Prioity at unmarked junctions. Driving in France.


In the blog post before this one I asked a simple question about who has the priority when 3 cars arrive at this junction at the same time?

Remember it is priority to the right on unmarked French road junctions

The point of importance at this junction is that it is unmarked.  There is no Stop or Give Way line.  For the UK, the Highway Code states that:

At an unmarked crossroads no one has priority.  If there are no road signs or markings do not assume that you have priority.  Remember that other drivers may assume they have the right to go.  No type of vehicle has priority but it’s courteous to give way to large vehicles. Also look out in particular for cyclists and motorcyclists.

But this is a French junction and in this case the priority is to the right even when a minor road joins a main road.  Yes, you read that right - Priority to the right even for a minor road joining a major one.

That means, by following this rule, that car 1 has to stop for car 2 but car 2 has to stop for car 3 who, therefore, should be the first car to move.  The problem is, as I have found on a particular junction in Flers on more than one occasion, often car 1 pulls too far forward, across the junction, so car 3 cannot turn into the side road ... and sometimes car 3 pulls too far forward to car 2 can't go anyway to unblock things.  Then everyone either sits there or someone goes (sometimes even car 2 around the back of car 3) hoping no-one else decides to do the same thing at the same time!  Oh and I can assure you on other times car 2 has pulled out even when car 3 had the space to go. 

My advice, therefore, would always be to take it extra slowly at any unmarked junction as you can't be sure everyone knows who should go first.

Generally speaking, unmarked junctions with priority to the right are to be found in towns and on rural back roads.  MOST main roads do not have them and such sections of road will be marked with a yellow diamond to indicate this ... and when priority to the right again takes over again, there will be a yellow diamond sign with a line through it.  I say MOST as I am sure there are main roads where priority to the right still exists and a side junction near us only recently got changed and now has a much safer STOP sign.  On roads where there is no yellow diamond then priority to the right exists and any side roads where this is the case will be marked with a red triangle road sign with a cross like a multiplication sign on it.  This info-graphic explains it all more visually:

French priority to the righ explained

Remember priority only occurs on unmarked junctions - it is not the case where there are Give Way or Stop lines across them.  And to help drivers who think all roads have priority to the right, including roundabouts, you will often see a sign saying Cédez le Passage ie Give Way.

So did you know the priority?  Don't worry if you didn't - a French friend of mine got it wrong!