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Driving Advice

Signal Usage

Signal Usage

As drivers, we often use signals when it isn’t actually necessary. The most basic rule drivers should remember when it comes to signalling is that drivers are meant to signal only to warn and assist fellow drivers. There are all types of road users, ranging from motor vehicle operators, cyclists, and pedestrians, so it essential for all parties to be aware of the rules and regulations of signal usage as indicated in the Highway Code.

Most motorists believe the most straightforward and general way to signal is through their indicators, even if they do so incorrectly. Furthermore, there are numerous ways to communicate intentions appropriately that actually make much more practical sense. These types of indications include: direction indicators, brake lights, flashing headlights, reverse lights, horn, and hazard warning lights.

brentwood traffic light example

Of the many ways drivers indicate incorrectly, one of the most obvious instances is through poor timing. Timing really can be everything when indicating on the roads about certain intentions, and is amazing when done in an appropriate amount of time. This allows fellow drivers the chance to have plenty of time to react to driver’s intentions in whatever way necessary. Also, this type of thinking ensures that the driver is allowing themselves plenty of time to complete their manoeuvre in a safe and effective manner. How the driver decides to signal should be very clear, so it is important to avoid signals that could be deemed confusing to other drivers. Whether the driver is passing a parked car near a junction or approaching a roundabout, drivers can become confused if the driver isn’t using the proper protocol for signalling their next move. This also includes not signalling at all.

As a driver, it is important to realise that there will be moments when other motorists give off signs they don’t intend to. Sometimes drivers may not realise they have left an indicator on or are braking for an unnecessary reason. This is why it is so essential to be fully aware of surroundings and that fellow drivers may be unintentionally misleading. When approaching situations that could be confusing, it is important to only do so after scrutinising whether a driver is intending to carry out what they’re indicating or if it is just a mistake. Always approach these situations with caution as to avoid a possible collision.

car to drive example

There are certain moments while driving where it will be a necessary to emphasise direction indicator signals and/or stop lights on the vehicle. This is easily carried out through the use of hand and arm signals, which are available in the Highway Code. Again, these signals are pointless if they are not used in an appropriate amount of time and done properly. This is when it is essential to be sure of when and what arm signals to use and that the arm signal is completely visible to other drivers. While these signals may not typically be used by motorist, drivers should remember that horse riders and cyclists will be reliant on these type of communication strategies when ever they are on the roadway.

Another important type of signal usage that many motorists are reliant on are flashing headlights. Many drivers get confused for when is the appropriate time to use their flashing lights. This is a type of signal that is regularly employed by motorist that may actually not be shown in the Highway Code. In saying this, it is important to note that flashing lights are meant to warn of the driver’s presence, and should not be used to signal that fellow motorists can safely proceed or turn. If a driver flashes their headlights at a fellow driver, it is important to recognise who the signal was intended for. It is essential to never assume anything on the motorway, and while we shouldn’t ignore this signal, it is always acceptable to properly observe the surroundings before acting. An appropriate time for drivers to use their flashing lights may be when they are on a road that is difficult to hear their horn, so it can be a good option to turn on their flashing lights or if the driver is behind someone who is unaware of their presence.

Warning other drivers may be a necessary when on the roadways. One of the best ways to do this is by using the horn. This is a great way to allow others to know of the driver’s presence. There are going to be multiple situations where the use of the horn is essential to warning fellow drivers. For example, a motorist may want to use their horn for when a person is driving forward or backward into their lane. Also, there are two worthy mentions of when horn usage has legal implications. It is actually illegal to use a horn if the driver is stationary and between the hours of 23:30 and 07:00 in a well populated area like most of Brentwood.

Roundabouts

Roundabouts

wrocaw-924451_960_720A roundabout is one of the best ways to help with traffic flow without making all the cars come to a complete stop. When approaching a roundabout, the view for the driver usually is open, meaning that they are able to look for gaps in the traffic that is going to let them approach and move on into the roundabout in a safe manner. If drivers are unaware of the rules of when engaging in a roundabout, then they may be opening themselves up to possible hazards and disrupting the general flow of traffic. Taking driving lessons with keendrivers means you will be taught all the hazards of driving and give you the skills you need to drive safely.

