Turning Right at a Junction

Turning right at a junction can often be more challenging than turning left as you have 2 lanes of traffic to deal with. This can be especially difficult at high speed roads.

Examiners will of course have you turning right at T-junctions during the driving test and some of these junctions can be difficult. Turning right at junctions makes one of the biggest test failures. It’s important to get your timing right for the turn and of course the correct procedure.

This tutorial will guide you through the correct process for turning right at junctions to help you pass the driving test.

Procedure for approaching T-junctions to turn right

If you have already been taking driving lessons, you will be familiar with the MSM routine (Mirror, signal, manoeuvre). We need to use a slightly enhanced version of this for turning right at T-junctions, called MSPSL. This is the same mirror, signal, position, speed and look procedure for turning left at a junction, with a few changes for turning right.

Locating a T-junction

Locating a junction ahead as early as possible is essential as it will give you plenty of time to think about the procedure and observation when you get there. Many driving tests are failed as a result of not identifying a junction until it’s too late. You should be looking well ahead for give way signs, traffic lights and stop signs.

Quieter residential roads may have none of these signs, if this is the case you need to be driving much slower and be looking for junction lines, traffic crossing in front of you and other such observations like breaks in houses that can indicate a junction. Upon locating the junction up ahead, the MSPSL routine will need to be implemented in good time.

Mirror, signal, position, speed and look

Let’s take a look at the procedure your need to learn for turning right at a junction.

Mirrors and signal
The diagram shows a car turning right at a T-junction. The car labelled ‘M’ is where we start by looking in the interior main mirror, followed by the right side mirror. A signal to the right is then following the mirrors. A signal is required regardless of whether there is other traffic or not.

Turning right at a junction
Turning right at a junction, correct procedure for the driving test

For the position of your car when turning right, head over to the centre line in the road. If the road is wide enough for 2 vehicles at the junction line, position your car just left of the centre line. this will allow cars turning left to pull up to the junction line and not have to wait for you to go. If the road is wide enough for only 1 vehicle at the junction line, position your car in the centre of your side of the road as positioning too far right may make it difficult for cars turning into your road.

Turning right at a junction requires crossing 2 lanes and therefor the approach speed often needs to be slower than if you are turning left. You will need to asses if the junction is open or closed but in most cases continuously use the brake gently until you are at an appropriate speed for 1st gear, often around 5mph. If the junction is open, you may be able to slowly proceed in 1st gear without the need to stop.

Look up and down the road you intend to take as early as possible to establish if it is open or closed junction and to see if it is clear to proceed without the need to stop. It’s important to be looking for cyclists and pedestrians crossing as well. Remember, you need to approach a T-junction for turning right very slowly to give you plenty of time for observations. If you are not entirely sure it is safe to proceed, stop the car just before the junction line.

The driving test will involve many junctions where the examiner will ask you to turn right. There is also likely to be a busy junction so the examiner can assess your ability to judge approaching traffic. This can be difficult for learner driver to assess whether it is safe to proceed or remain stationary. To give you an idea if it is safe to proceed or not, think of yourself as a pedestrian trying to cross the road that you wish to join.

If, as a pedestrian, you feel it is safe to walk across both lanes, it is then safe for you to proceed out of the junction in your car. If you wouldn’t cross as a pedestrian, then wait. It is of course better to be on the side of caution than to pull out and impede other traffic. This will fail your test for sure. Being hesitant to the extreme can on occasions fail a driving test, although not often. It’s better to gain a minor or two for being slightly too hesitant than to gain a serious or even a dangerous and failing.

