AÂ T-Junction, as the name implies, is a point where one road meets another without crossing it, forming the shape of the letter â€˜Tâ€™. Emerging at T-junction is the term used in driving to describe the process of leaving a minor (side) road to join a major (main) road to turn right or left. In ideal situations, the junctions should be clearly marked as either â€˜Give wayâ€™ or â€˜Stopâ€™, but in Nigeria, road signs and road markings are rarely part of our road furniture, hence a vast majority of our junctions are classed as â€˜Unmarkedâ€™. Although your actions may vary from one junction to another as a result of the road and traffic conditions, on the whole, the routine will always be the same, viz: approach using the MSPSL or hazard routine; position your vehicle for your right or left turn; assess the major (main) road; and emerge when it is safe to do so. When emerging from a minor (side) road, your view into the major (main) road will determine your speed of approach. Generally speaking, T-junctions are classified into two categories – â€˜openâ€™ or â€˜closedâ€™. An â€˜openâ€™ junction is one where your sightline (zone of vision) into the major (main) road you are entering will be fairly clear of obstructions so you can see other traffic before you arrive at the mouth of the junction. A â€˜closedâ€™ junction is where your sightline (zone of vision) is restricted by building line, fences, hedges, etc and you can only have a clear view until the last moment of your approach to the junction.
As you approach the T-junction, look out for road signs and markings if they exist, and use your MSPSL or hazard routine which you have learnt from previous articles. As you approach, you should be able to tell early whether the road junction is either â€˜openâ€™ or â€˜closedâ€™. Check your mirrors; signal right or left; and then position for your turn. When turning right keep to your normal safety line. When turning left take up a position just right of the centre line and remain parallel to the line as you arrive at the junction.
When approaching a T-junction your speed must be slow enough to allow you to carry out effective observation, looking for traffic in order to decide whether you can emerge safely and you should remember that traffic on the major (main) road has priority. At â€˜closedâ€™ junctions you will not be able to decide if it is safe to emerge until your eye line is level with an obstruction to the right or left on the major (main) road. During your observation, look out for cycles, motorcycles and tricycles (Keke) travelling along close to the kerb. If the junction is open enough and you can clearly see early on the approach that it is safe to emerge, generally approach in the second gear. You will need to approach most T-junctions very slowly to allow you enough time to carry out effect observation to determine whether it is safe to emerge, in which case you will require the use of first gear (even when you donâ€™t stop), especially in towns and cities.
When emerging right , if there is a vehicle approaching from your left on the major (main) road that is signalling right to turn into the road from which you are emerging, you need to be especially careful and make sure that it is turning before you emerge. The signal may have been mistakenly turned on too early.
Before emerging, look both left and right before moving into a major (main) road. You have to be very careful when turning left so that you will not put yourself into the path of any vehicle approaching from the right, for instance, the driver might be passing an obstruction and may be positioned on your intended path. As you will be crossing in front of vehicles approaching from the right, make sure you can clear their path safely before attempting to emerge. Even if you approach carefully you might still be unable to make your decision to proceed, because of your restricted view of the major (main) road due to parked cars, trees, pedestrians or other obstructions. If your view is restricted you will need to â€˜creep and peepâ€™. That is, you need to move slowly, using clutch-control, whilst carrying out observation at the same time, until you are in a position from which you see well enough to make your decision.
In next weekâ€™s article we shall be discussing approaching and emerging at crossroads, that is, turning from a major to minor road; turning from a minor road to a major road; and crossing a major road using the MSPSL or hazard 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