Essential Skills 

Road Junctions

This is when you are leaving a main road to turn into a side road, gateways, or other entrances on your left. When turning left, you will have to give priority to oncoming or approaching traffic and to pedestrians crossing the road you are turning into. You must not cross the path of oncoming or approaching traffic if doing so will cause the vehicles to change speed or direction..  In approaching junction to turn left, use the MSPSL or hazard routine as follows:

 Mirrors – After identifying the road you want to turn into, the first thing to do is to check your mirrors. Check the interior and left door mirrors (in that order). The interior mirror gives you a picture of what is happening well behind, whilst the right door mirror will tell you whether there is any immediate problem close behind and to the left. You are doing this to make sure that it is safe to slow down and turn.

 Signal – After checking your mirrors and you have ascertained that it is safe to turn, give a left indicator signal. Signal in good time, but not too early, so you do not mislead or confuse other road users. You are signalling for other road users to recognise your intentions. Remember that you will be affecting people more due to needing to change position before turning and you may need to stop.

 Position – After signalling, move into position. For left turn, steer to take up a position just to the right of the centre line, to leave room for following traffic to overtake on your right.

Speed – Once in position to turn, you will need to adjust your speed and when travelling slowly enough, select the gear most appropriate for the speed you are travelling. 

Look – Finally, make sure it is safe to turn. Move up to the point of turn and look into the new road to assess how clear the junction is, and look out for parked vehicles or pedestrians who could be crossing the road, to decide whether it is safe or not to proceed. The point at which you should start to steer is called the ‘point of turn’ and can be judged by the front of your vehicle being approximately level with the centerline of the road you are joining. Avoid cutting the corner by turning too soon, as this could endanger you and others by putting yourself into the path of an approaching vehicle.

To help you to decide whether or not to make the turn, you can draw on your experience as a pedestrian. If you could safely cross the road in front of the approaching car on foot, then there will be enough time to drive across. If you find that you have to wait for oncoming traffic before turning into a side road on the left, stop just before the point of turn and select first gear, ready to move. If you have to wait for a while, apply your handbrake. At this point, you are looking for a safe gap in the oncoming traffic stream and prepare the car to move as the safe gap approaches to commence the turn 

After turning, make sure that your signal is cancelled and check your mirrors again to check the new situation behind you before increasing speed and making progress. You need to ensure that no one is trying to overtake.

 In next week’s article we shall be discussing emerging at T-junctions, that is, turning from a minor road to a major road using the Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed and Look routine (M-S-P-S-L routine).  For further explanations or clarification on the articles in the Essential Skills of Driving column, consult the author.

Stephen K. Dieseruvwe

Director General, Delta State Traffic Management Authority (DESTMA)

**Driver Trainer and Road Safety Consultant


**Tel: +2348167814928