Turning right at a closed junction

Examiners tend to like T-junctions and turning right on the test. They may use very busy junctions or closed junctions. A closed junction is often narrow and very difficult to see into, often due to hedges, fences etc. If you are turning right at a closed junction, it is essential that you have excellent car and clutch control. Edge forward very slowly and keep looking left and right. You must be prepared to stop quickly. For an example of a closed junction, see:

Frequent mistakes at junctions

Turning right at a junction is most certainly at the top of the top 10 reasons to fail the driving test. Some of the main points to gaining minors or failing the driving test are due to inappropriate speed for the conditions and observing the junction too late. This tends to result in:

  • Checking mirrors and signalling too late
  • Braking too harshly to stop at the junction line
  • Coming to a stop over the junction line
  • Coming to a stop too early before the junction line
  • Lack of observation of cyclists
  • Not giving way to pedestrians crossing the road

Turning right at a T-junction also results in:

  • Bad judgement on pulling out and forcing other vehicles to slow down
  • Being too hesitant and taking too long to pull out
  • Pulling out into the road and stalling

Cyclists at junctions

If you are making a right turn at a T-junction and a cyclist in front not too far from the junction, hold back from the cyclist. Cyclists can often be unpredictable and could swing out in either direction at the last moment.

Essentially, keep behind the cyclists unless you are absolutely confident you will be able to overtake safely, in plenty of time and with ample distance from the cyclist. When turning right at a junction, beware of cyclists on the road you wish to join. They can be very difficult to see and can be hidden behind the window pillars of your car.


20 thoughts on “Turning Right at a Junction”

  1. Aslam Khan

    Last time my test was fail because iam turning right the traffic light was red I should go the examiner says I was the left lane and the other mistake was gain speed can u advice me about that pls

  2. Hello Aslam,
    When turning right at a set of light, there’s often a filter (arrow) light which when green gives vehicles clear priority to turn (oncoming traffic is on red).
    Alternatively, if it is a normal green light, you will have to often pull forward and stop to give way to oncoming vehicles (just as you would as if there was no light at all). I would think it is this situation that you are referring to and where both yourself and oncoming vehicle are both on a green light. You either need to wait for a gap in traffic to turn or when your light turns red, then make the turn else you’ll be blocking the junction. Also this will typically be done via a right lane where traffic in the left lane turns left or continues ahead.

  3. Iqra Arshad

    Hi, I am a passed driver. But I have a question for you.
    I was waiting at a T junction to turn right. It was a busy time of the day. Obviously there are two lanes so the car on the left gave me way to go, so I approached in the junction slowly to see if the other lane was safe and clear for me to go ahead. Upon approaching slowly I see a van coming in, clearly it wasn’t safe to go ahead. HOWEVER, he can clearly see I’m in the middle so instead of maybe slowing down or giving me way he started to speed up. Where am I supposed to go? What was he thinking do I just fly away?? I had my 2 year old in the back seat too. So he kept speeding and I did the horn to warn him. Only then he stopped.
    I believe he was at fault, he could have caused an accident and hit me and my son badly.
    What is your advice on this. Thank you

  4. Hello Iqra,
    It does appear that the van driver was attempting to intimidate you and was foolish in speeding up, though technically it was yourself at fault and causing the hazard. You must always give way to traffic that’s on the main road when emerging from a junction that has broken lines across the road. Additionally, you should not cross or join a road until there’s a gap large enough for you to merge into safely.

  5. Akan Leander

    Hi there – I was driving along a major road in traffic when I came to a stop in the traffic just before a junction with a minor road on my left. I left the junction clear to allow oncoming traffic to turn right into that minor road if necessary. The minor road wasn’t wide enough for me to cover just half of it while leaving half clear for major to minor right turning cars to complete their turn behind my car. So if I had progressed to cover the junction it would have prevented anyone from emerging from that road as well as anyone from turning into it. I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to do (and whether the right turning traffic has a right of way there, or whether I had the right of way and could cover that junction even if it blocked right turning onto the minor road and might hold up traffic coming in the opposite direction waiting behind the right turning car). Is not blocking junctions for right-turners a courtesy or is it obligatory in some instances? My wife was in the car with me and didn’t know either.

    Thanks very much!

  6. Hi Akan.
    The only time it would be mandatory to leave the junction clear would be if there was a yellow box junction. Personally, I think it’s the courteous thing to do is to leave a gap for traffic to enter the junction and I always do where possible. However, there’s no legal requirement to do so other than what’s outlined above.

  7. Jorja

    Hi there,
    I just failed my test today when turning right on a T-intersection just like your pic. I followed the MSPSL but the examiner said that I blocked the road. As he interpreted, I should drive straightly till the end and then made a 90 degree angle turn. I’m confused because that’s almost impossible. So did he mean that I turned too early? Should I make the turn after I passed the center line of the intended road? Since I’m at the bottom of T-intersection, there is no oncoming traffic from the top.
    Looking forward to your kind reply. Thanks very much!

