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Determining a safe gap when turning is an essential skill for driving.

How to Judge a Safe Gap In Traffic When Turning


Closed Caption


Hi there smart drivers, Rick with Smart Drive Test talking to you today about judging gap for new drivers working towards a license or those drivers that have got their license that are just embarking on their driving careers.

This is probably the most essential skill that you need in order to be able to turn safely on left and right turns.

When I was asked by Big Money Boss to do a video on how to judge gap, I had to give this a fair bit of thought because I was thinking about how we did this when we trained in the vehicle and actually what we do is if the student misjudges the gap we simply intervene.

And through the process of repetition and different traffic scenarios, the student learns when he or she can go.

And that's how we did it.

So doing a video on this tended to be a little bit more difficult because I actually to think about exercises that I could give you in order for your to do for you to be able to learn how to judge gap.

So that's what I'm going to do today.

I got a couple of exercises for you in order to help you to learn to judge gap more quickly.

And to actually be more precise in learning to judge gap.

As well, get with a veteran driver and drive around with them and have them help you judge gap to make sure that the gap is sufficient when you're making your left and right turns.

So stick around, we'll be right back with that information.

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Hi there smart drivers, welcome back.

Rick with Smart Drive Test talking to you today about judging gap.

We're standing out here on a highway where the speeds are in excess of a hundred kilometers an hour (60 miles an hour) and in a lot of instances people are doing 70, 75mph, 110kph, even sometimes 120 kilometers an hour on this highway.

Gap is Measured in Time

Now I sat down at the intersection and I was judging gap.

And it took about 10 seconds.

I wanted a 10 second gap before I pulled out into this intersection on the right-hand turn to get my vehicle going and get it up to speed in front of the traffic that was down there.

So what you do is you just simply come out to an intersection that you're having difficulty judging gap and start counting in seconds.

When you see the vehicles back off in the distance at a landmark--so pick a landmark--a traffic sign the end of a concrete barrier or whatnot and count for 10 seconds.

When learning to drive and judge the gap between you and other vehicle you must identify fixed landmarks.

On this intersection its way down there at the concrete barrier just by that green sign.

You may or may not be able to see that in the camera.

So that's one of the exercises that you can do is simply go to the intersections you're having difficulty judging gap and start counting and figuring out how long it takes a vehicle to get from a certain distance to where you are.

Meeting the Gap

The more you do that, the more this will become second nature and it will be easier for you to judge gap.

And know how long it takes you to get out into an intersection.

Now the other thing you can do on a left-hand turn, is do what we call "meeting the gap."

And when the vehicle is coming through on the gap that you know that it's going to work for you to get your vehicle through and around the intersection, you can start moving into the intersection on a straight line, and gaining speed with your vehicle before you actually start to execute the actual turn.

That way it's going to cut down the amount of time that you're in the intersection and doing your left hand turns.

Because you've got a lot more distance to travel through an intersection on the left-hand turn.

So we call it "meeting the gap" You start moving, forward as the other vehicle is coming through and once the vehicle clears the intersection then you can turn and you've got a bit of speed.

Now this is even more important in bigger vehicles.

When making left hand turns, move straight forward into the intersection to

The bigger the vehicle, the more you have to judge the gap, the more you up to stay back on the left-hand turn.

That way when you start to see the gap--the vehicles coming so you can move forward and gain speed--and if you're in a manual transmission you can also start shifting gears.

That way you're not going to be limited to your speed when you go through the intersection.

'Because you're going to be in the appropriate gear to go around the corner at some speed and make the left-hand turn.

So that's another way you can compensate for it.

Same thing on right-hand turns.

If you got a slip lane (turning lane) stay back a little bit.

That way, when you see the gap coming you can judge that gap and start moving forward and then simply turn in behind the other vehicle.

So that's another way you can do it.

So what we're going to do, is go down to some intersections here in town and we're going to judge the gap.

We're going to do the counting exercise and figure out how far away the other vehicles need to be.

Now one more point about judging gap for vehicles at intersections.

Smaller Vehicles

The smaller the vehicle, the more difficult is going to be to determine that vehicle's speed - motorcycles and bicycles are now coming out that we've got spring coming on.

And it is more difficult to judge the distance and judge the speed of motorcycles and bicycles because they're smaller vehicles.

Right-Brain Activity

And it is difficult for us to discern that because spatial orientation is essentially what you're trying to do with your ability to judge gap.

And that is a right-brain exercise.

When learning to drive and judging gap to turn, you must judge your distance in relation to other

If you want to learn more about spatial orientation and right brain exercises look at the book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain."

She talks about right brain activities and spatial orientation.

Because that's essentially what you're trying to do.

So have a look at that.

Work With Experienced Driver

As well, work with a veteran driver if you're having difficulty judging gap.

Go out with a driving instructor and do some work at complex intersections and on highways.

And work on just determining gap and determining when it is safe for you to go.

Because as I said, it's a lot more difficult for me to do this in a video than just to do it in the car and teach you at different situations and at different intersections where the traffic is ever evolving, because it's difficult to get a perspective in the camera as opposed to in a vehicle.

Learning to judge the gap to turn safely is best done with an experienced driver.

And actually being there in the situation.

So the more practice you get, the better you're going to be at judging gap.

