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There are many driving behaviours which make you a safer motorist, but one way of making sure that you stay one step ahead when behind the wheel is by reading the road.
Warnings, orders and information signs
Road signs are in place to tell road users a multitude of things – triangles are warnings, circles give orders, and rectangles are informative.
Many motorists might have become aware of information signs before they even began their driving lessons, but, if not, these signs are easily recognisable because they show important road and area information such as where the different exits on a roundabout lead to or when motorists can and cannot park in a certain place.
A simple way of remembering that triangle signs are warnings is by remembering the phrase, “Careful sharp corners!” This is an amusing way of helping those struggling to remember the function of triangular signs, since triangles are generally thought to be one of the pointiest shapes.
Circle signs come in red and in blue. Red circles order individuals not to do something, and blue circles order themto do something. Most speed limits have red borders and this will mean that if the sign says “40”, the maximum speed at which you should be driving is at 40mph – and not any faster. However, occasionally road users will come across a speed sign on a blue background and if the sign states “40”, then they should be driving at a minimum of 40mph – and can go quicker, up to the nationally recognised speed limit for that road.
Perhaps the simplest road marking on highways is the centre line, which separates one side of the road from the other or one lane from the next on a duel carriageway or motorway, but these simple lines can offer important information about the road ahead.
Usually, on a basic stretch of two-way road, white centre markings and the gaps between them are the same length. However, if the vehicle is approaching a hazard such as a sharp turn or roundabout, then the white lines will become longer and the gaps between them will shorten. Lines on duel carriage ways or motorways are short with a large gap between them.
It is always useful to be aware of road markings, especially when driving in an unfamiliar area. It may help drivers to avoid harsh braking when going towards an obstacle, which is good not only because when aware of an obstacle drivers are more likely to be able to avoid it effectively, but also because harsh braking wears vehicle tyres down faster and is particularly bad for fuel efficiency.
Using road signs and road markings should make motorists more conscious of the highway around them, and coupled with a good use of car mirrors the likelihood of being involved in a road traffic accident should consequently be reduced.
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