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Left Turns

Your Driving Licence Is Waiting For You

From a major road to a minor road

When two roads meet, we call one of them major, the other minor. Traffic on the major road has priority; traffic on the minor road must give way. You can tell which is which by the road markings.

  • You’re on the minor road if the ‘give way’ road markings (a double set of
  • broken white lines) runs across the road in front of you.
  • You’re on the major road if the same ‘give way’ road markings are to the left or right of you.
  • The same road can be major at some junctions and minor at others.
  • The ‘give way’ markings show who has priority.
  • If the lines are in front of you, you must give way to traffic passing on the other side.
  • If the lines are to the left or right, you have priority over traffic on the other side of the markings.

What is a left turn?

In this section, a left turn is a turn from a major road to a minor road.


How can you tell where the junction is?

1. Road signs: red-bordered warning triangles tell you that you’re approaching a      junction
2. Road markings: you’ll see them on the left of the road ahead
3. Buildings: a gap in a row of buildings could indicate a junction
4. Parked cars: a gap in a row of parked cars could indicate a junction
5. Moving cars: cars emerging from the left could indicate a junction

Mirrors • Signal • Position • Speed • Look (MSPSL routine)

When you’ve spotted the junction at which you want to turn left, follow the MSPSL routine.


  • Look into your rear-view mirror and left side mirror (shows you what’s happening behind you and on your left side).


  • In towns, make your signalling clear. If you signal your intention to turn left too early, people may think you’re pulling over to stop. If you signal too late, other drivers won’t have time to react. Be guided by your speed. If you’re travelling at 30mph, six car lengths is about right; at 10–15mph, two car lengths is more appropriate.


  • Take a safe driving line – about 1 metre from the kerb. That gives other drivers a chance to pass on your right. It also confirms to other drivers that you intend to turn left.


  • Your speed should be neither too slow nor too fast. Adjust it by easing off the accelerator and gentle use of the foot brake.
  • If you go too fast, you’ll struggle to get round the corner – you may end up on the wrong side of the road.
  • If you go too slow, you’ll encourage other drivers to overtake you close to a junction, which could be dangerous.
  • The gear you choose depends on how much you can see into the minor road and how sharp the turn is. As a general rule, the sharper the bend, the lower the gear. Whichever gear you choose, engage the clutch at least one car length from the corner. Avoid coasting.


  • Take a final look into the left side mirror to check for cyclists.
  • Look as far as you can into the road you are about to turn into. Look for emerging traffic, obstructions, and pedestrians. If you see pedestrians, try to interpret their movements – do they look like they might cross the road?