Cars are not the only vehicles that occupy the roads. There are other types of vehicles such as motorcyclists, buses and trams which you must be aware of. In this theory test section, you’ll learn about:

  • The different types of vehicles that occupy the roads.
  • How to drive safely towards or follow different types of vehicles.

When you’re occupying a road with other types of vehicles to your own you need to be aware of its capabilities and limitations. By being aware of these you’ll be able to prepare and conduct yourself in a way that ensures safety for all road users.

Motorcycles

Motorcycles are lighter and less stable than cars or vans.  Therefore, they can be vulnerable, particularly in windy weather as they can be blown across the road and into you path. You should:

  • Allow extra room if overtaking a motorcyclist.
  • Keep well back if a motorcyclist in front of you is overtaking a high-sided vehicle. They could be blown off course and cause a crash.
  • Be particularly cautious of travelling motorcyclists where there are side-wind warning signs. As they are more likely to be blown off course in windy weather.

Side winds can affect all vehicles but cyclists, motorcyclists, drivers towing caravans or trailers and drivers of high-sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable. Therefore, if you are travelling behind one of these you should give them extra room. This is to protect you and other road users in the case of them being blown off course.

Motorcyclists are also more vulnerable to slipping on wet or oily surfaces. There you should be aware that they may swerve in a way that seems irrational if they spot uneven or slippery surfaces. Metal drain covers may not cause an issue for car drivers but are particularly hazardous for motorcyclists when wet and slippery.  If you’re travelling behind a motorcyclist you should allow plenty of space.

Large vehicles

It can be difficult to see the road ahead if you’re travelling behind a large vehicle. You should keep well back to ensure maximum visibility. This is particularly important if you are wishing to overtake, which is risky. You should drop further back in the event of another vehicle filling the gap you’ve left. This will give you the best possible view of the road ahead. You should also be aware that it takes longer to overtake a large vehicle than it does a car and behave accordingly.

Top tips for overtaking large vehicles include:

Keep well back.  Doing this allows the driver of the large vehicle to see you in their mirrors and allows you to see more of the road ahead.

This is particularly important in wet weather where spray from the road (large vehicles produce more spray than cars) makes visibility reduced and conditions hazardous. If these make it hard for you to be seen by other road users, use dipped headlights. If visibility is reduced to less than 100 metres (328 feet), you may use fog lights.

Don’t begin to overtake until you’re completely sure it’s safe to complete the manoeuvre. If in doubt; wait.

When you’re driving downhill there may be times when a large vehicle coming uphill needs to move out to pass a parked car. When this occurs you should slow down and give way if possible to do safely. The rationale for this is that it’s far more difficult for large vehicles to stop and then start up again if they’re going uphill, than it is for you in your car.

Large vehicles need plenty of room as they approach or negotiate road junctions, crossroads and mini-roundabouts, therefore, you should hold back and give them space to conduct their manoeuvres.

Long vehicles may need to move in the opposite direction to the one they’re indicating, when they’re attempting to turn on a roundabout. If they want to turn left, they may indicate left but move over to the right before making the turn, and vice versa. This may appear confusing but it is necessary to them to be able to turn safely. Keeping your distance will help them complete the turn safely and allow you maximum visibility.

You should also think about these issues if you’re waiting to turn left from a minor road and a large vehicle is approaching from the right. This is because although it may seem as if there’s time to turn, there could be an overtaking vehicle hidden from view.

Buses

Buses are one of the most common vehicles that you’re likely to encounter on the roads, particularly if driving in urban areas. You should be wary of the fact that bus drivers need to make frequent stops to pick up and set down passengers. Pedestrians who get off of buses may not act in a predictable way, they may get off and cross the road in front of or behind the bus. Therefore you should be cautious when a bus pulls in to stop at a bust stop. You should also be prepared to give way to a when it’s attempting to pull away from a  bus stop. This applies as long as it’s safe to do so.

Trams

Trams are a feature of some UK cities, these are marked by road signs and there may be extra white light signals present at some traffic lights for them.  They can be a little difficult to anticipate as they are very quiet, move quickly and are unable to steer. Making it impossible for the driver to avoid you in the event of a hazard.

Powered vehicles for disabled people

Some people with disabilities can be assisted by the use of powered vehicles such as wheelchairs and mobility scooters these have a maximum speed limit of 8 mph (12 km/h) when used on the road. They can also be clunkier to navigate and users may have slower reactions, so you should give extra room for manoeuvres.