Driving in the correct position on the road is important for safety and helps traffic flow freely. In Great Britain, you should normally keep to the left side of the road.
Make sure you do not
- drive too close to the kerb, especially where there are pedestrians
- weave in and out between parked cars.
You must not drive
- on the pavement
- on the hard shoulder of a motorway
- on a cycle lane
- on a bus lane when it’s in operation, unless you’re driving a local service bus.
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 roadworks 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
- 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.
The size of your vehicle may have an effect on your road position, eg if your vehicle is wide you may need to straddle lanes, especially when turning. If there is a severe camber (slope) on the road, the top of a large vehicle can lean up to 250 mm (approx 10 inches) so you’d need to choose a position to make sure it will not collide with buildings, other vehicles or street furniture.
In some places, lanes are marked on the road to help guide traffic and to make best use of the road space. Lane discipline means using the correct lane for where you’re going and following the lane markings. This helps to avoid congestion and keeps traffic flowing safely, especially where traffic is heavy.
Make sure you move into the correct lane in good time. If you find you’re in the wrong lane and you do not have time to change lane safely, carry on in your lane and find another way back to your route.
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.
The performance and handling of your vehicle have a big effect on whether you can overtake safely: you’ll need to be able to accelerate quickly so you spend as little time as possible on the wrong side of the road. Because of their size and weight, you’ll need much more space to overtake when you’re driving a bus than you would in a car.
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.