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Useful Website – “Traffic Signs and Meanings”

One of the things that always amazes me (I know, I should have got used to it now!) is how little use riders at all levels make of road signs.

It’s as if they think they needed to learn them to get a licence, whether it was the old one with the Highway Code quiz at the end or the new computerised Theory test, and could then forget about them.

Few riders use road signs to gather as much information as they could. I’ve even had a rider with other advanced training turn up and said “oh, I never use road signs, I always look for other clues as it’s more advanced”.

Which is a distinctly warped attitude, considering that as human animals, the use of signs is an integral part of our communication skills.

Visual signs as diverse as company logos, health and safety signs, book and CD covers, gestures and facial expressions are all part and parcel of gathering information to allow us to make decisions.

So it seems a bit daft to throw away a highly standardised and usually consistent source of information, either by a lack of understanding of what signs offer in the way of knowledge of the road ahead, or by deliberate choice in the case of the advanced rider mentioned above!

However, getting back to the point of the post:

www.trafficsignsandmeanings.co.uk is a new website “formed to offer a unique reference point on all you need to know about traffic signs.”

The authors point out that “even for experienced drivers, getting your head around all of the traffic signs, traffic signals and road markings, and what exactly they are instructing you to do can be bewildering”.

Well, bewildering might be going a bit far, and at the moment they haven’t covered my two pet hates; priority working and paired mini-roundabouts – but overall there’s some useful information on there, as well as snippits of history and usage of things like cats-eyes, and some other info on issues like speed cameras and stopping distances.

There are a few inaccuracies such as the statement suggesting “if you see a double white line you are forbidden to overtake”.

This is a common misconception and one that causes a lot of grief between car drivers and motorcyclists. In fact, where the line on your side of the road is solid, it does NOT mean you cannot overtake – the law says you may not straddle it or cross it, except to turn right or to pass an obstruction such as a parked or broken down vehicle.

So if the road is wide enough, where there is slow moving or stationary queues, the rider can quite legally filter alongside the traffic so long as he doesn’t straddle the white line.

There are also some exceptions concerning the right to pass cycles, horses and road maintenance vehicles travelling at less than 10mph – note that tractors are NOT included in that list of exceptions.

However, a queue of stopped traffic does NOT count as an obstruction, and this is something the police are very hot on – you will get pulled for passing a queue of traffic on the wrong side of a solid line. Nor would I use this as an excluse for blasting up the outside of traffic moving at normal speeds on a fast road!

Those provisos apart (and I’ve pointed these inaccuracies out to them so hopefully the site will be corrected swiftly), if you’re new to riding or driving, it’s worth bookmarking and spending a few minutes browsing time here.

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