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J is for...

J is for... Junctions!

What is a junction?

A junction could be considered many types of things - including;

- a T junction

- a Y junction

- a junction on a bend

- a roundabout (we'll talk more about roundabouts in another blog)

- cross roads

- unmarked junctions

- controlled junctions

- box junctions

T junction

T junctions are your typical junctions that we commonly come across, usually where we have to give way to other vehicles if we're emerging from the junction.

Junction on a bend

Junctions on bends can be a little tricky - we have to be aware that we may not be able to see clearly around the corner, and take extra caution. Look for road markings and road signs to indicate who has priority.

Typical cross roads

Cross roads can vary from cross road to cross road. Some cross roads have markings, making it clear who has priority. Some cross roads have traffic lights, making them controlled junctions. Some cross roads don't have any markings, making them unmarked junctions. Some cross roads have a yellow box in the middle, making them a box junction...

Rule 181 of the Highway Code also says this about turning right at cross roads -

When turning right at crossroads where an oncoming vehicle is also turning right, there is a choice of two methods;

- turn right side to right side (offside-offside); keep the other vehicle on your right and turn behind it. This is generally the safer method as you have a clear view of any approaching traffic when completing your turn

- left side to left side (nearside-nearside), turning in front of each other. This can block your view of oncoming vehicles, so take extra care. Cyclists and motorcyclists in particular may be hidden from your view. Road layout, markings or how the other vehicle is positioned can determine which course should be taken.

Controlled junctions (above), are often found in busier areas, and traffic lights are used to keep traffic flowing. There may also be more than one lane (therefore the left hand lane may go left and road ahead, and the right hand lane turns right only). Controlled junctions may also feature a 'filter light' which indicates that you have priority. A normal 'green' light means you can proceed if it is safe to do so - so you must priority to oncoming traffic if you're turning right. If we're at a 'normal' cross roads, the main road usually has priority - look for signs and road markings to confirm this.

Unmarked junction

Unmarked junctions can be interesting! Technically, no-one has priority, so it's essential that you slow down, be aware, make eye contact with other road users, and be sure of their intentions before turning. We may also look at the other road user's positioning and speed to help us figure out where they're intending to go.

Box junction

Box junctions are yellow hatched markings in the middle of the junction. Rule 174 of the Highway Code says - You MUST NOT enter the box until your exit road or lane is clear. However, you may enter the box and wait when you want to turn right, and are only stopped from doing so by oncoming traffic, or by other vehicles waiting to turn right. At signalled roundabouts you MUST NOT enter the box unless you can cross over it completely without stopping.

Road markings & road signs

Different road markings

The most common road markings surrounding a typical junction would be a give way line, or a stop line. The centre line may also change to a hazard line. This is where the centre line becomes longer, and warns you of a hazard ahead, such as a junction, slip road, roundabout, sharp corner, etc. Have a look at the pictures and see the difference between a normal centre line, and a hazard line.

Different road signs - can you identify them?

You may also find different signs surrounding junctions. These could be give way signs, STOP signs, warning signs (warning you of the type of junction coming up) etc. Have a look at some of the examples pictured here. Some signs have a 'thicker' line - this indicates the main road and therefore who has priority.

Road signs & markings help us identify a junction. We may also look for gaps in houses, gaps in rows of parked cars, and other cars pulling in/out of the junction.

How do we deal with a typical junction?

Closed/blind junctions

A closed/blind junction means we're unable to see clearly what is on the main road that we're trying to emerge onto. It could be that the angle of the junction makes it difficult to see, or that houses, trees, or other 'street furniture' is getting in our way. This may mean we have to take extra precautions and creep out carefully at the junction, to get the best view of the road before emerging fully onto the main road.

Open junctions

Where a junction is open - meaning we can see clearly what is coming both ways as we approach the junction - we may not have to stop (unless there is a STOP sign). We could look nice and early, plan ahead, bring our speed down, choose an appropriate gear, and drive out of the junction safely.


Many instructors use MSPSL to help students understand what we need to do on the approach to a junction, and how to deal with junctions safely. The MSPSL routine works for approaching any junction, roundabout or hazard. It's a good routine to remember, but it's important to understand why we're doing each step, and why it's important.