The fundamental rule of roundabouts is that the driver must give way to all traffic that is coming from immediate right side, because these cars are always going to have priority. It is common knowledge that the flow of traffic in a roundabout is always going to be guided by signs, travelling in one direction, with all cars going round the centre point. Of course, there are always contingencies to the basic guidelines. There are times that the traffic in the roundabout may have to give way to the vehicles that are entering, which is why it is always important to look for signage indicating ‘Give Way.’ Also, there are some roundabouts that are traffic light controlled, even at just certain times of the day, which means they can determine which vehicles are going to take priority.

Roundabout in Brentwood

Even though roundabouts are an amazing way to control traffic, they can be very hazardous if drivers are not looking ahead for warning signs that could indicate a possible hazard. Drivers must be aware of the advanced warning sign and the direction sign of the roundabout in order to have a well-defined understanding of the complexity of the junction ahead of them, as well as route directions. This means that it is extremely essential for drivers to pay close attention to the road marking signs both approaching the roundabout and while within the junction. It is important to always be courteous of drivers that may slow down to look at signage so that they can maintain a clear outlook on the direction they need to take. If the driver does not understand the direction they need to be taking on the roundabout, this could lead to them being confused, straddling lanes, and ultimately causing a collision. When a driver is accidentally in the incorrect lane, it is best that they do not change lanes at the last moment. Drivers should simply continue in the lane that they are in or go around the roundabout again in order to maintain safety.

Approaching the roundabout, the driver should always follow the MSPSL protocol (mirror, signal, position, speed, look) that should be practised at all junctions. To get through a roundabout in the safest possible way, it is essential for the driver to pay close attention to the signage and road markings leading up to the roundabout and during the junction, so they can be sure to pick the correct lane for their route. In determining this early, the driver is going to be able to understand the size of the roundabout and determine the speed and gear selection they need to approach the junction safely.

Many will say that second gear is the best gear to adjust to when approaching this junction, but really it is about what the driver sees that should influence how slow they need to go. If the traffic flow is heavy, they may need to shift down to first because they’re forced to come to a complete stop. Being selective with the gear choice is going to give the driver more control in the long run, so it is best to always be paying attention to each individual junction. Driving should be about control and while many people believe it is best not to change gears while within the roundabout, drivers may need to change gears in necessary moments to allow them ample control of their steering. Obviously, this is based on the size and when the driver is entering and exiting.

Regardless the direction the driver is going, there are always certain steps to follow. To go left, the driver must approach in the left-hand lane and keep in that lane throughout the roundabout. Whilst in the roundabout, the driver should maintain a left signal until exiting. Going ahead is a bit different. Drivers are not required to indicate on the approach, but once in the roundabout, it is courtesy to indicate with a left signal if the driver takes the first exit, just so others can know the driver’s intentions. This is when it is essential the driver thinks about their route prior to picking a lane. Overall, drivers should approach in the left hand lane, unless they are on a multi-lane road and have multiple options. It is also important to double check if the left lane is blocked by markings for the driver to continue on in this lane. On the roundabout, keep to the lane that is selected. Make sure to be checking the nearside mirror to have a grasp on the surroundings outside the vehicle. Once the driver has passed the exit just before their intended exit, they should begin to indicate left, giving other drivers the chance to know they will be going ahead. For going right, drivers will need to be in the right lane (or the marked lane) and indicate right on their approach. Drivers will stay in this lane, maintaining the right signal, until their exit approaches. Just after the exit before the one the driver intends to take, they will switch their indicator to the left so that surrounding drivers will know of their intended route.

