Following on from my junctions driving lesson post, I recently received an email from a provisional licence holder who had been failed on the driving test by a DSA examiner for undue hesitation while emerging at a junction, so I'll answer the email here, as it might help other learner drivers as well.
Here is the email:
On arriving at a junction preparing to turn left, there was a queue of at least four slow moving cars approaching from the right, with many, including the first two, indicating to turn left. I waited a few moments until all vehicles had passed, believing that this is the correct course of action, since the highway code clearly states that you must not assume a car indicating to turn left will actually do so. I was surprised to learn that this caused me to fail the test, as the examiner marked it as a serious fault. He explained that as it was "very obvious" from the cars' speed that they were turning left, and that since there was a vehicle behind, that I should have pulled out and not waited.
He marked this as "undue hesitation". This is confusing for me, because over the course of my learning to drive, I've been led to believe that you should not pull out of a junction with a car approaching from the right, even if it is indicating to turn left. Both my instructor and I are very surprised to learn that this is not only allowed in a test, but that I was required to do this in order to pass. I spoke for a while afterwards with my instructor about it, and he was unable to explain why that might be considered a serious fault. The highway code appears to be very clear about this scenario, but the examiner was also very clear in explaining why he considered waiting to be the incorrect action. I'd be very grateful if you could explain to me in detail the exact rules in this situation during a test, and when it is permitted, not to mention necessary, to pull out rather than wait. Thank you very much.
Now as I wasn't present on the test, my answer will be based on my training and experience of how examiners have marked candidates on the various tests that I have sat in on.
This was a case of emerging at a junction to turn left which is slightly easier than turning right where you actually need a SAFE gap from both the LEFT and RIGHT.
As was stated, the highway code advices when at a junction you should never assume that a car indicating will turn in the direction indicated as many people do forget to cancel signals, however there are other signs/things that you need to consider when deciding if you can proceed at a junction or not.
SPEED of the approaching traffic when you arrived at the junction, position of the car (this is very important at roundabouts), direction wheels where pointing, where is the driver looking and steering? All these can add up to give you a picture of what is happening and if it will be safe for you to go or not.
Now since I wasn't there I can't say what exactly happened, but if all four cars turned left, and you still were waiting at the junction, that could have been the reason for the driving error being classified as serious. Also because you said the cars were slow moving and the 2 closest were already indicating, it might have been clear that they did intend to turn especially if the 2nd car made no attempt to overtake the turning car. Also what was the gap between the 2nd and 3rd car or the 3rd and 4th, and did these cars also indicate to turn left?
Being able to deal with junctions safely requires a lot of practice and experience and you can't always apply one rule ALL the time to every situation. Just because there is a car approaching from the right as you arrive at a give way doesn't mean you have to stop. The car could be far away, travelling slowly, so it might be safe and you can only know this with experience and many hours on the road dealing with various road users and conditions.
It is not easy to pass the UK driving test but with the right training and enough practice you will gain enough experience to be able to find the right balance between being safe and over cautious/hesitation.
I wish you the best at your next attempt with the DSA examiner.
For high quality driving lessons from a very helpful, patient and fully qualified instructor in North West London, then why not call or send me a text message on 07956233032, please leave a message if I don't answer you car, as I don't take calls while giving learner tuition.
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