With the increase in number of parked cars on residential roads, meeting approaching traffic is an important practical skill. Along with crossing approaching traffic, when turning right from a main road into a side road, learner drivers need to develop an ability to judge and correctly respond to these traffic situations. Skill development demands a positive driving attitude along with awareness and anticipation.

The necessary skills are;

 Observation

 Assessing what can be seen

 Making decisions

 Taking the right action

It is important to have the right attitude in terms of responsibility for actions as well as consideration for other road users. In this topic we will discuss about meeting and crossing approaching traffic, overtaking, clearances and following distances.

Meeting and crossing approaching traffic : The ability to read the road ahead accurately and make correct judgements is particularly needed when meeting traffic, such as where the road is made narrow with parked cars on either or both sides and when turning right into side roads. Always remember to ‘give way than take’. Where a residential road is made narrow by parked cards on both sides, the correct road position can be to drive over the crown of the road. Judgement of the speed and distance of approaching traffic is very crucial.

Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre (M-S-M)


Approaching traffic safely

Adequate clearance

From stationary vehicles

Other road users


Approaching traffic safely

Following distances

Thinking distance

Braking distance


traffic safely MPSL MSM

Awareness and Anticipation

The actions of


drivers & riders


Some of the faults that should be taken care of when meeting and crossing approaching traffic are;

 Not applying the MSM routine

 Not giving precedence to oncoming traffic where appropriate

 Turning right in front of approaching traffic where inappropriate

 Failing to respond properly to the likely actions of other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians

 Unnecessary signalling when passing parked vehicles

Overtaking traffic, adequate clearances and following distances: The ability to pass other traffic without danger and also leave enough room when clearing obstructions in the road, such as parked vehicles, calls for both early and accurate anticipation of all the various situations that can present themselves on the road. It is important to overtake only where it is safe to do so. Overtaking stationary or moving vehicles can be hazardous, as can be failure to keep proper clearances and following distances. Misjudgement in such situations may bring a driver into close conflict or actual collision with another driver or other road user.

The importance of having a system for overtaking (PSL-MSM which is Position Speed Look- Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre);

Mirrors - The importance of checking for traffic following closely in both interior and exterior mirrors

Position – Not being so close to the vehicle in front that the view ahead becomes restricted, but close enough so the manoeuvre will be safe.

Speed – The importance of being able to stop in the distance seen to be clear and changing down to the correct gear where necessary.

Look – The importance of continuous observation of the road well ahead and for any approaching traffic.

Signal – Using the direction indicators where necessary.

Manoeuvre – maintaining correct line for overtaking.

If you’re overtaking another vehicle, you’ll need to move to the other side of the road: because this puts you in a position where vehicles are driving towards you, you must be sure that the road ahead is clear enough for you to overtake and get back to the correct side of the road safely.

It’s really important to only overtake in a place that’s safe and legal. Never overtake

 if your view ahead is blocked

 if other drivers might not be able to see you

 if there’s too little room

 if the road narrows

 if you’re approaching a junction

 if there’s ‘dead ground’ – a dip in the road that could hide an oncoming vehicle.

The importance of following distances and maintaining clearances;

 Understanding where to steer to avoid the danger and having a collision. Having an escape route.

 Keep plenty of space from parked cars and other obstructions, such as road works.

 Correct gap from vehicles in front. Keeping the correct following distance.

 Be able to convert these distances between metric and imperial versions as well as compare the gaps with distances such as those between street lamp posts or other lighting on other types of road.


 In stationary traffic, where there is a car in front, being able to see the rear tyres and an amount of the road surface.

Some of the faults that should be taken care of when overtaking traffic, maintaining adequate clearances and following distances are;

 Not applying the PSL-MSM routine

 Driving too close to other road users or parked cars


Frequently asked questions-

1. If a vehicle is coming towards you in a road where parked cards make the road narrow, what should you do?

Keep scanning the road ahead of you to see when you might need to change your position in the road, such as when there are road works or cars parked at the side of the road. Make sure you move in good time so road users behind you can see what you’re doing and that they may need to change their position too. When you need to change your road position, use the MSM/PSL routine to check ahead of you for road users coming towards you. Check your mirrors and blind spots for vehicles behind or beside you.

Your position on the road can be affected by factors such as weather, road and traffic conditions.

Food for thought – (You should give a think to the below and discuss this with your instructor)

What is the first action you should take when you see any hazard that might make you slow down or change direction?



Contents of this lesson are taken from:

DVLA – The Official Highway Code


Adi News Magazine

LDC Driving School’s YouTube videos

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