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How To Master Crossroads


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Spotting crossroads

You could easily miss a crossroads. Whichever direction you approach from, your road appears to carry straight on. So you have to look out for road signs and for markings running across or to the side of the road ahead, as well as for other tell-tale signs such as a break in the line of buildings or parked cars.

The markings tell you if you are on the major or minor road and who has priority.

Road markings

Look out for the stop and give way road markings;

  • running across the road ahead of you = you’re on the minor road = stop or give way
  • running to the left and right of you = you’re on the major road = you have priority
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Road Signs

A black cross within a red triangle – one line of the cross is bolder than the other;

  • horizontal bold line = you’re on the minor road = stop or give way
  • vertical bold line = you’re on the major road = you have priority

Controlled and uncontrolled crossroads

The two types of crossroads are known as controlled and uncontrolled.

At a controlled crossroads, one road has priority over the other. The controls take the form of road markings (give way and stop lines), traffic lights, and yellow boxes.

The traffic lights and road markings show who has priority. [Note that the only time you can wait in a yellow box control is when you want to turn right into a clear road, but you are prevented from driving on by a stream of oncoming traffic. If your exit road is not clear, you cannot enter the box.

At an uncontrolled crossroads, no one has priority. Imagine what a crossroads is like when the traffic lights fail. That’s one example of an uncontrolled crossroads.

Some crossroads are permanently uncontrolled. There are no traffic lights and no road markings. You should be ultra careful at an uncontrolled crossing.


Who has priority?

  • If you are travelling straight ahead on the major road, you have priority over traffic on the minor road.
  • If you are on the minor road and wanting to travel ahead, left, or right, you must give way to traffic on the major road.
  • If you are travelling straight ahead or turning left, you have priority over traffic coming in the opposite direction that wants to turn right.
  • If you want to turn right, you must give way to traffic coming in the opposite direction that’s going straight ahead or turning left.
  • If you want to turn right, you have equal priority with traffic coming in the opposite direction that wants to turn right. Deciding how and when to make that turn can be tricky.

Here are a few ideas:

  • You can turn right in front of each other, known as nearside-to-nearside. Your vision is less good because the other vehicle is between you and oncoming traffic. Move forward with care using the peep and creep method
  • You can turn right behind each other, known as offside-to-offside. Your vision is much better because you can see the road ahead and the road you’re turning into
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Approaching from the minor road

You need to adapt the rules you learned about emerging from a minor road at a T junction. Instead of just checking to right and left in the sequence right-left-right, you should cover the road ahead.

This gives you a new sequence of checks: right-ahead-left-ahead-right. This simple sequence is the minimum you should do. As always, treat the junction with caution, and only emerge when it is safe to do so.

Approaching from the major road

Although you have priority, you must still look out for drivers coming from side roads. As you approach the crossroads, check your mirrors, ease your foot off the accelerator, and glance into the side roads to left and right. Do not miss out this procedure.

If you follow it every time, you should be able to react safely to anything unexpected.

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