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Navigating encounters with other vehicles on the roads: Understanding priority and safe practices

Meeting other vehicles on narrow or crowded roads is a common scenario that requires a good understanding of priority rules and the application of safe driving practices. Whilst on your driving lessons with BookInstructor, you will spend a lot of your time meeting traffic, having to give way and take priority in a variety of situations as you prepare for your practical driving test. This detailed guide will cover essential aspects of this situation, including the MSPSL routine, making observations, and understanding who has the right of way.

Implementing the MSPSL Routine

  1. Mirrors: Consistently check your mirrors to gauge the position and speed of vehicles around you.
  2. Signal: If you plan to change direction or position, signal in advance to inform other drivers.
  3. Position: Keep to the correct side of the road, adjusting your position early in response to oncoming traffic or parked cars.
  4. Speed: Modulate your speed according to the road conditions and the traffic situation.
  5. Look: Constantly look ahead for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and potential hazards.

Assessing and Responding to Traffic Situations

  • Look Well Ahead for Oncoming Traffic: Early identification of oncoming vehicles allows more time to react and plan your course.
  • Assess the Gap: Determine if the space is sufficient for two vehicles to pass each other safely. If it’s too narrow, one vehicle will need to give way.
  • Anticipate Other Drivers’ Actions: Predict possible actions of other drivers and be ready to react appropriately.
  • Give Way If Necessary: If you’re closer to an obstruction, such as parked cars, and the oncoming vehicle has less room to maneuver, it’s often safer and courteous to give way.
  • Look for Gaps Between Parked Cars: These gaps can serve as waiting spots if you need to give way to oncoming traffic.
  • Hold Back Position: This involves positioning your vehicle in a safe, visible spot, allowing oncoming traffic to pass. A good hold back position is where you do not obstruct the road and have a clear view of the oncoming traffic.

Critical Observations and Priority Rules

  • Who Has Priority: Usually, the vehicle closer to the obstruction should give way. However, this is not a strict rule and often depends on the specific situation.
  • Is the Other Driver Giving Way: Look for signs that the other driver is preparing to stop or yield.
  • Watch for People in Parked Cars: Doors may open, or vehicles might pull out suddenly.
  • Be Aware of Pedestrians Near Parked Cars: They might step onto the road unexpectedly.
  • Cyclists in Narrow Gaps: Cyclists can appear suddenly, so be vigilant in areas with narrow gaps.
  • Don’t Assume Priority: Even if technically you have the right of way, be prepared to stop or yield. The priority on the road can change rapidly, and safety should always come first.


Navigating encounters with other vehicles on UK roads requires a blend of adherence to traffic rules and a high degree of situational awareness. Remember, the goal is not just to follow the rules, but to ensure safety for all road users. The ability to anticipate, observe, and react appropriately in different traffic situations is key to proficient and safe driving.

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