  8. Hello Jorja,
    So from how I interpret your comment, it sounds like you were blocking the road where you stopped at the T-junction. Not entirely sure if it’s:
    1. You stopped at the junction too far over to the left preventing following drivers intending on turning left to pass you (some narrow roads this is unavoidable).
    2. At the junction line, you turned right too early, cutting the junction so that your car went onto the opposite carriageway before completing your manoeuvre onto the new road.

    Positioning at junctions is important. At a T-junction when turning right, position your car so that the front of your car stops just before the junction line and over as far right as possible, but just to the left of the centre line (just like the yellow car in the pic). This means that if the road is wide enough, drivers wishing to turn left at the junction can pass you up to the line.

    You should also keep your car straight and only turn the wheels after you’ve passed the junction line. If you turn too early, you may block the road, making it difficult for cars entering the junction that you are exiting. You can make very sharp 90 degree turns in a car providing that you turn quickly and move the car relatively slowly.

  9. Jorja

    In reply to Driving Test Tips.

    Got it. Thanks so much for your prompt reply!
    I’ll keep that in mind and hopefully pass the exam next time~

  10. Sydney

    Turning right when two t junctions practically face each other, does the person turning left opposite you, or you turning right, have the right of way?

  11. Hello Sydney,
    Assuming that there are no traffic signals, signs or road markings that dictate otherwise, if you’re both waiting to turn at the junctions, then no one has right of way. The main rule to go by is to give way to traffic already on the carriageway. At a staggered crossroads, whichever driver makes it onto the new road first and if you require crossing or joining their lane, they will have priority.

  12. Elle

    Hello, I got a serious driving fault on my driving test and I’m not sure how I should have dealt with it. I was turning right at traffic lights from a dual carriageway on to a minor road and there was oncoming traffic. There was another car in front of me and we both positioned in the box past the traffic lights. We had to wait to allow oncoming traffic to pass. The car in front of me had a gap in the traffic and was able to go. I moved forward, but more oncoming traffic was approaching so I waited. I did not realise that the light for the oncoming traffic had turned red as the cars were still moving as they approached their line. This was my opportunity to go but I waited until I could see the traffic had stopped before I turned – I didn’t want to risk pulling in front of them if their light was still green. My question is how would I know that the oncoming traffic is coming to a stop? It was difficult to assess their speed.

  13. Hello Elle,
    Were there repeater traffic lights? If you could post a link to the junction on Google maps, then we can see what you are dealing with/

  14. Sue Phillips

    If you are asked to turn right at a very busy T junction with a blind bend, can you say you would prefer to turn left then turn around down the road where able?

  15. Hi Sue,
    I certainly wouldn’t refuse what’s instructed by the examiner, but if you were to ‘accidently’ turn left rather than right, that may go more in your favour. Examiners are absolutely not supposed to fail a test candidate for taking a wrong direction – provided that it was safe and legal.

  16. Rijomon Joseph

    While green signal open i moved to turn the car on a junction but somany cars were coming from oposite side to straight because I can’t take right and in middle of the junction. But while clearing and turned to right the signal was read, is it will be a problem?

  17. Hi Rijomon,
    No this isn’t a problem and what you did was correct. You had already committed to the junction, so you need to wait for the traffic from the opposite direction to stop (or a gap) before you proceed. If you had remained where you were, you will have blocked the junction.

  18. paula

    Can you clarify when turning right onto a bust main road with oncoming traffic from the left. If the car on the main rod is signalling to turn left, can the driver pull out right before the oncoming car turns left. Or do you assume the the oncoming car may not be turning left, only full out after the car has turned left?

  19. Hi Paula

    I would look for other possible left turns that the driver may be taking, driveways for example. It may not be the left turn that you assume that the driver is taking.
    It depends on other factors such as the speed of the main road and the distance from the left-turning car.
    Personally, I would wait for conformation that the driver is committed to taking the left turn by looking for a reduction in their speed prior to taking the turn.

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