Before moving off you should
- use all mirrors to check the road is clear
- look round to check the blind spots (the areas you are unable to see in the mirrors)
- signal if necessary before moving out
- look round for a final check.
Move off only when it is safe to do so.Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203) Subsection: General rules (rules 159 to 161)
Once moving you should
- keep to the left, unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise. The exceptions are when you want to overtake, turn right or pass parked vehicles or pedestrians in the road
- keep well to the left on right-hand bends. This will improve your view of the road and help avoid the risk of colliding with traffic approaching from the opposite direction
- drive or ride with both hands on the wheel or handlebars where possible. This will help you to remain in full control of the vehicle at all times. You may use driver assistance systems while you are driving. Make sure you use any system according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- be aware of other road users, especially cycles and motorcycles who may be filtering through the traffic. These are more difficult to see than larger vehicles and their riders are particularly vulnerable. Give them plenty of room, especially if you are driving a long vehicle or towing a trailer. You should give way to cyclists when you are changing direction or lane – do not cut across them.
- select a lower gear before you reach a long downhill slope. This will help to control your speed
- when towing, remember the extra length will affect overtaking and manoeuvring. The extra weight will also affect the braking and acceleration.
Mirrors. All mirrors should be used effectively throughout your journey. You should
- use your mirrors frequently so that you always know what is behind and to each side of you
- use them in good time before you signal or change direction or speed
- be aware that mirrors do not cover all areas and there will be blind spots. You will need to look round and check.
Remember: Mirrors – Signal – ManoeuvreSection: Using the road (rules 159 to 203) Subsection: General rules (rules 159 to 161)
Before overtaking you should make sure
- the road is sufficiently clear ahead
- road users are not beginning to overtake you
- there is a suitable gap in front of the road user you plan to overtake.
Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should
- not get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake
- use your mirrors, signal when it is safe to do so, take a quick sideways glance if necessary into the blind spot area and then start to move out
- not assume that you can simply follow a vehicle ahead which is overtaking; there may only be enough room for one vehicle
- move quickly past the vehicle you are overtaking, once you have started to overtake. Allow plenty of room. Move back to the left as soon as you can but do not cut in
- take extra care at night and in poor visibility when it is harder to judge speed and distance
- give way to oncoming vehicles before passing parked vehicles or other obstructions on your side of the road
- only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right, and there is room to do so
- stay in your lane if traffic is moving slowly in queues. If the queue on your right is moving more slowly than you are, you may pass on the left. Cyclists may pass slower moving or stationary traffic on their right or left and should proceed with caution as the driver may not be able to see you. Be careful about doing so, particularly on the approach to junctions, and especially when deciding whether it is safe to pass lorries or other large vehicles.
- give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders and horse drawn vehicles at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211 to 215).
As a guide:
- leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph, and give them more space when overtaking at higher speeds
- pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph and allow at least 2 metres of space
- allow at least 2 metres of space and keep to a low speed when passing a pedestrian who is walking in the road (for example, where there is no pavement)
- take extra care and give more space when overtaking motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and pedestrians in bad weather (including high winds) and at night
- you should wait behind the motorcyclist, cyclist, horse rider, horse drawn vehicle or pedestrian and not overtake if it is unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances.
Remember: Mirrors – Signal – ManoeuvreSection: Using the road (rules 159 to 203) Subsection: Overtaking (rules 162 to 169)
Large vehicles. Overtaking these is more difficult. You should
- drop back. This will increase your ability to see ahead and should allow the driver of the large vehicle to see you in their mirrors. Getting too close to large vehicles, including agricultural vehicles such as a tractor with a trailer or other fixed equipment, will obscure your view of the road ahead and there may be another slow-moving vehicle in front
- make sure that you have enough room to complete your overtaking manoeuvre before committing yourself. It takes longer to pass a large vehicle. If in doubt do not overtake
- not assume you can follow a vehicle ahead which is overtaking a long vehicle. If a problem develops, they may abort overtaking and pull back in
You MUST NOT overtake
- if you would have to cross or straddle double white lines with a solid line nearest to you (but see Rule 129)
- if you would have to enter an area designed to divide traffic, if it is surrounded by a solid white line
- the nearest vehicle to a pedestrian crossing, especially when it has stopped to let pedestrians cross
- if you would have to enter a lane reserved for buses, trams or cycles during its hours of operation
- after a ‘No Overtaking’ sign and until you pass a sign cancelling the restriction.
