Driving Lesson Junctions Speed Gears

In this driving lesson post, I want to address one of the most common reasons for failing the driving test, approaching and dealing with junctions.

Even if you master the driving test routes used by your local DSA centre, if you don't develop the correct habit for junctions, then it is easy once you have settled into a routine while out with the driving examiner to commit a fault which could turn out to be serious.

So lets go through the steps you should be practising during your driving lessons as you prepare for the practical car test in order to effectively and safely deal with junctions.

1. Know how to identify junctions. T-Junctions, cross roads, roundabouts and major to minor roads all have different traffic signs, characteristics and way of dealing with them.

2. Get the approach right. This part is very important. Is the junction open or closed?
With an open junction, you can see if it is safe to enter as you approach, therefore your speed will be determined by traffic, conditions and if you are stopping or going. If the junction is closed (you can't see other traffic), you SHOULD ALWAYS approach with the intention of stopping, which means on the brakes, and only changing gears once you have used LADA and it is safe to emerge, proceed. Otherwise, stop and secure the car, get the biting point and wait for it to be safe before trying to go.

3. Proceed only if it is safe. One of the reasons why people fail at junctions is because they think the examiner is going to penalise them for hesitation if they spend too much time at a junction.
The dsa examiner is an experienced driver, and can see everything going on, so the amount of time spent at a junction waiting for it to be safe is irrelevant, if the road is busy and there isn't a safe gap, WAIT. It doesn't matter if the cars behind you are getting impatient.

4. Gears are for moving away from the junction, not the approach.
During driving lessons, I find many learner drivers change gears on approach to a junction to slow the car down! The reason we change gears at junctions is to match the speed that we have slowed down to deal with the junction and be able to effectively accelerate away. So don't change gears at a junction until you have used the brakes to get to the correct speed for the type of junction.

You are not going to be able to master junctions after one lesson, it takes lot of practise, and this is where a lot of driving test candidates go wrong, as they don't have enough experience with diffent types of junctions under various conditions both light traffic, rush hour, school runs, etc.

If you require high quality driving lessons from a very helpful, patient and fully qualified instructor as you prepare for the UK driving test, then why not call or send me a text message on 07956233032.

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  1. Anonymous11:25 am

    What you say about gears i believe is wrong. It has been proven several times that the use of gears applies engine breaking to the vehicle, therefore slowing it down in a safe manner. If a candidate chooses to change down gears when slowing that does not particuarly mean they are planning to speed through the junction, but are rather selecting the appropriate gear for the revs and speed. There is no need to stay in a high gear at a low speed. There is also the saftey matter, what if they are required to accelerate quickly to avoid and accident ? Without the correct gear selected before this time then it is far less likely they will be able to avoid an accident. Finaly, what about in winter conditions ? The use of engine breaking with gears reduces the risk of skidding, this is why the government advise using engine breaking during icey or snowy conditions.

  2. Anonymous3:58 pm

    It's GEARS to GO - BRAKES to SLOW. Both hands should be on the wheel if your foot is on the brake.
    Exeptions would be 1. Down hill 2. Slippery roads 3. Changing into first just before stopping.

    Know derisivley as "overlapping" braking & changing gears at the same time is not approved of by the DSA, police & advanced driving organisations eg IAM & ROSPA.




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