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It�s my right of way

When motorists enrol to take their Advanced Driving Test they often have to unlearn a few things that they believe to be true. One of these is that they have �right of way� in certain circumstances. This is not true!

The rules in the Highway Code do not give you the right of way in any circumstance, but they do advise you when you should give way to others. It states the obvious �Always give way if it can help to avoid an accident�. The Advanced Motorist would also add that they would give way if it meant their car would otherwise cause an obstruction or inconvenience.

An incorrect display of �It�s my right of way� can often be seen on The Common near the bakers where there is often a long line of cars parked. If a car coming from the Market Place drives on, mindless of any overtaking vehicles coming towards them, then quite simply they are in the wrong. The overtaking car could be towing a trailer and unable to pull into a limited space or they could be aware of another vehicle close behind that would make pulling in between the parked vehicles impractical.

What are the rights?

Let�s call the car overtaking the parked vehicles, Car 1, and the car coming from the Market Place Car 2.

Situation 1

Car 1 can see the end of the line of parked cars and sees it is clear to overtake. During the overtake Car 2 enters the area, clearly seeing it is not clear because of Car 1. In this case Car 2 must give way, otherwise the driver is committing an unnecessary obstruction. This is because the driver of Car 2 can see the problem and should not make it worse. The driver has every opportunity to stop and let Car 1 clear. Interestingly it only takes about 8 seconds for a slow moving car to overtake on this stretch. Even a convoy of three or four cars would only take about 12 seconds so Car 2 would hardly be inconvenienced.

Situation 2

If Car 1 has not begun the overtake and sees Car 2 approaching then they should wait because the obstruction is on their side of the road.

Situation 3

If Car 1 cannot see the other end of the line of parked cars, and therefore cannot see if anything else is coming, the driver has to commit to the overtake. If Car 2 is already in the area of the road obstructed by the parked cars, then a problem will arise, and there is no clear answer. The common sense solution is that the vehicle which has the easier reverse or shorter reverse to complete should give way. Also the bigger vehicle or driver may win the argument. This could be a reason some vehicles have Bull Bars fitted!

As always common sense and good manners play a big part in the solution.

MATLOCK (Derwent and Hope Valleys) Group of Advanced Motorists

IAM Group No. 4191