As you approach a junction, whether you’re leaving or joining the main road, check your mirror and position yourself towards the side of the road that tells everyone around you the direction in which you’re turning: right side to turn right, and vice versa. That way, others will be less likley to squeeze up your inside or try to overtake.
Here’s the biggest piece of advice for pulling up at a junction and preparing to cross traffic: keep the steering wheel straight with your foot on the brakes until you pull out. Why? Getting rear-ended at a junction is as common as flatulence at a vegan BBQ. If your wheels are turned when you get punted from behind, it will launch you head-on into opposing traffic for an additional, much nastier, shunt. If there’s a car in front, leave enough of a gap to it so that its rear wheels are visible on the tarmac.
There are various reasons I like this drill, so take your pick. Whether you’re just driving locally or around the streets of Johannesburg, the car-jacking capital of the world, maintaining a gap in front of you means keeping your options open so that you can move if you have to. At night it pays to creep slowly up to traffic lights so you spend less time stationary: a moving target is less attractive.
If the car in front breaks down or selects reverse by mistake, you can get around it.
In busy urban areas leaving a gap helps pedestrians to cross. You were once a pedestrian, so you should sympathize with this terrible affliction, and by clearing them away from the junction it will afford you a better view when you come to pull out. Karma works both ways.