Emerging Left

Emerging is the term we use when you are turning out of a road into a new one. This means you have the responsibility of finding a gap in the traffic. So many accidents happen because drivers did not “see” another road user. This is often not a problem with the eyes but a problem with processing what they saw. It is very easy to see what we want to see or miss some thing because we were not expecting it. Be very careful when emerging into a new road to take the time to look for: cyclists, motorcyclists, vehicles moving alongside or from out behind parked vehicles.

Remember to identify the junction and collect information throughout this routine.

We know the routine starts with checking the centre and then the left mirror as per the Highway Code. Specifically look for cyclists who may come along side you as you near the junction and assess the distance of following vehicles so that you can give them ample warning of your intentions.


Rule 161 

Mirrors. All mirrors should be used effectively throughout your journey. You should

  • use your mirrors frequently so that you always know what is behind and to each side of you
  • use them in good time before you signal or change direction or speed
  • be aware that mirrors do not cover all areas and there will be blind spots. You will need to look round and check.

Remember: Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre

Rule 182

Use your mirrors and give a left-turn signal well before you turn left. Do not overtake just before you turn left and watch out for traffic coming up on your left before you make the turn, especially if driving a large vehicle. Cyclists, motorcyclists and other road users in particular may be hidden from your view.

Rule 182: Do not cut in on cyclists

Rule 182: Do not cut in on cyclists


Rule 103 

Signals warn and inform other road users, including pedestrians (see ‘Signals to other road users), of your intended actions. You should always

  • give clear signals in plenty of time, having checked it is not misleading to signal at that time
  • use them to advise other road users before changing course or direction, stopping or moving off
  • cancel them after use
  • make sure your signals will not confuse others. If, for instance, you want to stop after a side road, do not signal until you are passing the road. If you signal earlier it may give the impression that you intend to turn into the road. Your brake lights will warn traffic behind you that you are slowing down
  • use an arm signal to emphasise or reinforce your signal if necessary. Remember that signalling does not give you priority.

 The correct position for emerging left is to keep to the left of the lane or to position in the left lane if there is one. This will include following the line of the kerb as you approach the end of the junction. As the Highway Code rules make clear you need to use road markings to guide you and be aware and leave space for other road users. 

Rule 183 

When turning

  • keep as close to the left as is safe and practicable
  • give way to any vehicles using a bus lane, cycle lane or tramway from either direction. 

Rule 131

Lane dividers. These are short, broken white lines which are used on wide carriageways to divide them into lanes. You should keep between them.

Rule 141

Bus lanes. These are shown by road markings and signs that indicate which (if any) other vehicles are permitted to use the bus lane. Unless otherwise indicated, you should not drive in a bus lane during its period of operation. You may enter a bus lane to stop, to load or unload where this is not prohibited.

Rule 127

A broken white line. This marks the centre of the road. When this line lengthens and the gaps shorten, it means that there is a hazard ahead. Do not cross it unless you can see the road is clear and wish to overtake or turn off.

 The adjustment of your speed and any necessary change of gear is likely to overlap with other elements of this routine. In order to stay safe you will want to adjust your speed gradually so that others have a chance to respond (you do not want someone to drive into the back of your vehicle because you surprised them by slowing down very quickly). I always try to do any gear change before I get to the point where I am needing to steer or when I need to be concentrating on looking at the junction. Especially if gear changes cause you some stress – change the gear reasonably early. Your speed and gear when emerging left is likely to be either slowing down and into 2nd gear as you near the junction and continuing to slow down until you see an opportunity to go, or to slow down and change into 1st gear as you near the junction using the clutch at the biting point to creep whilst you make the necessary observations. Of course, it is possible at busy junctions that you will be slowing to a crawl due to the volume of traffic in which case you will be very slow and in first gear very early!

Rule 117

In normal circumstances. The safest way to brake is to do so early and lightly. Brake more firmly as you begin to stop. Ease the pressure off just before the vehicle comes to rest to avoid a jerky stop.


Rule 151

In slow-moving traffic. You should

  • reduce the distance between you and the vehicle ahead to maintain traffic flow
  • never get so close to the vehicle in front that you cannot stop safely
  • leave enough space to be able to manoeuvre if the vehicle in front breaks down or an emergency vehicle needs to get past
  • not change lanes to the left to overtake
  • allow access into and from side roads, as blocking these will add to congestion
  • be aware of cyclists and motorcyclists who may be passing on either side.

Rule 151: Do not block access to a side road

Rule 151: Do not block access to a side road


The reason for slowing down considerably as you prepare to emerge left is so that you can lookassessdecide and act on what you will do next. There are many things that may obstruct your view as you near the junction (e.g. stationary vehicles, moving vehicles, walls, hedges, road works or people). It is most important then that you look carefully and you are sure that you have seen what is there. Emerging means you are ‘giving way’, that is, you need to find a gap in the traffic and then move your car into it. You will then need to match your speed to the flow of the traffic. You will need to factor in the speed of the vehicles on the road as well as their position and their intentions to do this. As the Highway Code reminds us vehicles signalling left may not turn left; however if a vehicle is signalling left and slowing down significantly and you can see the driver looking to the left then you would feel confident that vehicle will turn possibly giving you the opportunity to go. When you join the new road other road users should not have to slow down / stop or move out of the way for you. They have priority and you must fit in with them; do not make them adjust their speed or position for you.

Rule 104

You should also

  • watch out for signals given by other road users and proceed only when you are satisfied that it is safe
  • be aware that an indicator on another vehicle may not have been cancelled.

Rule 170

Take extra care at junctions. You should

  • watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists, powered wheelchairs/mobility scooters and pedestrians as they are not always easy to see. Be aware that they may not have seen or heard you if you are approaching from behind
  • watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way
  • watch out for long vehicles which may be turning at a junction ahead; they may have to use the whole width of the road to make the turn (see Rule 221)
  • watch out for horse riders who may take a different line on the road from that which you would expect
  • not assume, when waiting at a junction, that a vehicle coming from the right and signalling left will actually turn. Wait and make sure
  • look all around before emerging. Do not cross or join a road until there is a gap large enough for you to do so safely.

Rule 170: Give way to pedestrians who have started to cross

Rule 170: Give way to pedestrians who have started to cross

Rule 172

The approach to a junction may have a ‘Give Way’ sign or a triangle marked on the road. You MUST give way to traffic on the main road when emerging from a junction with broken white lines across the road.

Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10(1),16(1) & 25

My best advice when it comes to choosing a gap is this:

If in doubt, wait.

When you go, go well.

As ever I would expect your Instructor or accompanying driver to give you extra help and advice if you need it.