And work with a veteran driver, work with a driving instructor, and they'll be able to help you judge gap.

And as well, know the amount of time it takes you to get through an intersection.

And practice that - go to an intersection and see how far away the cars are and how long it takes them to get to the intersection from a fixed landmark.

Driving Examples

So we're going to go to another intersection here and we're going to do some of those exercise in the urban center here.

[JUDGING GAP - IN VEHICLE] And moving out onto a big road at a high speed.

The speed limit is 90 kilometers an hour on this road (55 miles an hour).

And this is a very busy road and we have a big gap - [COUNTING] one thousand one, one thousand two, one-thousand three, one-thousand four one-thousand five, one-thousand six, 1,007, 1,008, 1,009, 1,010.

It took 10 second to get up to 90 kilometres an hour on that right-hand turn.

[LEFT-HAND TURN ONTO BUSY HIGHWAY] So this is more difficult because you have to judge the traffic from both directions.

And we got a good gap on this side but not on the other side.

There is a traffic island out there, but I don't want to be working on the traffic island just today.

So we need probably half a kilometer, a good quarter mile down to the right here to get out there.

And get the vehicle up to speed.

So we need the same on both sides.

So you need to wait, you need to be patient.

Especially on these bigger roads with much higher speeds.

It takes you a long time in a passenger vehicle to get out there and get up to speed as you can see.

You can learn to judge gap for safe turns by doing this timing exercise at an intersection.

And sitting here for quite a long time because one side clears and then the other side has traffic.

Never risk going on an insufficient gap.

Always take your time, wait for the gap, and get the gap that you need.

Because you don't want to be ran into by one of those big trucks because they'll just basically run over you and leave you in bits and pieces on the roadway.

So we've got one more car on the right here and we can probably go after this little bunch of traffic here.

And yes 1,001, 1,002, 1,003, 1,004, 1,005, and I've got the fuel pedal right on the floor.

And I'm at speed limit, so that was about a 8-seconds, I believe.

I'll time it in the post-production and see how long that took me to get the vehicle up to speed.

Now obviously a lot of you are going to have vehicles with much bigger engines.

And this one, this one's only got a four-cylinder in it.

So you're going to be able to get up to speed much more quickly than this vehicle was able to.


Quick review of judging gap.

Smaller vehicles are more difficult to determine their speed.

So motorcycles and bicycles are going to be harder to judge.

As well, as speeds increase, it's also harder to judge gap.

So know that when you're on highways and high-speed roads and those types of things.

It's going to be harder to judge gap.

In town you need five to eight seconds for both the left and a right hand turns.

Out on the highways, you're going to need 10 to 20 seconds, depending on your vehicle and how big the motor is and how fast you can get up to speed.

As you saw here in the video, on the left-hand turn out on the highway, when I was coming off a stop sign out onto a high speed highway, I had to sit there for a long time because I needed a gap on both sides to be able to make that left-hand turn.

So be patient, wait for the gap, don't get pressured by other vehicles, especially when you're a new driver because you're susceptible to that social pressure of other vehicles on the roadway.

So don't get pressured by other vehicles.

Take your time and go when you feel it is safe.

As well, when you're coming through left-hand turns--as this complex left-hand turn here at this intersection-- you can begin to move forward and meet the gap in the intersection.

That way you're going to get some speed.

And this is more important with larger vehicles that you have to stay back a little bit so you can get that speed - shift a couple of gears and then expediently clear the intersection as quickly as possible.

Work with a veteran driver and he or she will be able to help you with judging the gap.

If it's too low, as I said.

It's easier in a car to teach you this, then they can intervene and say, "no, no, the gap's not enough, don't go."

And as you get more exposure to more traffic scenarios at different intersections and those types of things, you are going to get experience and you're going to learn how to judge gap.

Because gap is a spatial orientation.

Some times misjudging the gap can result in blaring horns, or worse yet, a crash.

You're determining speed, you're determining the size of the vehicles, and how far away those are.

As well, come out to the intersections, like this one here, start counting, pick a fixed object off in the distance.

When the vehicle goes past that fixed object, see how long it takes them to get to the intersection.

That way you can start determining if you have a safe gap or what not.

Because you need five to eight seconds in town and you need ten to twenty out on the highway on high-speed highways that are in excess of 90 kilometers an hour or 55 miles an hour.

Questions for my smart drivers:

Have you made a turn and misjudged the gap? What were the consequences?

Did the vehicle just brake aggressively that you turned in front of and told to you your number one?

Leave a comment down in the comment section there.

All of that helps out the new drivers working towards their license.

I'm Rick with Smart Drive Test.

Thanks very much for watching.

If you like what you see here, share subscribe, leave a comment down in the comment section.

As well, hit that thumbs up button.

Check out all the videos here on the channel if you're working towards the license or starting a career as a truck or bus driver.

Lots of great information here.

As well, head over to the website: great information over there and awesome online courses that you can purchase.

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Thanks again for watching.

Good luck on your road test.

And remember, pick the best answer, not necessarily the right answer.

Have a great day.

Bye now.


[FADE TO BLACK - MUSIC] Man, something stinks out here! Must be the dump!?! [LOSING BALANCE WHEN SITTING] Whoa!! I'm Rick with smart drive test thanks very much for what

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