Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving



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The shoulder, or verge of a road exists to give some leeway to traffic, however at times can itself be a source of danger.

? Questions:

Dangers Road Shoulder

Crossing shoulder

Be alert to any vehicles crossing the shoulder of a road, be it on a straight section, but even more so on a curve.

Do not assume while traveling on a straight section of road that a driver won’t veer off onto the shoulder.

When encroaching onto the shoulder of a road on the outside of a curve, there is a good chance of a slide being induced.

Entering shoulder

Be aware that the traction on a shoulder could very likely be different to the main road, which could then induce a slide.

Leaving shoulder

Make sure it is safe to exit the shoulder of the road and on the lookout for those oblivious to the dangers of doing so.

Using shoulder

This section has a deeper look into the risks of using the shoulder of the road.


Driving on a shoulder exposes one to certain inherent perils. This section will examine a number of these.

Be on the lookout for those driving along the shoulder of the road and never assume that this area is clear.


Hidden or obscure obstacles are a threat to those risking driving along the shoulder of a road.

? Why do roads have shoulders?

Road shoulders serve several important purposes and provide various benefits. Here are some of the reasons why roads have shoulders:

  • Emergency stopping and breakdowns: Road shoulders provide a designated area for drivers to safely stop in case of emergencies, vehicle breakdowns, or tire blowouts. It allows drivers to move their vehicles out of the traffic flow, reducing the risk of accidents and allowing space for emergency vehicles to access the scene if needed.

  • Pedestrian and cyclist accommodation: Road shoulders can serve as a space for pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely, especially in areas where sidewalks or dedicated bike lanes may not be available. It provides a buffer between the main roadway and pedestrians or cyclists, enhancing their safety by keeping them separate from moving vehicles.

  • Road maintenance and repairs: Shoulders provide a convenient space for road maintenance crews and vehicles to perform repairs, maintenance, and snow clearing operations. Having a dedicated area off the main roadway allows for minimal disruption to traffic flow and enhances the efficiency of maintenance activities.

  • Improved drainage: Road shoulders often have a sloped or graded surface, allowing for effective drainage of rainwater or runoff from the main roadway. This helps prevent water from pooling on the road, reducing the risk of hydroplaning and maintaining better road surface conditions.

  • Additional maneuvering space: Shoulders offer extra space for drivers to safely maneuver their vehicles in certain situations. For example, if a driver needs to pass a slower-moving vehicle or make a right turn, the shoulder can be used temporarily to provide a clear path and maintain smooth traffic flow.

  • Safety buffer: The presence of shoulders provides a physical buffer between the main roadway and surrounding obstacles such as ditches, guardrails, or fixed structures. This helps mitigate the impact of collisions, reducing the severity of accidents and providing additional safety for motorists.

It's important for drivers to use road shoulders appropriately and only when necessary. Drivers should avoid using the shoulder as a travel lane or parking space unless specifically designated for such purposes.

? Can you drive on the shoulder of the road?

In general, driving on the shoulder of the road is not allowed unless there are specific circumstances or designated areas where it is permitted. Here are a few situations where driving on the shoulder might be allowed:

  • Emergency situations: In case of a genuine emergency, such as a medical emergency, vehicle malfunction, or to yield to emergency vehicles, driving on the shoulder may be necessary. However, even in emergencies, it's important to exercise caution and be aware of other road users.

  • Designated lanes or areas: In some cases, roads may have designated shoulder lanes or areas that allow vehicles to use the shoulder for specific purposes, such as high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, bus lanes, or designated exit ramps. These areas are typically marked and have specific rules and restrictions that drivers must follow.

  • Construction or work zones: During road construction or maintenance work, temporary traffic patterns may allow vehicles to use the shoulder as a travel lane. This is usually indicated by signage and temporary markings, and it's important to adhere to the instructions provided.

It's crucial to note that driving on the shoulder outside of these specific situations is generally illegal and unsafe. The shoulder is typically intended for emergency use, pedestrian accommodation, and maintenance activities. Driving on the shoulder when it is not permitted can create hazards, obstruct emergency access, and increase the risk of accidents. Always follow local traffic laws and regulations regarding the use of road shoulders to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving