A Driving Instructor's Blog

ADI

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I originally wrote this in 2011, and updated it in 2013, then again in 2021.


There seems to be a lot of confusion over how to turn right at crossroads when another vehicle is turning right from the opposite direction.

Driving: The Essential Skills (TES) – that’s the official DSA guide to driving – says the following:

Turning right when an oncoming vehicle is also turning right

When two vehicles approaching from opposite directions both want to turn right, there are two methods that can be used. Either method is acceptable, but will usually be determined by

  • the layout of the crossroads
  • what course the other driver decides to take
  • road markings

Turning offside to offside

The advantage of this method is that both can see oncoming traffic.

In congested traffic conditions, leave a space for approaching traffic to turn right.

Turning nearside to nearside

This method is less safe because the view of oncoming vehicles isn’t clear. Watch out for oncoming traffic hidden by larger vehicles. Motorcyclists and cyclists are particularly vulnerable, as they would be hidden by any type of vehicle.

Be ready to stop for oncoming vehicles.

Police control or road markings sometimes make this method compulsory.

Defensive driving

Try to make eye contact with the driver of the approaching vehicle to determine which course is best. Your speed should allow you to stop if the other driver pulls out across your path.

What is the difference between nearside to nearside and offside to offside turning? Well, the nearside of the car is the one nearest the kerb, and the offside is the one farthest away from the kerb (the driver’s side). So, the two methods look like this:Crossroads - Turning Right

With offside to offside turning, the two cars go round the back of each other (with their offsides closest). As a result, both can see clearly down the road and both can see if it’s clear to turn or not.

Nearside to nearside turning (with their nearsides closest) creates a large blind spot (coloured purple here), the size of which is governed by the size and proximity of the other vehicle. You cannot see easily down the length of the road, and neither can the driver of the other vehicle.

As TES says, either method is perfectly acceptable.

Another thing to remember is that every junction is different and rarely will you find one that corresponds exactly with the schematic layout I’ve shown above.Crossroads in Mapperley

Let’s look at some real examples. The junction above is in Mapperley, Nottingham. It has clear road markings to guide drivers offside to offside – but since the junction is staggered, offside to offside is what any decent driver would want to do  anyway.Crossroads in Ruddington

This one is in Ruddington, Nottingham. It is marked for nearside to nearside turning because the volume of traffic turning right from both side roads would cause gridlock if people attempted offside to offside. Crossroads in West Bridgford

Finally, this example is from West Bridgford, Nottingham. When turning right from the main road, offside to offside appears to be the best option. In reality, there isn’t enough space and what usually happens is that oncoming traffic either steals the priority and turns in front of you – in which case you just hang back and let them get on with it – or it flashes its lights and you take priority (after making sure they flashed at you, and not one of the vehicles waiting in the side roads), and turn in front of it.  This is simply the kind of thing you have to learn to deal with.

This is an important learning point: learn from roads you drive on regularly, and modify your behaviour accordingly. If you’re unsure about being able to turn, hang back and give way – then the problem usually goes away!

If you’re turning right from either of the side roads in these examples, and someone is doing the same opposite you, who has right of way? Officially, no one does, and the main road is too narrow for either offside to offside or nearside to nearside turning. Some people out there (including some ADIs) would have you and the other driver sit looking at each other until you both keel over from exhaustion. In the real world – if eye contact doesn’t achieve anything – someone will either just force their way out (and the problem goes away) or flash their lights to tell you to go. The unwritten rule tends to be whoever gets there first is given right of way – but you can’t assume that under any circumstances, since there are plenty of arrogant drivers who will do their level best to go whether you’re there or not.

Remember that the Highway Code says you shouldn’t beckon other drivers and road users. It doesn’t say you shouldn’t communicate with them. It mentions eye contact… but what then? Smile? Wink? Nod your head? A simple hand gesture with a flat palm, as if to say “well, what would you like to do?” is NOT beckoning.

What happens when both cars are turning right at crossroads?

Neither car has priority. The options available to you are to turn nearside-to-nearside or offside-to-offside, as explained above. However, in some cases there will be insufficient room for both cars to go at the same time and priority has to be given (not taken).

When you reach the junction, make eye contact with the other driver. It isn’t a contest, so be prepared to give way – you haven’t lost anything by waiting for a few seconds while he gets out of the way. Obviously, if he gives way to you sing some sort of signal then you should check that it’s safe and proceed.

Can you flash your headlights?

Some people out there will be having kittens at reading this, but many other drivers WILL flash their headlights to tell you they are giving way. It’s your responsibility to check there is no traffic coming from your right or left (or from ahead), and that they’re flashing at you, but you can then proceed. If someone is giving you a reasonably clear signal that they’re giving priority to you, only a fool would ignore it. And you don’t have to stretch your imagination very far to work out how this could cut both ways.

Can you wave people through?

Holding your palms out and shrugging as if to say “well, what are you going to do?” is not the same as waving madly to beckon people out. I certainly wouldn’t do the latter, but the former is perfectly acceptable. In most cases, you won’t have to worry, though. The majority of drivers are generally quite arrogant and will try to take the advantage anyway, and that sorts out the problem for you. Even a small hesitation on your part is often signal enough for them to go.

But should you do this on your test?

The short answer is no, don’t flash your headlights or gesture to people on your test. As a learner/new driver you may not be very good at it and it could easily go wrong. However, it is possible that a situation could arise where the only sensible thing to do is to flash your headlights or gesture to someone – even to beckon them.

You have to assess, be confident… and be safe.

Pupils don’t understand what offside and nearside mean.

Then educate them! It’s what they’re paying you for.

Offside to offside turning is stupid – people don’t do it.

No it isn’t, and yes they do. Sometimes it is the best option. Sometimes it is road marked that you should do it. If people don’t do it when it is clearly the best (or the marked) option then they are the stupid ones. As TES says: either method is acceptable.

Marked crossroads are invariably nearside-to-nearside anyway.

No they aren’t! Just because you’ve never seen one doesn’t mean they don’t exist. There are at least two in Nottingham which are included in test routes.

This comment was picked up from a forum which was visiting this article at the time it was originally published, and it is simply untrue. As I’ve made clear, either method is acceptable and which one you use depends on:

  • the junction involved
  • road markings
  • road layout (i.e. is it symmetrical or slightly skewed/staggered?)
  • the time of day (i.e. how busy is it?)
  • what other road users are doing (rightly or wrongly)

Offside to offside is unquestionably the safest method wherever it is possible to use it. Blindly trying to do nearside to nearside without understanding what you’re doing often means cutting corners, forcing others to stop or slow down, and taking needless risks. It points to ignorance of road rules and poor attitude.

Why should you check your mirrors when turning right?

One word: cyclists!

You ought to do a quick shoulder check, as well, just to be on the safe side. Trust me, not that long ago I saw a cyclist race up to a car which was turning right into Netherfield near the Colwick test centre, and turn right on his offside just as the car moved off. I’ve also seen them go round the nearside and do it.

To be fair, it isn’t just cyclists (though it is mainly them who are the problem). Motorcyclists (especially mopeds, which are just powered bicycles when you consider the idiots who usually ride them) will do it, and I’ve even had a van overtake (on the offside) when turning into a side road (I reported him to the police).

Who has priority at crossroads?

The short answer is no one does. That’s because you can never be completely certain what others are going to do, so even if there was a rule which said you had priority, and no matter how many road markings there are, there are far too many people out there who simply wouldn’t follow that rule.

However, as a general rule for yourself, assume that if you are going to cross the path of anyone else, then you don’t have any sort of ‘priority’. In other words, if you are turning right at a crossroads, and someone on the opposite side wants to turn to their left or go straight ahead (and they might not be signalling even if they’re going left or right), don’t take any risks and just let them get on with it.

Make eye contact with the other driver. They may indicate with a gesture that they are allowing you to have priority – priority can be given, but never taken or assumed.

Driving: The Essential Skills (TES) says:

  • if you’re turning right and the other vehicle is going ahead or turning left, you should normally wait for the other vehicle to clear the junction before you make your turn. Otherwise, you’d be cutting across their path

People come up with all sorts of ‘what if’ scenarios for this situation, but the simple answer is not to take risks, and not to assume other people are good drivers. For the sake of a few seconds, it is a minor inconvenience at most. Just give them priority (or let them assume they have it). That way, you are driving defensively even if they aren’t.

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I had a very eventful weekend.

On Friday, the fuel panic-buying started. I’d noticed queues throughout the day, and I knew it wasn’t going to just blow over anytime soon. My main concern was having fuel for Monday, when I have a pupil on test. I’d already started thinking of cancelling weekend lessons if need be to make sure I could do it. By the end of Friday, I had over half a tank, but I knew it wouldn’t last the weekend and cover Monday’s test.

I get my fuel from Asda, but on arriving well after 9pm Friday evening, and after joining the small queue to the 24 hour pumps, it became clear that they were all locked up because Asda was out of fuel. So I nipped to the nearby Esso garage which had also had queues all day, and it was also closed early because it was out of fuel. I then took a long shot and nipped to a local village outside of the city and managed to fill up there (though they appeared to be short of diesel, and people were queuing).

I was still concerned about the Monday test, though. A tank of petrol would not last much beyond Saturday and Sunday with all the lessons I had scheduled. But on my way to my first lesson on Saturday, events took over. I got two texts in quick succession from pupils cancelling because they had something else on (translation: the Detonate festival was on yesterday, and they were going to that), one from someone’s mother informing me they were waiting for the results of a PCR test, and one from another who had a lesson Sunday and thought that Saturday was Sunday, then realised, and didn’t cancel after all. No problem, that would save me some fuel. Then I got stuck in stationary traffic half way along Wilford Lane, which meant there was no way I was going to get to my pupil on time, and which would then impact the second. I called him and explained, and we decided to stick with the one he had booked Sunday (he normally does both days). I turned around, and then immediately got stuck in stationary traffic going the other way, because there had been a crash on Clifton Bridge yet again in the roadworks. Once I got home, I loaded up Google Maps and watched the traffic movement – it was effectively stationary within 2 miles of the bridge, and remained so until the point where I would not be able to get to my next pupil, either. I contacted her and explained, and we decided to stick with Sunday this week (she also does two lessons week). All in all, Saturday went from four lessons to a day off. But at least I knew I’d have fuel for Monday’s test now.

Sunday dawned. My first pupil lives near the city centre, and I checked Google as I usually do before setting off, and noticed that 90% of the city/ring road side was closed – because of the damned marathon. So I went the long way round to his house and came in from the non-marathon side, which took 50 minutes instead of the usual 20. We drove off from his house, with a destination in mind for the lesson, and immediately encountered a police roadblock due to an accident. We turned around with another route now in mind, and as soon as we got to Mapperley we were met with almost stationary traffic.

The marathon causes this problem every year at the best of times, since people have to find alternate routes to wherever they want to be, which increases the traffic volume everywhere else. But this time it was made much, much worse by dozens of twats queuing for fuel at the Co-op garage on Woodborough Road. The video is a time-lapse, and covers about 15 minutes of real time.

You can’t see it in the video, but a bus was bouncing up and down as it had to go over a bollard kerb to get past. The twats who had filled up then decided that instead of leaving the garage by the rear exit, and having to wait for 30 seconds at the traffic lights on Woodthorpe Drive, they would leave by the Woodborough Road exit and turn right across the gridlocked traffic approaching on both sides, thus creating even worse hold ups. That was why the ‘lane’ we were in was stationary for so long when it ought to have been free moving.

Once we got by, the lesson continued to be eventful. We had to stop for an otter in Stoke Bardolph and then, as we waited to turn left on to Nottingham Road in Burton Joyce, we watched a woman on horseback with two children (one on a pony, and one leading a pony) nearly get killed because the horse was bucking and she nearly fell off.

The last leg of the journey was marked only by people driving straight into then out of the garage on the Gedling end of Carlton Hill (because it had no fuel), and to squeeze through the orange cones on the entrance to the one just after Porchester Road to see if the obvious unavailability of any fuel was true and actually applied to them, too. Oh, and my pupil nearly colliding with his mother as she drove away from their house rather too quickly on a blind bend with parked cars on both sides.

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Can you believe this one? It happened today on a lesson. We’d just driven through Bestwood Village and were heading towards Bulwell.

We stopped at the traffic lights at the junction with Hucknall Road, and it was tipping down with rain. Then, a motor hearse drove through the junction just before the lights changed to red. I was just commenting that the day was already depressing enough, when it was followed by a horse-drawn hearse, which went through the the lights when they were probably on red. Then, a second horse-drawn hearse went through – and the lights were definitely on red this time, since ours were now green.

But what happened next was unbelievable. The hearses were being followed by a large convoy of mourners, and they proceeded to go through the lights while they were on red. The blue car in front of us pulled out when our lights turned to green, but then, one of the convoy went through red lights in the other lane to deliberately stop anyone from turning. The blue car blocked the junction, through no fault of his own, and had to reverse back when the assholes on the other side – who could see clearly what had happened – started sounding their horns at him when the lights changed again their side.

The convoy continued, and even after our lights went green again, they still continued through the red! They were all driving with their hazard lights on, so any signals were absent, of course.

Once we turned off Moor Bridge, I told my pupil to stay left, because there was no way we were going the same way that they were (they were either heading for High Wood Cemetery or Bramcote Crematorium). But even then, another one of them deliberately moved into the left hand lane to stop anyone passing.

And when we got to the junction with the A6002 – where they were all going – a white Volkswagen Golf GTi was blocking the junction again so that the convoy could proceed unimpeded!

Nottingham Police still do not accept dashcam footage unless you send them the SD card by carrier pigeon (and at £80 a pop, they can stuff that), but just in case they fancy getting off their fat arses and following any of this up, the registration numbers and vehicle details of some of these twats were as follows:

SP60 ULH – Silver SEAT Altea

GN63 GXX – White Audi A1 Sport

BL06 OCO – Black Lexus IS 220D

DE04 LGK – Silver BMW 320D

YG20 KFT – White BMW 118D M Sport

OY17 XOS – Grey Audi Q3 SE TDi

CE66 COH – White BMW X5 XDrive 40D

FH68 CYJ – Grey Volkswagen Tiguan SEL TDi (this one blocked the left hand lane for a while)

KN53 JVG – Black Ford Fiesta (this was the twat who blocked Moor Bridge to start with)

BJ06 AUL – Grey Renault Megane

CH08 LAN – Blue Maserati Levante D V6

SA17 ULU – Grey Vauxhall Corsa SRi Ecoflex

RF66 WHT – White Volkswagen Golf GTi (this one was illegally blocking the A6002 junction)

These are just the ones I passed – cleverly having their hazard lights on to identify themselves on camera. At least nineteen of them went through illegally in the initial convoy, plus the two horse-drawn hearses. Some were complete pimpmobiles.

Funeral processions obviously happen. But funerals are also personal – and there is no way they should be inflicted on anyone else, and especially not like this. Standard protocol (unless you’re a complete prat) is that you drive normally to the gates of the cemetery, then you can do the solemn stuff once you’re off the road and not inconveniencing the rest of the world. You do not – unless you are one of the aforementioned prats (which these clearly were) – do what happened here.

Those involved in this pathetic show probably had numerous offences against their names already. If the police get to see this, they might get a few more. And deservedly so. It was a show of utter arrogance, created danger and inconvenience for everyone else – and all because they wanted to show some stupid clannish affinity with someone had died.

But they were just stupid pillocks.

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This one happened a couple of weeks ago. I was on my way to a lesson, and turned into Mabel Grove in West Bridgford.

Mabel Grove is a narrow road, and only one car can pass each way at the best of times. So when I take my pupils down it, I always make sure they understand the importance of checking down the road before they turn in.

I immediately saw a van was blocking the road completely. It turned out he was making a delivery to a house that is being refurbished (probably a student HMO). I didn’t know that – I assumed it was a courier dropping off a parcel – so I turned in and parked so he could move away again once he’d finished.

As it happened, the van was making a delivery of building materials. Ironically, there was space either side for him to park, but the driver (‘boss’) was the SIlverback Mountain Gorilla type of tosser, and he chose to just stop and block the road, with no thought for anyone else. He was accompanied by an apprentice or trainee tosser, who walked slowly after each package of material was delivered to collect another, whilst glancing up and down the road at the tailback he and his mate were causing.

The house owner (or landlord) would have been completely aware of the delivery, and should have cleared their driveway to make things even easier. But they didn’t.

They had a full van of building materials, and they took their time. I stress, while blocking a significant through route.

In the video, once I’ve stopped, I’ve switched to time lapse. It took them a full ten minutes to finish, and another five minutes for the queues to clear. They did not hurry one bit, and it was all coolly calculated to be inconvenient – especially after I got out after five minutes and told the apprentice tosser they were just taking the piss (which they were).

They worked deliberately slowly. The apprentice tosser looked at the traffic each time he slowly – very slowly –  walked to and from the van, clearly highly impressed with the arrogance he and his Silverback Mountain senior were exhibiting. People were getting out of cars to remonstrate and take photos.

Once they’d finally done, they calmly and deliberately sparked up to hold things up a little longer (and after the apprentice tosser had told his Silverback Mountain senior what I had said), and waited a little longer before moving away. No hurry, just deliberate stupidity.

There are some very, very sad creatures who are classed as human in this world. These were two such.

The van was a Peugeot Boxer 335, registration number CK17 WPN. The two occupants were registered at Twycross Zoo as exhibits in the monkey cages.

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Last week, I was going to a lesson in Clifton and caught this near miss on my dashcam.

When you consider what the blue car was, and the speed he shot off at across the mini-roundabouts once the taxi turned off, the FedEx driver was nearly involved in a very unpleasant situation.

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Another recent one, this time on the A453 near Clifton.

My pupil was travelling at the speed limit (in fact, I’d told him to watch his speed as the GPS nudged 41mph). Then this van sped past, and flew across three lanes in those weather conditions. It was a silver Vauxhall Vivaro 2900 Sportiv, registration number FE65 LYG. Since we were doing 40mph, what does it look like he was doing?

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This happened recently on the Priory Roundabout in Bramcote. The twat in question was driving a blue Mercedes GLE 450 AMG, registration number LN20 KYS.

Note that they used the right-turn only lane, and then cut in. It was completely deliberate, because as the title says, they are an arrogant tosser (as well as an awful driver, and probably known to the police).

Makes my blood boil, it does!

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COVID imageThere is going to be a fifth SEISS grant. A couple of weeks ago, HMRC sent out an email explaining how it would work this time.

Bear in mind that the SEISS is not – absolutely not – just for driving instructors. That important distinction makes how you interpret the email rather important.

The email makes it clear that the fifth SEISS will be granted depending on how much your 2020/21 turnover has reduced compared to previously. It also makes it crystal clear that you do not have to have submitted a return for 2020/21 (not due until the end of January 2022 at the latest) in order to make a claim.

It states clearly that your 2020/21 turnover needs to have been reduced compared to previous years in order to be eligible for the grant. If you haven’t yet submitted your 2020/21 return, an honest estimate is acceptable, and HMRC will determine how much you get based on the difference between 20201/21 and the previous year(s). Just be aware that your ‘honest estimate’ for 2020/21 is inevitably going to be what you eventually do submit, so be careful if lying comes naturally to you.

HMRC website makes it clear that if you are down by 30% or more, you will get 80% of three months’ trading profits (maximum £7,500), and if you’re down by less than 30% then it will be 30% of three months’ trading profits (maximum £2,850). This is because – as I mentioned – the SEISS is not just for driving instructors. It’s for plumbers, electricians, cleaners, nail bar owners, and all kinds of other self-employed people, etc., as well as instructors. Some of those will have legitimately traded while, ADIs ought not to have been.

I am confident that having only worked for about six weeks at a very reduced rate last summer, I will be eligible for the higher award. My turnover was down by more than 90%. However, if I’d pretended everyone was a ‘key worker’ and crammed in a lot of work I really shouldn’t have been doing last year (whilst claiming ‘hoax’, and boasting about not wearing a mask), then I’d have been at the lower rate – if I was eligible at all. If anyone out there did that, then I wish them well in their dilemma over what to do next – and I’d love to be a fly on the wall watching them complete their 2020/21 self assessment.

But for me, I have no such dilemma. My reduced workload is absolutely transparent. I typically do around 1,100 hours of lesson in a year, but in 2020/21 it was down to about 70 hours – a 95% reduction. And all as a result of following advice, taking this seriously, and not trying to be a smart ass.

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A downward trendAll was going well. Then, last Monday, a pupil texted me to say he’d had to go into isolation because someone had tested positive at work. He actually had COVID last year. Then, the following day, I gave a lesson to a pupil who had been to watch one of the Euro 2021 matches at a pub with work colleagues (in spite of my warnings about the risk). He tested negative for the next three days, then last Friday informed me he was now positive.

I shit myself, and have been frantically doing lateral flow tests everyday since. He is unwell with it, and he’s now informed me his missus is also COVID positive.

Then, last Saturday I turned up to a lesson and the pupil didn’t come out as he usually does. I texted, and he immediately replied he’d just found out a family member was positive, and the whole family had to isolate. The same day, another pupil who I was planning on visiting to help with her theory test texted me to say she’s had to cancel the test because her year has been sent into isolation at school because someone tested positive.

Then, yesterday, a pupil who had a lesson booked for tomorrow texted me to tell me he’s tested positive. He questioned why I said next week’s lesson would be off, too (he didn’t have a clue about quarantine periods, and the timeline prognosis if symptoms develop). Also, the first pupil contacted me to inform me that his last day of quarantine is the same day of his driving test this coming week (which was a moved test anyway, since he had COVID last year when it was originally scheduled for), so we’ve had to cancel it again, and unless we find another cancellation somewhere, he’ll have to do his theory test again, because the nearest dates are the end of December.

And finally, I turned up for a lesson today. I’d just stopped outside the house when the phone rang, and he told me he’d been pinged by the NHS app and had to isolate (and he had another lesson tomorrow). Yet more confusion, because he said it’s ‘two days’, and apart from the fact I wasn’t aware of anything under ten days being a quarantine period, there’s no way he’s getting in my car unless I’m sure he’s negative.

And to add insult to injury, two more cancelled lessons for today claiming feeling unwell. Funny how the nice weather does that to people (it always has done, so I’m wise to it) – but now I can’t take the chance and pick them up over it, any more than I can moan at them not telling me sooner (though the two who did that say they’d only just found out).

So the old diary has taken a beating for the next week.

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