Lane Discipline

Motorways, dual carriageways, multi-lane roundabouts and junction all have lanes. Lanes are defined by broken or solid white lines.

Lane discipline definition in terms of driving is when a driver unintentionally straddles another lane that is not theirs and does not keep within the lines of their lane. Whether done intentionally but not safely, or if the driver is completely unaware, this is a form of dangerous driving that could lead to prosecution if caught by the police.

Safe and correct lane discipline is essential for learner drivers wishing to pass the driving test. This tutorial explains the most common lane discipline mistakes and tips on correcting them.

Bad lane discipline is often the result of a lack of forward planning and good observation which leads to a driver finding themselves in a situation they weren’t prepared for. Usually this stems from a lack of concentration for the task at hand, which is of course driving. For learner drivers however, it’s simply a case of lack of experience.

Lane discipline
Many accidents are the result of bad lane discipline

Lane discipline roundabouts

Poor lane discipline at roundabouts is very common in learner drivers. A good experienced driver will approach a roundabout based on what they see and if they have any previous experience of this roundabout. The key to good lane discipline at roundabouts is to locate the roundabout at the earliest opportunity.

In a driving test, the examiner may provide you with an exit to take off the roundabout, if it is during the independent part of the driving test, you will need to locate road signs and road markings at your earliest chance.

Approaching a roundabout too fast is highly likely to result in poor lane discipline. Approach the roundabout at a safe and appropriate speed for the conditions. If the lanes are small or the roundabout is difficult to see around, approach very slowly. Study the signs in good time to establish the correct lane needed and keep a keen eye on road markings.

As you get closer to the roundabout, a learner driver typically spends too much time looking to the right. As lanes often curve on the approach to a roundabout, a learner driver can easily straddle lanes if they spend too much time looking to the right. A learner does this because they need to know if they can continue or if they need to stop. Learner drivers tend to not like stopping at roundabouts as they can often have a fear of knowing when to move off if busy.

The way to do it is approach very slowly and to briskly alternate observation from the right to the direction you are travelling. Constantly turn your head from right to the direction you are travelling frequently and this will allow you to not only see if traffic is approaching to the right, but keep within your lanes. This can be easily accomplished if driving at a slow and safe speed.

Driving at a roundabout too fast not only leads to bad lane discipline, but in many cases can result in unnecessarily stopping due to the driver not having enough time to see that it’s clear. It’s safer to approach the roundabout a little slower than everyone else than to abruptly stop at a clear roundabout.

Wrong Lane at Roundabout

If you do happen to find yourself in the wrong lane at a roundabout and this also applies during your driving test, observe road markings and traffic around you and only attempt to enter the correct lane if it’s safe and legal to do so. If in doubt, continue in your current lane and if necessary, take the unintended exit from the roundabout. If this happens during a driving test, you will not fail provided you followed the exit safely.

lane discipline junctions

Similarly to roundabouts, the key to good lane discipline at junctions is due to good observation and the approach speed and giving yourself as much time to take effective observation as possible.

Finding yourself in the wrong lane at a junction on a driving test isn’t poor lane discipline, it’s a simple navigation error and will not impact your driving test. As with all junctions and roundabouts, if you’re in the wrong lane, move into the correct lane safely by use of mirrors, blind spot check and signalling¬†only if it is safe to do so. If not, remain in your current lane to receive alternate directions from the examiner.

Lane discipline when driving

General lane discipline when driving is often related more to road positioning. See the tips and guide on establishing a reference point for ideal road positioning.

lane discipline on driving test

If taking a driving test and you realise you straddled lanes, the driving examiner will have noticed this so don’t pretend they didn’t notice. Verbally point out your error to the examiner immediately. The very fact that you acknowledged your mistake will put you in good standing and if your actions did not have an impact on anyone else, you may get away with your mistake. Pointing out your mistake quickly, before the examiner marks the report sheet, may have an effect on which box they tick; serious or minor.

As a learner going for a driving test, study the driving test routes as best as possible. Although knowing each and every possible test route isn’t necessary, each and every driving test centre has particularly difficult areas intentionally laid out by the examiners. These are usually in the form of complex roundabouts, junctions, crossroad and one-way-systems. Other difficult areas can include small and blind roundabouts / junctions in residential areas. A good local driving instructor will know these areas that are prone to failing many tests.

Lane discipline tips

  • Look well ahead whilst driving for road signs, road markings and anything that may signify a junction or roundabout is ahead such as traffic crossing in front of you.
  • Slowdown in good time to establish the correct lane.
  • If the location looks busy or difficult to manoeuvre, keep the vehicle extra slow.
  • Keep an eye on the lanes to see if they curve round a corner and at roundabouts alternate observations from the right to where you are going constantly and quickly.

Further Guides and Tutorials Related to Lane Discipline

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