ByÂ Stephen K. Dieseruvwe
Crossroads are junctions where two roads cross each other, although not necessarily at right angle to one another. Crossroads rules are similar to those of left and right turns and T-junctions. From the previous articles, the basic skills needed to deal with crossroads have been explained and you will simply be using the skills for junctions – approaching to turn right or left, emerging from junctions and the MSPSL or hazard routine to deal with crossroads.
Â It is important you learn the priorities at crossroads and how to deal with traffic safely whether you are driving on the major road or emerging from the minor road, traffic on the major road will have priority and you should give way to traffic opposite when turning left as you will be cutting across their path.
Â In Nigeria, most of the crossroads would be unmarked, so we need to deal with them as though no one has priority and be prepared to stop and give way, even if you consider that you are on the major road because other drivers might be strangers to the area, or might genuinely think that they have priority. If in doubt, always wait.
Approaching on the Major Road
When approaching crossroads on a major road, you normally have priority when going straight ahead or turning right, but you still need to check to make sure that the roads on the right and left are clear before proceeding. When turning right or left off the major road, make sure that you carry out an all around observation to ensure it is safe before proceeding, as traffic can approach from any direction.
Emerging at Crossroads – On the Minor Road
When emerging from a minor road at crossroads, you must always give priority to traffic on the major road. In this situation, the crossroads is simply an extension of a T-junction, and priority is determined in the same way as discussed in emerging at T-junctions. The difference between emerging at a T-Junction and emerging at crossroads is simply that you have to consider traffic from the extra road, that is, the road opposite and your observation would be to the left, the right and ahead. Always carry out effective observation and only proceed when you are absolutely sure it is safe to do so. When waiting to join or cross the major road and there is a vehicle on opposite road, if both drivers intend to go ahead or turn right and the major road is clear, both vehicles can proceed at the same time. If you intend to turn left and the other vehicle intends to go ahead, the driver turning left is crossing the path of the approaching vehicle, and should give priority to them. If both drivers are turning left, the procedure is explained below.
Turning Left at Crossroads
Turning left has always been hazardous and there are three options for turning left at crossroads – hold back, nearside to nearside and offside to offside. In narrow crossroads, hold back, by simply waiting for the other driver to make up his/her mind to proceed is probably the most common and safest option. Nearside to nearside simply means driving in front of the other vehicle. The term â€˜nearsideâ€™ simply refers to the side of the vehicle which is nearest to the kerb or footpath (the passenger side). This appears to be the most common method used when both drivers proceed at the same time, although this method does not give you a good view of oncoming traffic. In busy traffic and with limited space to turn, this method may have to be the choice to avoid blocking the junction. Offside to offside simply means passing behind the other vehicle and is probably the safest way to proceed because it gives you a clear view of approaching traffic. This option is mostly impracticable because our roads are not wide enough and it can cause problems when there are several cars turning at the same time.
Appropriate Lane for Going Straight Ahead from Minor Road
In this situation, you should follow the general rule of keeping to the right to go ahead at crossroads and leave the left lane clear for vehicles (traffic) wishing to turn left. If the road ahead narrows at a crossroads, you may need to position in the left lane.
In next weekâ€™s article we shall be discussing approaching roundabouts to turn right, going ahead and turn left 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