Crossroads come in many different sizes. A basic crossroads is formed when a minor road crosses a major road

This is not always the case and you can find traffic lights, yellow boxes and lane control markings at crossroads

Crossroads - Priority at Crossroads

The vehicles on the major road have the priority to follow the road ahead or turn as they wish. The vehicles emerging from the minor road have to give way. In these cases turning and emerging is as normal, remembering that if you emerge to the right then you give way to everybody. It is also worth bearing in mind that there is an extra road direction to keep an eye on for idiots.

At larger crossroads there may be more lanes on approach. If this is the case then the junction will usually be controlled by traffic lights.

Even with traffic lights you still have to give way to oncoming traffic that is going straight on unless your priority is controlled by directional arrows. If the arrow for your direction of travek is lit then you have total priority. This sounds too obvious I know but if you get it wrong you will not be the first by a long way.

Crossroads - Traffic lights and Yellow boxes at Crossroads

Some crossroads have traffic lights. These are the safest way of controlling crossroads because the lights decide the priority.

Yellow boxes may be found at crossroads controlled by traffic lights. They will also be found across the entrances to fire, police or ambulance stations, bus depots etcetera. They are there either as an aid to keeping the traffic flowing or to ensure that the emergency services can go about their business. Two very good reasons not to found stationary in one.

Remember the rules. You must not enter the box unless your exit in the new road is clear. The second rule is that you may not stop in a yellow box. Though this is true for yellow boxes outside fire stations etcetera, it is not true of crossroads. You may stop in a yellow box on a crossroads if you are carrying out a right turn at a junction and your exit is clear.

Crossroads - Oncoming traffic also turning right at the Crossroads

If both you and the oncoming traffic are turning right then there are two methods available. Near side to near side which is where you turn across the front of one another & offside to offside which is where you turn across the back of one another. Both methods are valid but near side to near side is the most popular. Both methods have one advantage and one disadvantage.

Nearside to Nearside means that the nearside panels of the two cars will pass each other. Putting it another way you will go across the front of each other.

The advantage of going across the front of the other vehicle is that when the road from their direction is clear of oncoming traffic you can go.

The disadvantage is that if the vehicle in front of you happens to be a bus, or anything else that you cannot see through then you are stuck where you are until you can see that it is safe to move off. If you are at traffic lights then you could move when the lights change (if you can see them), otherwise you are stuck until the other vehicle goes.

Offside to Offside is the opposite way. The drivers pass each other on the same side and turn right behind one another.

The advantage to this method is that the oncoming vehicle does not create a blind spot for you to look around

The disadvantages outweigh the advantages. If the two cars stop side by side as you would at a small crossroads then you would have to wait until both sides of the road were free from traffic so that you could both turn together.

If there is more than one car turning right from the opposite direction then the second one will create a blind spot for you to try to look around anyway.

If you are the second car in a queue of cars waiting to turn right and the people in front are using this method then you must remember to leave a gap between yourself and the car in front. If you do not then the oncoming vehicle will not be able to turn because you will be in the way.

The method that you choose may be determined by three factors.

  1. The size of the junction. If it is small you will have to go around the back of one another. If you were to attempt to go across the front then you would cut the corner in the right turn. If the junction is large enough then the nearside to nearside method is usually preferred because of its advantage in crossing the traffic.

    If the road is lightly trafficked you could try to avoid the necessity of turning right at the same time as other traffic by slowing down on approach so that they turn right before you get there. Thereby leaving the junction open for you.

  2. The position of the other vehicle wishing to turn right if it gets to the junction before you do. Even on a large crossroads with both directions turning right; if the other driver is there before you are and pulls right out onto the junction then you do not really have any choice but to use the offside to offside method.

  3. The authorities may have laid down road markings dictating which method they want used at that particular crossroads.

    If there is a solid line or an area of hatched markings on the road with an arrow on either side then they are telling you that if you are turning right at this particular junction you will stay on your own side of the markings and turn across the front of the other vehicle.

    If there are arrows on the road that point to the rear of each other then you must use the offside to offside method. Remember that if this method is used there must be a space behind the first vehicle turning right else the manoeuvre will not work because the other vehicle will not be able to turn behind them.

Crossroads - Unmarked Crossroads.

Unmarked crossroads are by definition crossroads that have no road markings or traffic signs on approach to indicate which road has the priority. The width of the roads that form the cross has no bearing and neither does the amount of parked traffic in the streets. If there is nothing to say which direction gets the priority then neither one does.

The safest way to use this type of junction is to assume that neither of the roads has priority. Simply pull up near the junction in an emerging fashion, prepared to give way to anything that is coming. Make sure that you look effectively in all directions before you move off again.

If you are involved in an accident at this type of junction then it is automatically half your fault, because if you had stopped and given way then the accident would not have happened. The same of course applies to the driver of the other vehicle.


Crossroads - Procedure for negotiating a Crossroads

On approach to the crossroads

In good time the instruction will be, "At the Crossroads I would like you to turn to the right please".

Mirrors --- In pairs, central first then the right one.

Signal --- Approximately six seconds away from the junction.

Position --- Move into a right turn position. Over by the white line without crossing it.

Speed --- Reduce gently on approach and keep both hands on the steering wheel until you know whether or not you can go. Select the appropriate gear (first or second) and turn when it is safe to do so.

Look --- Keep looking for anything that is out of the ordinary. Effective observation cannot be recommended highly enough.

Positioning on approach to the crossroads

On approach to large crossroads your position on the road can be used as a tool to tell people where you are going before you get there.

Approaching a large junction you will be given the command early enough to be able to take advantage of this idea.

Put quite simply you would perform a pair of mirror checks and move into a right turn position so early that it is too early to indicate. As the road gets progressively wider you stay by the white line and when you are close enough you redo the mirrors and signal your intention to turn.

There are three advantages to doing this. Firstly your position on the road has already told everyone that you intend to turn right. Secondly you will be moving to the right at the same time as the new lanes are opening up therefore avoiding the need for a lane change manoeuvre. Thirdly there is no possibility of anyone moving alongside you which would prevent you from turning.

Turning at the crossroads

Do not move far out onto the junction unless it is safe to do so. If you cannot see that the road ahead is clear while you are waiting do not risk the turn! Peeping and creeping is fine up to a point but if you are daft enough to move forwards into a position that you are a hazard to the oncoming traffic then you are increasing the chances of an accident.

If the crossroads is controlled by traffic lights and the front of your car is over the stop line then remember that you are committed to completing your turn. You do not want to be sitting stationary out on the crossroads when the lights change; especially at a smaller junction where you may easily be blocking the oncoming traffic. Even on a larger crossroads you could find yourself sitting on a pedestrian crossing. Definitely not a nice feeling.

When you turn you have to make sure that you do not cut the corner formed between the central line of the new road and the give way line if it is a single carriageway road. If you are turning onto a road with more than one available lane then you should turn into the lane nearest to the nearside kerb unless directed otherwise.

In the new road

Once into the new road you should straighten up and perform a full set of mirror checks to strengthen your knowledge about the location of other road users.

Trust no-one. Did the donkey behind try to overtake if you turned slightly wide? Are they trying to overtake now? Effective Observations will answer these questions.

Findley's Driving School, School of Motoring