Lane Discipline

Lane discipline

Lane discipline seems to cause a lot of confusion and indecision on test.

The basics are simple, the first rule for riding on the road is keep left. This doesn’t mean near the the kerb, it just means where there is a choice of lanes preferably take the left hand lane that leads to where you want to go.

The important word is preferably, the examiner would prefer you to be in the left hand lane given the choice. If you have a good reason to use a different lane then use it, if you don’t have a reason to use a different lane then drop safely back into the left hand lane that leads to where you want to go.

Lets look at a few typical test situations.

In the wrong lane ?

Remember that the test is not a navigational test, it is a ride safely test, if you find yourself in a lane that doesn’t lead where you are requested to go you have a simple decision.

Can I safely change lanes to follow the requested route? If the answer is yes then do. If the answer is maybe or no then stay with the lane you are in !

Go the wrong way safely and all that will happen is that the examiner will change the route. You cannot be failed for safely going off the test route.( I some times think examiners like it if you go the wrong way, it must get boring following the same old routes day after day. ! )

Overtaking on a Dual Carriageway

The simplest example is overtaking on a dual carriageway, the decision to start overtaking is covered elsewhere on this site, but once you are clear of the overtaken vehicle then unless you have a good reason for staying in the offside lane move safely back into the near side lane. I am always puzzled as an instructor at just how often learner riders just sit in the outside lane for no reason.

Going straight on at junctions with two or more straight on lanes, typically at traffic lights.

If you join the nearside lane that goes straight on you will probably join the longest queue this is not a problem, follow through the junction as the traffic allows. As and when the traffic merges back into one lane you can show some courtesy and consideration by allowing a vehicle to merge ahead of you. Doing it this way is unlikely to go wrong, and if it does is very unlikely to be your fault.

You could use the offside lane, it would show confidence and make progress. Most of the time when you needed to merge back into the nearside lane you would manage it with out bothering another road user. If you don’t manage a safe merge then you are in danger of failing the test.

So you can see that in this situation you could use either lane but that the near side lane is a better bet if you taking your test.

Bus Lanes

It is increasingly common for bus lanes to be open to bikers. Check out the bus lane sign if there is a motorcycle symbol on the sign then the bus lane is available at any time. If there is no motorcycle symbol then you are only able to use the bus lane lane when it is not in operation. If the bus lane is available then use it on test. There will be more information about bus lanes on this site when I find the time !


Roundabouts are where lane discipline seems to cause the greatest problems, generally because a lot can be going on in a short space of time. I will admit that some local knowledge can be a big help with some ” odd ” roundabouts. Of course your local bike school will know exactly how to tackle your test route roundabouts. Having said that you only really need to remember and put into practise three things.

  1. Remember preferably use the nearside lane that follows your route.

  2. Remember only change lanes if you have time and it is safe.

  3. Remember if you can’t change lane safely then follow the lane you are in.

Remember those three points and everything else will take care of itself !