always obey.
Some Roundabouts (usually big and busy ones) are spiral roundabouts. Millbrook Roundabout is an example of this: Instead of the usual 2 (or in this case 3) lanes forming rings around the centre the markings are much more complicated and potentialy confusing. You do not need to change lanes on a spiral roundabout instead each exit has a designated lane which comes off at the exit so you stay in the same lane and with each exit you pass your lane drifts towards the outside of the roundabout like a spiral. So technically it should be safer because no one should need to change lanes as your lane will progressively take you from the inside towards the outside of the roundabout and right into your exit. Pay close attention to all signs on approach and in particular the lane markings to ensure you keep in the right position at all times.
Emergency vehicles with flashing blue lights:
The Following Emergency services are permitted to use flashing blue lights:
There are more but these are the main ones you will likely come across.
You will often hear a siren before you see the vehicle so take extra care if you are approaching a junction or roundabout as emergency vehicles may be travelling through a red light or pull out in front of you were you would usually have the priority. Try to assess where the vehicle is coming from as you may have to take action to keep out of the way.
Emergency and Incident Support vehicles. You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using flashing blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights, or Highways Agency Traffic Officer and Incident Support vehicles using flashing amber lights. When one approaches do not panic. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs. If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of road. Do not endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians and avoid mounting the kerb. Do not brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may not have the same view as you.
When you are on a dual carriage way normal practice is for the emergency vehicle to use the overtaking lane - beware of traffic needing to move into the left lane to allow it to pass.
In busy town centres bus lanes are often used. Sometimes you will find yourself in a situation where you are waiting at a junction and will need to move out of the way. DO NOT PUT YOURSELF OR ANY OTHER VEHICLE/PEDESTRIAN AT RISK. Don't just move off through a red light but consider whether you could safely move forward past the stop line without encroaching the path of the flowing traffic. Do not mount the pavement unless absolutely neccessary check first that ther are no pedestrians or cyclists.
Warning signs or flashing lights:
If you see or hear emergency or incident support vehicles in the distance, be aware there may be an incident ahead. Police Officers and Highways Agency Traffic Officers may be required to work in the carriageway, for example dealing with debris, collisions or conducting rolling road blocks. Police officers will use rear-facing flashing red and blue lights and HA Traffic Officers will use rear-facing flashing red and amber lights in these situations. Watch out for such signals, slow down and be prepared to stop. You MUST follow any directions given by Police officers or Traffic officers as to whether you can safely pass the incident or blockage.
When passing the scene of an incident or crash do not be distracted or slow down unnecessarily (for example if an incident is on the other side of a dual carriageway). This may cause a collision or traffic congestion.
If you are involved in a crash or stop to give assistance use your hazard warning lights to warn other traffic ask drivers to switch off their engines and stop smoking. Arrange for the emergency services to be called immediately with full details of the incident location and any casualties (on a motorway, use the emergency telephone which allows easy location by the emergency services. If you use a mobile phone, first make sure you have identified your location from the marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder)
Move un-injured people away from the vehicles to safety; on a motorway this should, if possible, be well away from the traffic, the hard shoulder and the central reservation. Do not move injured people from their vehicles unless they are in immediate danger from fire or explosion. Do not remove a motorcyclist’s helmet unless it is essential to do so. Be prepared to give first aid. Stay at the scene until emergency services arrive
If you are involved in any other medical emergency on the motorway you should contact the emergency services in the same way.
If you are involved in a collision which causes damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property, you MUST stop give your own and the vehicle owner’s name and address, and the registration number of the vehicle, to anyone having reasonable grounds for requiring them. Also make sure you get the details of any one else involved and any witnesses. If you do not give your name and address at the time of the collision, report it to the police as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case within 24 hours
If another person is injured and you do not produce your insurance certificate at the time of the crash to a police officer or to anyone having reasonable grounds to request it, you MUST report it to the police as soon as possible and in any case within 24 hours produce your insurance certificate for the police within seven days.
There are many different styles of pedestrian crossings but they can be split into, basically, crossings controlled by traffic lights and those that aren't, it is these that we will look at first:
We should approach these crossings with extreme caution. As a driver you should give way to any pedestrians on the crossing (or approaching). Sometimes it can be difficult to see whether or not there are pedestrians approaching the crossing and so on approach we should be anticipating people crossing and slowing down.
Remember there could be people approaching very quickly or even on a bike. Often children may not take too much care at crossings so be aware, especially at school times.
Always obey the "stop" sign carried by the lollipop person. be prepared for kids to run or cycle across the road. Do not procede until signalled by the lollipop person to do so.
Safe havens are often provided on busy roads to help people cross the road safely. They are simply islands in the middle of the road and don't afford the pedestrian any more priority than they would usually have - That is if they have stepped out onto the road you should give way.
TRAFFIC LIGHT CONTROLLED CROSSINGS:
There are several different types of light controlled crossings but the general principals are the same with all of them.
As you approach: scan ahead: are there any pedestrians approaching or waiting at the side of the crossing? - if so anticipate the lights changing. Always approach with caution.
You must obey the traffic lights as you would in any other situation: Pelican crossings have a traffic light phase that is a "flashing Amber light" phase - This means beware of anyone still crossing but if the crossing is clear you may procede.
On these pictures you can see the zig zag markings on the road at a pedestrian crossing (Including Zebras). These mean: No Parking and No overtaking. These 2 things would be dangerous as you would obstruct the view for other road users and pedestrians (or have an obstructed view). If you cannot see both sides clearly as you approach then use caution. DO NOT ENCOURAGE PEDESTRIANS TO CROSS BY WAVING OR GESTURING - YOU CANNOT CONTROL THE OTHER TRAFFIC.
Level crossings: obey the traffic lights do not cross the stop line when the warning lights are showing.