- Road Traffic Act 1988: Section 36
- The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002: Regulations 10, 22, 23 & 24
- The Zebra, Pelican and Puffin Pedestrian Crossings Regulations and General Directions 1997: Regulations 24
DO NOT overtake if there is any doubt, or where you cannot see far enough ahead to be sure it is safe. For example, when you are approaching
- a corner or bend
- a hump bridge
- the brow of a hill.
DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example
- approaching or at a road junction on either side of the road
- where the road narrows
- when approaching a school crossing patrol
- on the approach to crossing facilities
- where a vehicle ahead is slowing to stop for a pedestrian that is crossing from a pedestrian island (see Rule 165)
- between the kerb and a bus or tram when it is at a stop
- where traffic is queuing at junctions or road works
- when you would force another road user to swerve or slow down
- at a level crossing
- when a road user is indicating right, even if you believe the signal should have been cancelled. Do not take a risk; wait for the signal to be cancelled
- stay behind if you are following a cyclist approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left. Do not cut across cyclists going ahead, including those using cycle lanes and cycle tracks (see Rule H3)
- stay behind if you are following a horse rider or horse drawn vehicle approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left. Do not cut across a horse rider or horse drawn vehicle going ahead
- when a tram is standing at a kerbside tram stop and there is no clearly marked passing lane for other traffic.
Being overtaken. If a driver is trying to overtake you, maintain a steady course and speed, slowing down if necessary to let the vehicle pass. Never obstruct drivers who wish to pass. Speeding up or driving unpredictably while someone is overtaking you is dangerous. Drop back to maintain a two-second gap if someone overtakes and pulls into the gap in front of you.Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203) Subsection: Overtaking (rules 162 to 169)
Do not hold up a long queue of traffic, especially if you are driving a large or slow-moving vehicle. Check your mirrors frequently, and if necessary, pull in where it is safe and let traffic pass.Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203) Subsection: Overtaking (rules 162 to 169)
Take extra care at junctions. You should
- watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians including powered wheelchairs/mobility scooter users as they are not always easy to see. Be aware that they may not have seen or heard you if you are approaching from behind
- give way to for pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way (see Rule H2)
- remain behind cyclists, horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and motorcyclists at junctions even if they are waiting to turn and are positioned close to the kerb
- watch out for long vehicles which may be turning at a junction ahead; they may have to use the whole width of the road to make the turn (see Rule 221)
- watch out for horse riders who may take a different line on the road from that which you would expect
- not assume, when waiting at a junction, that a vehicle coming from the right and signalling left will actually turn. Wait and make sure
- look all around before emerging. Do not cross or join a road until there is a gap large enough for you to do so safely.
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203) Subsection: Road junctions (rules 170 to 183)
You MUST stop behind the line at a junction with a ‘Stop’ sign and a solid white line across the road. Wait for a safe gap in the traffic before you move off.
- Road Traffic Act 1988: Section 36
- The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002: Regulations 10 & 16
The approach to a junction may have a ‘Give Way’ sign or a triangle marked on the road. You MUST give way to traffic on the main road when emerging from a junction with broken white lines across the road.
- Road Traffic Act 1988: Section 36
- The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002: Regulations 10(1),16(1) & 25
Dual carriageways. When crossing or turning right, first assess whether the central reservation is deep enough to protect the full length of your vehicle.
- If it is, then you should treat each half of the carriageway as a separate road. Wait in the central reservation until there is a safe gap in the traffic on the second half of the road.
- If the central reservation is too shallow for the length of your vehicle, wait until you can cross both carriageways in one go.