Turns | Steering | Intersections


There’s a lot going on when you’re first learning to drive, especially when it comes to making turns. Essentially, you’ve got to have the same level of coordination as a drummer in a band or a hockey player on the ice. 

For example, a drummer uses their left hand to play the snare drum, right hand and left foot for the high hat, and their right foot for the base drum. And that is just to play one instrument by itself. Add in a band, and now one must not only maintain rhythm and coordination, but must also maintain sync and flow with the rest of the band. Similarly in traffic, a driver learns how to control the brake and gas pedals, steering wheel, and in some cases a manual shifter. 

Once the driver is confident and able to, they will venture out into traffic where they will now have to not only control their vehicle in a smooth flowing manner, but will have to do so while maintaining harmony with the rest of traffic. 

So in a sense, driving in traffic is like being a part of a band in that you have to maintain control of your vehicle (instrument) while ensuring harmonious flow with fellow motorists (band members). 

Pro tip: You can adjust the playback speed of this video and slow it right down. This will make it a bit easier to see what my hands are doing while doing hand over hand steering. Don’t get discouraged with this, it takes a bit of practice. The key is to take your time.

Motorcycle turning left in Bayers Lake.

You are weakest on your driver’s side when making a turn – Always take your time when judging traffic

How To Properly Use Your Turn Signals: How Far Ahead Should You Signal, When To Use Them, And Why


My BMW 430i Grand Coupe.

Hand Over Hand Steering

A simple way to remember this technique is you lift the hand of whichever side you are turning so the other can pass under.

The best way to learn complicated tasks like driving is to break apart the more challenging aspects of it and perfect each individual technique separately. Let’s look at a rolling turn as an example, as it is one of the more difficult maneuvers to perfect with good flow. 

McLaren on Hammonds Plains Road.

Counter Steering can help you recover from a skid. Just turn your wheels in the same direction of the skid.

The Difference Between Oversteer and Understeer

First, you approach the turn at a safe speed for how sharp it is, while maintaining a steady pressure on the brake or gas pedals depending on whether it’s an uphill or downhill turn. The turn signal must be activated at the correct moment, then the steering wheel must be turned smoothly while maintaining seamless flow. All of these steps are performed at specific times and together during a rolling turn.

Hand over hand steering

So, to perfect rolling turns, one can focus on just the approach speed for the turn and then once that is perfected, they can add in smooth (Hand Over Hand) steering. If adding in the steering causes the approach speed to suffer, remove the steering and go back to perfect the approach speed again until it’s back to perfect. A driver must perfect all of these steps harmoniously at slower speeds then gradually increase to faster speeds.

Over time and with practice, all of these steps fuse together and become second nature for a driver which then allows them to free up more mental bandwidth (no pun intended) for spotting hazards on the roadway. This method works great for merging, passing, and any other complicated task. Slow it down, break it apart, perfect that flow. 

This is what’s possible when you practice; Travis Pastrana Takeover


Stop before the line. If there is no line, stop before the sign.

Principles of Intersection Safety

The Safe Distance To Stop Behind A Vehicle At A Traffic Light Or Other Line Of Stopped Cars

Controlled Intersections

When the lights go out at an intersection, traffic will become more complicated. The intersection becomes a 4 way stop when the lights aren’t working. You can always expect that some drivers will not stop, so it is very important that you scan the intersection before proceeding.

Lights-Out Intersections

When the lights are out at an intersection at night, it will be one of the most dangerous situations you will ever face while driving. If the lights are out at an intersection at night you should not only be vigilant but also a bit paranoid. Many of the motorists traveling through the intersection will not even realize that there is an intersection there and will keep driving through. Note that none of the traffic lights in Nova Scotia have any kind of backup lighting or reflective tape for these types of situations.

I used to ride a sport bike and one thing I can tell you is, you have to ride like everyone else on the road is trying to kill you. In this clip, the rider is approaching an intersection at what appears to be too fast of a speed. Motorcycles are a lot smaller than cars and are therefore much harder to see. All the more reason for motorcyclists to ride at the speed limit.

Never speed up at an intersection

You must yield to oncoming traffic when waiting to turn left on a solid green light. Left turns on solid green lights will be the most dangerous thing you will ever do while driving.

How To Make Safe Left Turns At Intersections Across Oncoming Traffic: Don’t Have A Wreck Like I Did!

  • SOLID GREEN: Go, but yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic driving straight through the intersection.
  • FLASHING GREEN: You have the right-of-way to turn left, right, or continue straight.
  • GREEN ARROW: You can go in the direction of the arrow.

Left Hand Turns At Intersections On Solid Green Lights; Take your time!

Intersection tips

  • When turning left, use the drain grates in the intersection to gauge where the center is. 
  • For right turns, don’t drive out before cutting the wheel to begin the turn.
  • HOH steering works best with 90 degree turns.
  • If a vehicle pulls up to the stop sign as you are preparing to turn, reduce your speed even more and use whichever steering method you are most comfortable with.
  • Never trust anyone’s signal light. Wait until the vehicle physically slows down.
  • Stop at the stop line, or the sign if there is no line.
  • If you are stopped at the intersection and the car in front of you proceeds through, you still have to do a full stop at the line even if you are already stopped.
  • If you make a mistake at an intersection, just wave and smile.

Red Light Runners In Halifax

  • Pro Tip: Always scan an intersection from left to right as you approach to ensure no one is running the red light. This is extremely important and is one of the critical aspects of any road test.
  • Never change lanes at an intersection.
  • The first vehicle in line, waiting to turn left should be in the intersection on a solid green light, while keeping the steering wheel straight.
  • Stay in the lane you chose before the turn, as you make your turn. You can change lanes once the turn is completed.

Stay in the lane you chose before the turn, as you make your turn. You can change lanes once the turn is completed.

2018 fatal collision on the Beaverbank Connector – EHS LifeFlight helicopter in Sackville

Red Lights

  • STEADY RED: You can make a right turn at a red light after you come to a stop. 
  • FLASHING RED: Means the same as a STOP sign.

Cameras on, but nobody watching; newly installed cameras used for traffic sensors


Yellow Lights

  • STEADY YELLOW: Be prepared to stop. A steady yellow light means the traffic signal is about to turn red.
  • FLASHING YELLOW: Drive with caution.
  • YELLOW ARROW: The protection of a green arrow will end. If you intend to turn in the direction of the arrow, be prepared to stop.

Yellow lights and committing

  • Stop for a yellow signal unless you are too close to the intersection to stop safely. In that case drive cautiously through the intersection. 
  • Never speed up for a yellow signal to “beat” the red signal. 

Judging Yellow lights

A Complete Introduction to Defensive Driving For Beginners – Part 1


%d bloggers like this: