You’re turning left into a side road. What hazard should you be especially aware of?

Question Topic: Vulnerable road users

Mark one answer
One-way street
Traffic congestion
Parked vehicles
Pedestrians

When making a left turn you need to be aware of potential hazards that you cannot see. You also need to be especially aware of pedestrians in the road as they will be more likely to cross at junctions. They have right of way when crossing and are also harder to see than other road users. This makes them particularly vulnerable. As such, you need to take extra care when turning left and ensure you make the turn safely for this vulnerable group.

How can you turn left into a side road safely?

When approaching the left turn you should take up the appropriate road position towards the left of the road early. You should reduce your speed in good time and ensure that you do not swing out to the right as you make the turn. You should also be in a suitable gear for the turn to be made at a lower speed. Be sure to look carefully to see if any pedestrians are crossing the road before turning. You should always give way to pedestrians who have already started to cross the road.

Theory Test Question

Have you tried to answer the theory test question: You’re turning left into a side road. What hazard should you be especially aware of? Let’s take each answer in turn and check your understanding:

One-way street

Wrong! You should be sure you are not going to turn into a one-way street before you have started making the turn.

Traffic congestion

Wrong! You should always make a turn at an appropriate speed that means you can come to a stop if necessary. As such, you do not need to be especially aware of traffic when making this turn.

Parked vehicles

Wrong! Vehicles should not be parked on a corner of a junction and will be easily visible. You should also be sure that the road is clear and reduce your speed in plenty of time before making the turn.

Pedestrians

Correct! Pedestrians are vulnerable road users and are more likely to be crossing at a junction. They are not always easily visible so you need to be especially aware of pedestrians when turning left into a side road.

References

In section 8 of the official DVSA guide to driving, it states:

Use the MSM/PSL routine on approach.

Road position

Your road position should be well to the left.

Speed on approach

Left turns into minor roads are often sharper than right turns.

Make sure you

  • slow down sufficiently
  • select the correct gear

or you could swing wide of the corner and finish up on the wrong side of the road.

Other vehicles

Watch out for vehicles

  • stopping to park, or parked, just before a left-hand junction
  • parked around the corner and close to the junction
  • approaching in the side road.

Pedestrians and cyclists

You should

  • give way to pedestrians already crossing when you turn – they have priority
  • keep a special lookout for cyclists coming up on your left
  • take special care when crossing a cycle track, bus lane or cycle lane
  • hold back and allow a cyclist to clear the junction before you turn. Don’t overtake and then immediately turn across their path.

Avoid steering too early or too sharply; your nearside rear wheel might mount the kerb.

Rule 170 of the Highway Code states:

Rule 170: Give way to pedestrians who have started to cross

Take extra care at junctions. You should

  • watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists, powered wheelchairs/mobility scooters and pedestrians as they are not always easy to see. Be aware that they may not have seen or heard you if you are approaching from behind
  • watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way
  • watch out for long vehicles which may be turning at a junction ahead; they may have to use the whole width of the road to make the turn (see Rule 221)
  • watch out for horse riders who may take a different line on the road from that which you would expect
  • not assume, when waiting at a junction, that a vehicle coming from the right and signalling left will actually turn. Wait and make sure
  • look all around before emerging. Do not cross or join a road until there is a gap large enough for you to do so safely.

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