Other traffic


To be able to drive safely and confidently when driving around other traffic


To know and understand the importance of being able to drive safely around other road users in a variety of situations and on a variety of road types


  • To be able to safely negotiate situations involving other traffic
  • To understand when to give way to other vehicles
  • To know what to do when meeting other traffic, crossing other traffic and overtaking


Understand the rules of dealing with other traffic

Heavy traffic

It is important to know how to deal confidently with other traffic in a variety of situations. Always:

  • Ensure you follow the Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre routine whenever you change direction, turn or overtake another vehicle
  • Plan and anticipate for what other drivers may be about to do and what you may need to do in response
  • Know why and when to give way – for example if there is an obstruction on your side of the road
  • When passing parked vehicles always be aware of the possibility of car doors opening or pedestrians stepping out from between parked vehicles
  • When passing cyclists, pedestrians on the road or horses always slow down and give them as much space on the road as you would if overtaking another car

One Way Roads

One way road sign

All traffic must travel in the direction indicated by the one way signs. If there are several lanes then always make sure you are in the correct lane as soon as you can. Never change lanes suddenly. The normal lanes to use are:

  • Use the left hand lane when turning left
  • Use the right hand lane when turning right
  • Use the most appropriate lane if continuing straight on

Follow these rules unless the roads are otherwise marked by road signs or markings.

Giving Way

Give way sign

Give Way signs are made up of a red triangle pointing downwards with black lettering on a white background. They are the only road sign that has a downward pointing triangle. This means that even when you can’t read what it says, the shape tells you what it means.

Give Way signs show that the traffic on the road ahead has priority. It is important to understand that there is only priority, never right of way. You MUST give way if this helps to avoid an accident.

At a Give Way sign always:

  • Give way to all traffic on the major road
  • Wait until safe to do so before entering the major road. You must not put other road users in a position where they need to change speed, direction or apply their brakes.
  • Always Look, Assess, Decide and Act at any Give Way sign.

Other situations may occur where you need to Give Way to other traffic, even though no sign is displayed.

These include:

  • When there is an obstruction on the side of the road you are travelling on. Always be prepared to give way to oncoming traffic
  • When you are joining a motorway, the traffic already on the motorway has priority and you should not join the flow of traffic until it is safe to do so. You must blend in. Signaling will help a lot.
  • At the approach to a junction, you must give way to traffic on the main road if there are broken white lines across the road
  • If turning left always give way to vehicles in bus lanes, cycle lanes or tramways
  • At a roundabout, give priority to traffic approaching from your right unless directed otherwise by road signs or markings say otherwise.
  • If crossing a pavement, for example to reach a driveway, always give way to pedestrians

Meeting, crossing and overtaking

Busy road with few gaps

It is likely that the majority of the time you are driving, there will be other vehicles and road users around you. It is important that you can deal with this in a safe and confident manner.

When meeting other traffic:

  • If there are parked cars or other obstructions on your side of the road, then you must be prepared to give way to oncoming traffic if necessary.
  • On narrow roads you may need to use passing places to allow other road users to pass.
  • If the passing place is on the opposite side of the road to you, then wait opposite it to allow the other vehicle to enter it.

You will need to cross the path of other traffic if you are turning right, into a side road or driveway. Or when turning right out of a road.

When crossing traffic always:

  • Position your car as close to the centre of the road as safe
  • Check for any incoming traffic before crossing
  • Be prepared to stop if necessary and then cross once safe to do so
  • A good rule of thumb is, if you were a pedestrian waiting to cross, could you safely walk in front of the car coming towards you.

When overtaking:

  • Only overtake when it is safe and legal to do so.
  • Always pay attention to road markings and signs to ensure you are in an area where it is legal to overtake
  • When overtaking always start to plan early so that you have a good view of the road ahead
  • Always check the positions of any vehicles behind, in front and coming towards you
Do not overtake if there is a junction on either side:
  • A car or bike may pull out of the junction and into your path
  • You might not be seen by someone looking the other way waiting to pull out
You must never overtake if:
  • You would have to cross double white lines, with a solid line nearest to you
  • You would have to enter an area designed to divide traffic, if it is surrounded by a solid white line
  • If overtaking would mean entering a lane reserved for buses or cycles
  • After passing a ‘No Overtaking’ sign, until you have passed a sign cancelling this restriction

Remember from the section on speed: you have to keep within the limit even when overtaking.


It is important that you know how to deal safely with other traffic on the road. As the majority of time you are in your car, there will be other road users around you. Knowing how to confidently meet, cross and overtake other traffic is important both for your safety and that of others using the roads.

You should know how to:

  • Deal with other traffic
  • Meet, cross and overtake other traffic
  • Giveway

Further Reading:

The Highway Code Rule(s): 133-143, 146, 151-155, 162-168

Driving The Essential Skills: Section(s) 7, 8 and 10

On your driving test:

On test: Other traffic

Assessment criteria: Other traffic

Driving Examiner Guidance: Overtaking, meeting and crossing