Larger roundabouts can have more than three lanes in them. If this is the case, the driver is to use the more appropriate lane on the approach and throughout the roundabout. As far as the actual roundabout, the driver may need to move throughout the lanes earlier than was originally stated, but again, it is essential to pay attention to road markings and signage to follow the same procedures. Mini roundabouts may seem simpler than larger roundabouts, but it is important for drivers to always remember there is less space and time to consider their moves, so it is even more important they are ready to go when entering these junctions. Even more, there are certain areas that have double mini-roundabouts that should be treated separately. Remember the basics of giving way to the right and pay attention. The secret to every type of driving through this type of junction is defensive and observant driving in order to avoid collisions.

Moving Off

Moving Off

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The most normal and common procedure, moving off is something that we do very often in every trip we take in our vehicles. Ranging from the typical forward manoeuvre to moving off from more complicated angles around stationary structures, moving off can cause a lack of confidence and nervousness for any new or experienced driver. Because of the feeling of paranoia many drivers encounter, they either rush or fail to practise this manoeuvre, meaning they have the tendency to make mistakes all throughout their driving career. Given that this is a basic technique that really just requires proper protocol, practise, and a bit of confidence, moving off is a skill set that every driver really should strive to master.

When beginning all move offs, it is essential to always carry out basic safety checks of the vehicle; this means that the handbrake is engaged, the car is in neutral, and the engine is running. Start by pressing and holding in the clutch of the vehicle with the left foot. It is always advised to put the car into first gear because this is a more powerful option that will ensure the vehicle moves more efficiently. Once the car is in first gear, lightly step on and hold the accelerator with the right foot, with the heaviness of the foot pressure being contingent on outside factors like the type of road, the demand of how quickly the move off needs to be, and the accelerating power of the car. As drivers get more experience and confidence with driving, it will always be the better option that they hold the pedals of the car steady as they move off, with this being easily achieved by placing the heels of the feet on the floorboard to balance against the pedals properly. As the driver keeps inching forward, they must slowly and steadily allow the clutch to rise to the ‘biting point’ while maintaining complete stillness with the other foot. They may feel alarm as the engine noise will typically fall and the front of the car will rise up, but this is what they are after.

When it comes to moving off at an angle from behind all types of obstructions, the procedure that the driver is meant to follow is practically the same as what is previously described, but they are forced to consider what angle is best to get their car out the safest. Depending upon the distance between the driver’s car and the obstruction, it is always necessary for the driver to consider whether it is better for them to continue forward or put their car in reverse, the closeness of the other car, the oncoming traffic, and the speed at which they must accelerate to meet the same speed as the flowing traffic.

One of the most frightening techniques for drivers to master is moving off up hills because there is always the possibility they can roll backwards. It is essential that drivers learn to coordinate their pedals. While this is very similar to moving off on the level, there are two major differences: the driver will be required to accelerate more and the clutch will need to be raised slightly higher than the ‘biting point.’ When raising the clutch, it can make the car shake, but if this happens then just push the clutch back in and start over. This is the point where drivers tend to panic, but it is important to stay calm. Moving off up hills properly means at this point the driver must hold the brake still so that the vehicle can’t move forward until the driver has made sure it is safe to do so. Raise the clutch to the biting point, conduct observation checks, and lastly control the accelerating pedal with the right foot to move forward. Moving off downhill is always going to be easier because the driver has the weight of the car assisting them to go forward. The driver should be paying attention to the car so that it can’t go to quickly. The best way to achieve this is to put the clutch in entirely, place the car in the best gear for the steepness of the drive, press down the footbrake, and let the handbrake go.

Time and practise will teach all drivers what to look for, with inconsistency and rushing causing drivers to stall their car. It is always important for drivers to be aware of their surroundings, looking about them in a very regimented order. Before taking off, it is advised that drivers start by checking their left shoulder, left door mirror, forward, their interior mirror, right door mirror, and lastly their blind spot. Drivers should be on the look out for pedestrians, bikers, other vehicles, or any type of possible precaution. With every type of moving off the driver engages in daily, it is important to always consider observation and safety checks of their surroundings before committing to any moving off manoeuvre.

If you’ve found this blog post useful, but want some more information – feel free to contact us or look on the official government website for the guidelines to moving off.

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