Good Driver Foot Control Hand Control The Driving Mirror
Beginning to Drive Corner & Junctions Emerging at Junctions Manceovring
  Making Things a Little Easier Good Driving Tips

Corner and Junctions


Steering :

The purpose of the steering wheel is to turn the front wheels so that the car follows a curved course. It is equally obvious that the more you turn the steering wheel, the sharper the curve.


If this is all so obvious, why have we mentioned it? To give us a chance to say that different cars steer differently. You may have heard the terms 'under steer' and 'over steer'. Though, a description of the causes and effects of these differences is insignificant here, it is important to know the feel and behaviour of your car while cornering. Not all cars are alike in this respect. Remember that different loads, speeds and tyre pressures will also affect the steering.

Acceleration :

The dictionary defines 'acceleration' as 'making quicker' or 'increased speed of motion'. But the accelerator doesn't only speed up the engine when necessary, but it also does the equally important job of keeping up the engine speed at the level you want. The right engine speed is particularly important when it comes to cornering. Your correct speed at a corner will depend on how sharp the corner is, whether there is other traffic about and so on. There cannot be any hard and fast rules about this. You will have to judge for yourself both the proper speed for taking each corner and the gear, which is low enough for that speed.


Some things are certain. First, that your road speed should be at its lowest at the moment you begin to turn the corner. From then on, your car should be 'under acceleration'. This does not mean, as the dictionary definition suggests, that you should be going faster as you turn. It means that you should use the accelerator so that the engine is doing just enough work to be driving the car around the corner. In other words, the engine should be just under load. - The lower the gear you use, the more control you will have just where you need it most.


Another certainty is that using the accelerator too much on a corner is not only bad driving, but also dangerous. It can make tyres lose their grip on the road and so cause a skid. So, 'not too little, not too much'. The important thing is to know just how your car will behave and to realise that different cars handle differently.


There are, of course, many kinds of corners. The first and in some ways the simplest is where no roads join, but the road itself turns, more or less sharply. The second sort of corner is where one or more roads meet, in other words, a road junction. The principles of steering and acceleration apply in both the cases, as well as observation, anticipation, the use of signals, gears and brakes, road positioning and lane discipline, as discussed in Chapter 5.

Bends :

Before dealing with junctions, let us look at bends. This is where the road changes direction, but without the complication of other roads joining it. Some bends are so sharp that they might just as well be described as corners and of course, a bend could become a corner to a driver who approaches it too fast.

Left-hand bends :

Keep well to the left. Reduce speed as your view will be restricted. Ask yourself: 'What will I do if a vehicle is broken down just round the bend out of sight?' Another thought is: 'Suppose someone coming the other way is crazy enough to overtake!' You can increase your vision by approaching the bend from the centre of the road, but you will be closer to any approaching traffic and this means less safety margin. Finally, unless  very careful use is made of the mirror, you may mislead or cause inconvenience to the following traffic. So, keep well to the left, slowing down as necessary.

Right-hand bends :

A position well to the left will give you the greatest field of view into a right hand bend. But don't get tempted to enter the bend too fast. On some right hand bends, the camber may tend to tip you towards the right side of the road. This will make the bend harder to turn than you expect. It is too late to find this out when you are in the middle of a bend and your brakes can't help you.

Speed on bends :

Your speed should be lowest as you start to take the bend. Then, with your car under acceleration (the engine just pulling), you will have stability and full control. Your  passengers will also feel safer and more comfortable.

Junctions :

For the rest of this chapter, we shall be talking about approaching junctions, a much more complicated business than the corners and bends we have discussed so far,  although, the same principles of steering and acceleration apply.


Junctions take many forms. Most necessitate some change of direction, if only for proper positioning. The more complex the junction, the more changes of course or direction, you will have to consider and if necessary, make. For example, turning to the left at a junction will almost certainly be simpler than turning to the right.


The possible layout of junctions can vary from a simple T in a village street in Fig to a complex road system. Between these two extremes, lie a great variety of 'Y' junctions, neat foursquare crossroads, roundabouts of varying sizes and shapes and the  staggered or offset junctions where drivers must feel their way.


Fig. 9: A Complex Junction


Advance information :

As with any other traffic situation, the good driver finds out as much as he can about the junction before he actually reaches it. When you sight a junction ahead the first thing to  do is to use your mirror. Then weigh up the kind of situation you are approaching and note any signs and/or road markings. This will give you all the advance information about the junction, what sort it is, and about the position and course you should take to go through it correctly and safely.

Application of safe routine (MSM) :

Dealing with junctions is very largely a matter of turning corners or steering round bends. And even if you are going straight ahead, a junction is a hazard and you need to  take the same precautions. The MSM routine (mirror - signal - manoeuvre) should be used for all junctions, from whatever direction you are entering them. So, when you are sure what sort of junction it is and know what you need to do, use the mirror again, signal (if necessary) and follow the manoeuvre itself.

The junction routine (PSL) :

We have just mentioned the MSM routine: there is another, which must be applied when you move from one road to another through any sort of junction. It is PSL - position, speed, look. In detail, the drill when approaching a junction is:


Take up position.
Adjust speed (by brakes and/or gears).

Look right, left and right again when you reach a point from which you can see whether there is anything in the other roads and stop if necessary.

Assessing a junction :

This means answering a number of questions about it. Here are some, not necessarily in order of importance, which have to be answered for almost any junction:


What sort of junction is it - crossroad, T junction, roundabout, or some other arrangement of roads ?
'Do I need to change my position in order to deal with it ?'
'Are there any traffic signals ?'
'Is there a STOP sign on my approach road, or on any of the other roads?'
'Is there a GIVE WAY sign? If not, where are the GIVE WAY lines?'
'Which seems to be the busiest road?'

'Is it obvious that I ought to stop anyway, or do I go forward until I can see whether or not to stop?'


Dealing with crossroads can be quite complicated. All the junctions shown in Fig, for example, are different, but drivers who know them  well might regard nearly all of them as crossroads. Yet, at many of them, a stranger will have to weigh up which is the main traffic  stream and so 'feel his way'. And as we have seen, the main traffic stream may vary from day to day or even from hour to hour.


Fig. 10: Pattern of various kinds of Junctions

Summary :

The importance of getting to know how your car behaves in steering round a corner.

Judging the right gear and road speed at corners.
Cornering 'under acceleration' - not too little, not too much.
Keeping well to the left in both left-hand and right-hand bends.
Speed at bends

Approaching a junction - the need for advance information; the particular importance of the mirror - signal - manoeuvre and position - speed - look routines.

Assessing a junction - the questions to ask yourself
More about the mirror - signal - manoeuvre and position - speed - look routines.