Before you overtake, do you...?

...check for junctions on the left?

Most riders are aware of the hazards posed by junctions and laybys to the right - the car might turn in or someone might pull out - but rather less attention is payed to junctions on the left.

What might we expect?

If the vehicle ahead decides to turn left, it might slow... Good you say, that'll make it easier to pass... but what if it slows and swings right to make the turn easy? Not unusual with an artic, but lazy car drivers do it too. You might be carrying far too much speed to slow.

What if the car ahead of the vehicle you intend to pass starts to slow to turn left? What will the vehicle you are trying to pass do? Close up the gap of course. Where is your "out" from the overtake? The gap you were planning to use might have vanished leaving you hung out to dry.

Could you see an MGB-GT or a Lotus Elise waiting to turn out of the junction if you started to move out to overtake a Landrover Discovery? Maybe not.

And ask yourself, could the waiting driver see YOU through that Discovery? Almost certainly he won't know you are there. So he'll make his driving decisions based on the assumption that's it's safe to manoeuvre.

So the vehicle might emerge from the junction and turn left in your direction of travel. This might cause bunching or it might have pulled into the gap you were planning on. At best this might mean you are catching it very fast indeed, at worst, you may not be able to move in again.

And what if that vehicle turns RIGHT? The driver may only need a small gap to nip out through but as he's not see you as you are heading up the outside, you're now on a head-on collision course. Not a nice thought.

But it's difficult to spot junctions and entrances on the left, you say. Sometimes difficult yes, impossible I don't think so... that's just a failure of observation. Most people are so fixated on the job of getting past, that they fail to look for the hazards properly.

Triangular warning signs, road direction signs, finger posts, traffic islands/hatched refuges, white paint in junction, hazard line, dropped kerb/break in grass verge, change of colour of pavement/verge, break in line of hedge/houses, gaps in lines of parked cars, line of telegraph poles/trees/hedgerow/tops of cars at an angle from road ahead.

Quite a few clues there if you know what to look for.

[Some days later]

Well... deja vu moment or what...

Having written this, there I was, zipping down a nice bit of road, slower car ahead, good straight coming up just around the corner... get the view, it's clear... but...

I catch a glimpse of something silver to the left just as I move out to start the pass... and abort...

Just as well, because right in front of the car I was about to pass, out pulls a driver in a powerful Mercedes from a well-hedged driveway, turns right into what would have been my path had I continued with the manoeuvre and accelerates hard.

I'm glad I was out of the way!