The Widow Maker

Approach to lights at Queens Park Rd

Be prepared for red or green ?

Welcome to the first in this series of blog posts, highlighting some of the more difficult sections of road on our local test routes. I thought I would start with what I affectionately call THE WIDOW MAKER. I named it the Widow Maker because it really can be a make or break place on one of the Bury Driving test routes.

The Widow Maker is one of those places that for some reason lots of learners and even some experienced drivers think eeeeeek, all it is, is a set of traffic lights placed at the top of a steep hill on the outskirts of Heywood so comes under the jurisdiction of Bury Driving Test Centre.

The key to taking away all the problems in my personal opinion is the approach, you can see the lights shining in the distance from a long, long way away, in fact its probably around a 1/4 of a mile away, so there really is no excuse to not have monitored the length of time they have been on either red or green.

The highest gear you will go around this steep / bend is second gear, so there really is no excuse not to have the speed and gear ready in plenty of time regardless of colour of the traffic lights on approach.

So why do so many people fail their tests here ? There are three main reasons I can think of.

Heywood Hill, Queens Park Road

Queens Road Hill

1: Not having enough confidence and skill to operate clutch control and acceleration to make a smooth set off,  if the lights are or on red, hence stalling and missing the sequence of lights and holding up traffic behind.

2: Racing the lights because you really dont want to have to stop because of reason 1 above, this tends to mean you try and go around in gear three, and that really doesn’t have enough power to get you around the corner without going too wide.

3: Now this one’s sneeky, around 150 metres before the lights the speed limit changes to 40mph (easily missed if you are worrying about the lights), for those that see it all well and good. However it has been known that a perfect approach to the lights and navigating the hill what with the self congratulations and back slapping for doing the hill really well the prospective driver forgets the speed limit is 30 and then goes on to fail their test for driving too slowly on a 40mph road.


So whats the answer ? (To view the short video below in HD , you may need to click the settings icon, bottom left to HD)

The Widow Maker is for many learners something that just needs practice, on this hill and other steeper inclines so as to have the confidence to cope with whatever is ahead be it a steep hill, sharp corner or a reversing bin lorry going the wrong way down a one way street.

I hope you have found this article useful, until next time

Drive Safely

Graham (GDT)

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