Safe Positioning

Overview: 

To ensure you drive in the correct position on the road your using. For your safety and that of other road users

Aims:

To know and understand the importance of keeping a safe position on the road

Objectives:

  • To know the safe position on a variety of roads
  • To understand positioning at road junctions
  • To understand safe positioning on bends
  • To safely be able to pass obstructions
  • To travel safely on one way roads

When driving in Great Britain you should normally keep to the left side of the road. Your position is important for both safety and so you do not unnecessarily hold up other traffic.

Always leave enough space next to your car if driving past parked vehicles and be aware of the possibility of:

  • People in parked cars opening their doors into the road
  • Pedestrians stepping out between parked vehicles
  • Children running out into the road (especially as they may be difficult to see if between parked cars.)

Never drive too close to the kerb, especially in areas with pedestrians.

The Correct Position

Keep to the left:

  • If you are driving straight ahead or turning left

Keep close to the centre of the road:

  • If you are turning right

One-Way Streets

On a one-way street the following rules should be applied:

To turn left:

  • Keep in the left hand lane

To turn right:

  • Keep in the right hand lane (as long as there are no obstructions in the right hand lane)

To go straight ahead:

  • Be guided by the road markings
  • If there are no specific lanes then the left lane is normally used

Get into the correct lane as soon as possible and be aware that other vehicles may pass your car on either side. Look out for other drivers who may make sudden lane changes, due to being in the wrong lane themselves.

Lane Discipline

Always follow road lane markings as they are there too:

  • Allow traffic to make the best possible use of the space on the road
  • Provide route directions for drivers

Always position yourself in good time. If you find you are in the wrong lane, never cut across other vehicles – carry on until you find another way to get back to your planned route.

At roundabouts make sure you don’t cut across the path of other vehicles.

Changing Lanes 

Select the lane you require as soon as possible and when it is safe to do so. Always check your mirrors and if necessary out of your window before changing lanes. When it is safe to do so, signal and once clear move out in the other lane. Always stay in the middle of your lane until you need to change.

When changing lanes never:

  • Weave between lanes or change lanes unnecessarily
  • Drive straddling two lanes
  • Change lanes at the last minute
  • Change lanes without signalling
  • Obstruct keep clear markings

When changing lanes always consider and be aware of:

  • Cyclists riding past you on the left side
  • Large vehicles that may need to straddle both lanes, especially when turning
  • Motorcyclists filtering between lanes
  • Car doors being opened
  • Pedestrians crossing the road

Bus, Taxi and Cycle lanes 

These are separate lanes found on some roads. Bus, Taxi and Cycle lanes are shown by signs and road markings. Never enter or drive in these lanes unless in a bus, bicycle or taxi.

Road Junctions

Always look out for upcoming road junctions and move into the correct lane in plenty of time.

Road junctions with two lanes in your direction:

  • if you are turning left – stay in the left hand lane
  • If you are going straight ahead – stay in the left hand lane unless otherwise indicated
  • If you are turning right – move to the right hand lane, allowing plenty of time

Road junctions with three lanes in your direction:

  • if you are turning left – stay in the left hand lane
  • If you are going straight ahead – usually stay in either the left or middle lanes (always be guided by road markings)
  • If you are turning right – use the right hand lane

Never try to gain an advantage over other traffic by using the incorrect lane, this can be dangerous for you and other road users.

Bends 

To drive safely around bends, always look ahead and try to assess:

  • how sharp the bend is
  • The speed at which you should travel to drive around the bend
  • Visibility around the bend
  • Weather conditions

On any bend with a restricted view always be prepared for oncoming vehicles, pedestrians on the side of the road, slow moving or broken down vehicles.

Positioning on bends

Left hand bend:

  • Keep to the centre of your lane.
  • DO NOT move to the centre of the road to improve your view as this may mean you are too close to oncoming traffic.

Right hand bend:

  • Keep to the left of your lane as this will improve your view.

Passing Obstructions in the road

Always attempt to plan ahead for any obstructions in the road. If passing an obstruction always use Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre to let others know what you are planning to do.

Whether you wait or chose to go around an obstruction will depend on:

  • The type of road
  • The width of the road
  • Where the obstruction is on the road
  • Approaching traffic
  • What the vehicles in front of you do
  • The room available to pass

If an obstruction is on your side of the road then approaching traffic will usually have priority.

If the obstruction is on the other side of the road, always be prepared to give way to oncoming traffic and be aware of the obstruction concealing pedestrians.

Passing Cyclists 

When overtaking a cyclist always allow plenty of room. Allow as much room as if you are overtaking a car. This allows for the possibility of the cyclist moving out into the road unexpectedly if they need to.

Narrow roads

On narrow or single lane roads, always look well ahead and be prepared to stop. If you see an oncoming vehicle:

  • Pull into a passing place on the left if possible
  • Be prepared to reverse to a passing place on the left
  • Wait opposite a passing place on the right

Avoid pulling up on verges or banks as there may be soft ground, ditches or dips.

If your view ahead is restricted by bends or hedges reduce your speed so you can stop safely.

Always give cyclists or horse riders plenty of space, be patient and prepared to stop if necessary. Only overtake when safe to do so.

Recap 

It is important for your safety and that of other road users and pedestrians, that your car is positioned correctly on the road.

Correct positioning will mean you are following the Highway Code and are able to safely drive around bends or past obstructions.

Any change of position should only be carried out after following the Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre routine.

At the end of this session you should know:

  • How to correctly position your car on a variety of roads
  • How to position your car at a junction
  • How to safely pass an obstruction
  • How to position your car safely when on a bend
  • How to drive on a single lane road safely

Further Reading:

The Highway Code Rule(s): 127-146, 152-156

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

On your driving test:

On test: Safe positioning

Assessment criteria: safe positioning

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