A guide to one-way roads and systems

Lesson Type
Last updated: 3 Jun 2020

You’ll find one-way roads and systems in most towns and cities across the UK, and it’s possible that you’ll have to drive on them in your driving lessons. One-way systems might seem confusing at first, but as long as you know what road signs and signals to look out for, driving on them will be a breeze - as will your theory test!

Know your road signs

Knowing what different road signs mean is essential for both your theory test and your driving test. Make sure you know exactly what the road signs are telling you before you drive on a one-way road or system.


One-way traffic

One-way roads and systems will be clearly labelled with one-way signs. This is a rectangular or circle blue sign with a white arrow pointing in the correct direction for traffic flow. One-way signs will be positioned at the entry to the one-way system and they will also be placed at intervals along the road.


Two-way traffic

A one-way road will often end with a junction to a two-way road, so it’s important to make sure you recognise when a road goes from one-way to two-way. You will be able to see what kind of road you’re approaching by looking out for road signs as you near the end of the road.

A two-way road sign is a red triangle with a white background and two arrows pointing in opposite directions. If you see this sign at the end of a one-way road, you should prepare to join the two-way road by safely positioning yourself in the correct lane using the MSPSL routine.

no right turn

No right turn/No left turn

If you are approaching the exit of a one-way road, there will usually be a no left turn or no right turn sign, signalling that you can’t turn into the upcoming road.

A no right/left turn sign is a red circle with a white background and gives an order.

no entry

No entry

At the exit to a one-way road there will be a ‘no entry’ sign showing to traffic on the adjoining road. A ‘no entry’ sign is a red circle with a horizontal white rectangle in the centre. This sign is an order which tells you you must not enter the road and is always placed at the exit of a one-way road to tell passing motorists they can’t turn into it.

Lane positioning

One-way systems also have multiple lanes, and knowing which lane to be in can be tricky to get to grips with at first. When driving on a one-way system, remember you can drive on the right hand side of the road if there are multiple lanes and you intend to turn right.

Give yourself enough time to get in the correct lane and make sure you complete the MSPSL routine before changing lanes.

One-way roads in the driving test

You may have to drive on a one-way system on your driving test, and your driving examiner will be looking to see that you can follow road signs and choose the correct lane.

The driving examiner will not try to trick you into taking a one-way road, but they may say something like ‘take the next available right turn’. It’s then up to you to read the road signs and determine which right turn you can and cannot take.

It’s also worth noting that you won’t fail your driving test for being in the wrong lane in a one-way system, as long as you are in the lane safely and legally. Don’t panic if you realise you’re in the wrong lane on your driving test, as changing lanes suddenly can cause you to do so unsafely and may result in your failing your driving test.

Instead, go through the MSPSL routine and check if it is safe to change lanes. If it isn’t, continue in the lane that you’re in until you can safely correct your route. Remember, going the wrong way will not make you fail your driving test, as long as you go the wrong way safely.