Routine’s: M.S.P.S.L.

M

Mirrors

S

Signal

P

Position

S

Speed

L

Look

 

We need to approach junctions in a logical order as this enables us to be safe and let other people know our intentions in good time. The next section looks at the MSPSL routine in detail

Mirrors

The first things you need to check well in advance of reaching a junction are the mirrors, so that you can establish what road users are around you at that time. No single mirror gives you a complete picture so generally mirrors are checked in pairs – the centre mirror, which shows you what is directly behind the car, and either the left or right wing mirror, depending on which direction you are turning, which shows you what is alongside the car at that time. It is important that you act upon what you see in the mirrors – just because you have seen a vehicle behind you doesn´t mean that it is safe to continue with your turn. If there is a vehicle behind you, you need to let them know your intentions early so that everybody can be prepared for what you are about to do. You may actually see a cyclist in your left wing mirror and your intention is to turn left, if you continued with your turn you are likely to knock him off his bike. So by checking the mirrors and observing a cyclist we can take effective action by either slowing down and allowing the cyclist to come passed us before we make the turn or, depending on his proximity to you, an earlier signal may be enough to get him to slow down and allow you to turn.

Signal

Once you have checked your mirrors the next thing to do is let people know your intention to turn by signalling using the direction indicators. The timing of the signal is very important as people will act on what they see. Make sure that there isn´t another turning BEFORE the one you wish to take, giving a signal too early can lead to confusion and accidents. Imagine a car waiting to emerge from a junction on your left, you wish to take the second turn on your left but start signalling before the first turning. The car that is waiting to emerge will read your signal as meaning you are turning at the first junction and will start to emerge causing a potentially serious accident. Likewise signalling too late can be frustrating for other road users. A following vehicle will not be aware that you are intending to turn until the last minute and will have to brake harshly to compensate and a driver waiting to emerge from a junction may miss an opportunity to enter the road as they are not made aware of your intention to turn until it is too late for them to act.

Make sure that you give the correct signal also. All too often you see a car with the opposite signal on to where they are actually turning. This is incredibly dangerous as other road users will have already acted on what they have seen. Take for example a following motorcyclist, you are intending to turn right but you have accidentally put on a left signal. The motorcyclist will see your signal and start to overtake you just as you are starting to turn to the RIGHT!

At some junctions it may appear obvious to you as to where you are heading for example on to a one-way street or a filter arrowed traffic light junction. However, it is always necessary to signal at a junction as remember to other road users such as pedestrians it may not be that obvious.

Position

Once you have checked around and let people know your intentions you are now ready to get yourself prepared for the junction. Your position on the road can give other road users an idea of your intentions even without a signal and so if you are intending to turn left it is important that you keep left and if you are turning right ensure that the car is positioned as far right as your lane will allow. At roundabouts and larger junctions you need to check the road markings and get into your lane in good time, being mindful that at some junctions you follow the road ahead in the right hand lane and not the left as is normally the case. When turning into side roads it is important that you observe where your turning point actually is, cutting the corner may mean mounting the kerb causing loss of control, or putting yourself into the line of opposing traffic, which is dangerous. Turning too late may also mean that you have missed your target altogether and end up “swan necking” having to over steer to compensate for missing the turn. Take note of the type of road you are on also. Emerging right at the end of a one-way street for example would mean approaching the junction on the right hand side of the road not left!

Speed

To keep the car under control and to allow for a safe approach you should be reducing the car´s speed to approximately 10mph BEFORE you start to turn. Getting down to a safe speed gives you more time to react if something unexpected is around the corner or in front of you. It also allows you to stop if necessary or to make progress once more, for example the lights change to green whilst approaching. You can also make better judgements too at roundabouts if you approach at approximately 10mph, you may not need to stop if it is clear on approach but by travelling at 10mph you can safely stop too if a vehicle appears suddenly. Once you have reduced your speed make sure that your gear matches, if you´ve been travelling in 4th gear and you then drop your speed to 10mph, 4th gear won´t have the power in it you need to get away. So remember to slow down then change down!

Look

Sometimes the danger isn´t behind you but in front. Expect the unexpected. You´ve checked around you and you´ve signalled your intentions, your position is spot on and your speed and gear are perfect for the turn, you now need to do one final check into the road you´re turning in to. There could be a parked truck, people crossing, road works etc that are stopping you from making your turn. If you can´t turn don´t – be prepared to stop.

So when you´re out on your next driving lesson just remember the above stages and simply follow the logical order at each and every junction. Learning to drive is easier to do if you use systems to help you.