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A junction is a point at which two or more roads meet. In the UK junctions are used to control traffic, and they come in various shapes, sizes and layouts. They make up a fundamental part of the road system and you need to learn how to deal with junctions safely, as they are considered accident hotspots.
The most common driving test fault is inadequate observation at junctions. Incorrect positioning when turning right at a junction also makes the top 10 list, so you’ll be unable to pass your test if you haven’t mastered the different types of junction you’re likely to face on your driving test.
What are the different types of junctions
You will need to drive safely through a number of junctions in order to pass your driving test. The type of junctions you are likely to face depends on how built up the area is in and around your chosen driving test centre. As you learn to drive you will encounter each of the different junctions and these include;
These are junctions where a minor road joins with a major road, with the intersection forming a T shape. They are found in most urban areas and they will be marked out by either signs, road markings or a combination of the two. A key characteristic of this type of junction is that vehicles on the minor road are required to give way to vehicles on the major road.
Wide junctions with good visibility are often considered open junctions. If you can see clearly into the new road and there are no parked cars, trees or buildings restricting your view, you can enter into the new road without stopping at around 10 – 15 mph. Second gear is appropriate for such junctions, however, you still need to be mindful of your speed whenever you take a corner.
When you are unable to clearly see into the new road as you approach, you will in most cases be required to slow right down and select gear one before making the turn. Such junctions will be considered closed and the majority of junctions in built-up residential areas are likely to require you to reduce your speed before entering.
In most residential areas you will be made aware of a junction or crossroad via road markings or signage. Marked junctions can have give way road markings or stop signs indicating priority and the presence of the junction. It’s important you look ahead into the road to spot the signs or markings in good time, which will allow you to prepare for the new road without rushing.
Not all junctions have signs and markings making you aware of their presence. On residential backstreets and in rural country lanes many of the junctions are unmarked and these can be quite tricky to navigate when the roads are busy. The rules for unmarked junctions vary however in some cases, no road has priority over the other and you will need to make good judgement when emerging at an unmarked junction. Gauge the speed of approaching traffic, look out for signals from other vehicles and only enter the junction when there is a significant gap for you to do so.
Junctions that are controlled by traffic lights are known as controlled junctions. These junctions are found in busy built-up areas and they are extremely common. Some contain cycle lanes and an advanced stop line which designates a box in front of the stop line, but before the traffic light, to allow cyclists to position themselves in front of waiting traffic. Be mindful at controlled junctions and ensure you do not cross the stop line as this will result in you failing your driving test and look out for filter lights controlling traffic turning into a different road too, as you can also fail your test if your fail to move off at a green light.
Learn how to use the mirror signal manoeuvre routine when dealing with junctions, The MSM routine as it is known is considered the cornerstone of safe driving.
Yellow Box Junctions
Yellow box junctions are used to ease the flow of traffic in urban areas by preventing queuing traffic from blocking the intersection. They are marked out with yellow criss-cross hatch markings, and you’re only allowed to enter the yellow box when your exit is clear or oncoming traffic has blocked you from turning right.
When two or more minor roads join a major road, but not exactly in the same place, they form a staggered junction. If the distance between the two minor roads is large, when crossing from one to the other, you should treat the crossing as two separate manoeuvres instead of one as you would on a traditional crossroad. If the distance between the two roads is not significant, you can cross the junction in one manoeuvre, as you would on a standard crossroad.