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Avoiding an Obstruction On a Single-laned/Unlaned Road. Passing Parked Cars

Passing parked cars is a relatively common driving test failure. The reason being that a learner driver may not effectively forward plan, is unable to predict a possible situation occurring or does not correctly judge a situation they are currently in, or simply do not know what to do in such a situation.The key to resolving a hazardous driving situation is thinking distance – the time it takes for a driver to react to a situation. Many learners fail tests not because they’re going too fast in legal terms, but because they don’t give themselves enough time to think. If the road ahead looks hazardous, ease off the accelerator, observe and think.

Passing Parked Cars On the Left

Remember, the distance between parked cars and the car you are driving has to be 1.2 metres. Passing the yellow parked cars on the left, the red car has to give way due to the necessity of crossing onto the opposite side of the road in order to clear the parked cars. The red car will need to wait behind the yellow cars to give way to oncoming vehicles. However, if there are no oncoming vehicles, the red car don't have to indicate crossing the doted or solid lines if there are any marked on the road.

Passing Parked Cars On the Right

Passing the yellow parked cars on the right, the red car has right of way. Vehicles travelling in the opposite direction will need to wait behind the yellow cars until it is clear for them to cross onto the opposite side of the road.

Passing Parked Cars Both Sides

Vehicles parked on both sides of the road illustrated by the yellow cars, nobody has right of way. Either the drivers of the red cars will need to find a suitable gap to pull into by indicating right to allow the other vehicle to continue.

Giving way if you have right of way

As the driver of the red car with the yellow parked cars on the opposite side of the road, you have right of way. However, if an oncoming vehicle has already committed to the overtaking procedure whilst you are approaching, you have to give way. It’s essential that you look well ahead and be prepared to give way even if it’s your right of way.

To be not boxed-in, observe the parked cars well before you reach them, gently slow the car and look well ahead for oncoming vehicles.

Whilst passing the parked cars, look out for gaps in the within the cars that are large enough for an oncoming vehicle to pull into. If the road is narrow, be prepared to stop and wait for the oncoming car to pull into the gap and allow you to proceed.

Signal when passing parked cars

Generally, you don't have to indicate when passing parked cars. Excessive signalling in this situation can potentially be confusing to other drivers as they may think you are making a right turn.

There are however situations where an indicator may be of benefit to other vehicles. As illustrated in the diagram, the red car is approaching yellow parked cars on the left, so the driver has to give way for the green car. The road is narrow, so when you stop to give way, your road position will not be too dissimilar to that of the parked cars. A signal to the right on this occasion will provide the driver of the vehicle behind you with your intention to continue round to the right, passed the parked cars, and that you have simply not parked behind the other parked cars. A signal to the right will also inform the driver in the oncoming vehicle that you are giving way to them.

Any situation that a signal will eliminate any possible confusion is necessary. It’s not always parked cars of course. Any object on your side of the road that requires you give way to oncoming vehicles may require a signal if there is a vehicle driving behind you and you believe the object may be difficult for the vehicle behind you to see. Again, this will make your intentions clear to the driver behind and in the front.

If you are giving way behind a parked car whilst waiting for an oncoming car to pass, before moving off it may be necessary to take a quick glance into the side mirror and the blind spot on the right to make sure there are no cyclists behind you, and the vehicle behind is not overtaking you.

Distance and Your Speed

Passing parked cars, you have to keep 1.2-metre clearance to avoid potential accident when someone opens the door in a parked car. If passing parked cars on a narrow road for example, it isn’t always possible to leave a 1.2-metre clearance gap. Appropriate speed now becomes significant. The speed at which you drive in this situation depends on the passing clearance available from the parked cars and your ability to spot any hazards ahead such as approaching vehicles. Even in a 50 or 40km/ph zone, on a narrow, bendy road whilst passing parked cars, it may be necessary to drive significantly slower than the speed limit.

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