I'm still somewhat surprised by the number of test canditates who stop in the centre of their lane when held up, for example at traffic lights. This is something that has been discussed at observer meetings and I know it is being passed on to the associates because they tell me so during debrief, however for some reason it is the first thing they seem to forget on test.

Taking the example of traffic lights very early during most tests a fair proportion of canditates have to stop at the Lydden lights on the A2 towards Dover. These lights are on a straight stretch of dual carriageway, and approaching traffic is usually at 70mph plus. There is a second set of lights approximately 300m further on and I usually ask associates to turn right there. As a result most approach the first set in the offside lane and if the lights are red they clearly have to stop. Now given this set of circumstances, and not wishing to embarrass anyone, would you really want to stop in the middle of the offside lane.

Using Advanced Riding principles, what can be seen? We have a straight stretch of dual carriageway with traffic at high speed. We have a set of traffic lights on red and lets just assume we have a lorry stopped in lane one. There is a central reservation with railings etc and traffic moving across the junction ahead. In our mirror we can see approaching traffic.

What can't be seen...well we don't know what the next driver behind us is doing, he may be on the 'phone, changing a CD, distracted or even partially sighted (I joke not). We certainly didn't know that the lorry driver two behind him has been held up in traffic all night, is seven hours overdue his rest break and is rushing to catch the ferry.

What may reasonably be expected to happen? Well the driver on the phone may not see you or the lights, and the lorry driver may not stop. Given that one of the most common causes of crashes is the tail end charlie at traffic lights I don't think that is unreasonable. If you have any local knowledge you will know that the A2 runs East/West and in the morning the sun rises directly in the face of drivers travelling towards Dover. Throw in a little dazzle from a wet road and I'm sure you get the picture....

Taking the above as the "Information" our next feature of the system is position. Where is the safest place to put ourselves so that we can manage all the identified hazards. I would suggest either tight up against the offside kerb (central reservation), or tight up alongside the lorry. This way you leave a nice big gap for anyone who doesn't stop, and if they do stop they won't be directly behind you. Once stopped keep half an eye on your mirrors and watch the first two or three pull up behind you. You can always nip away a few yards if everything goes wrong behind you....The easy way to remember it is to never see an empty road. If there was traffic already stopped in both lanes would you pull up at the back? You would filter down one side or the other towards the front......wouldn't you?

This principle works in all traffic situations, not just traffic lights. Roundabouts are the next favorite but also T junctions and simply being held up in traffic. The rule to follow is simple, don't stop directly behind, or potentially in front of, another vehicle. Good luck and safe riding.

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