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Cockpit Drill (DOC)

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									Cockpit Drill

When you get into a car you need to carry out a series of checks before you can start the engine and drive away, this routine is known as the cockpit drill.
Once seated in the driving seat you have responsibility for the car and any passengers you are carrying.

DOORS: Firstly check that all doors are securely closed.
SEAT: Adjust the seat so that you are seated comfortably and are able to fully depress the clutch pedal with your left foot leaving a slight bend at the knee.
To do this you may need to move the seat base forwards or backwards or even adjust the height of it. The seat back can also be moved forwards or
backwards by turning the seat „rake‟, usually located on the lower sides of the seat back. Don‟t forget to adjust the head „restraint‟ so that it‟s furthest point
forward is in line with the furthest point back of your head. Should the car be hit from behind it will restrict your head being thrown backwards too much.
STEERING: Make sure you can reach all parts of the steering wheel with both hands freely, and whilst holding it in either the ‟ten to two‟ or „quarter to
three‟ position you should have a slight bend at each elbow. Some steering columns can be raised or lowered.
SEATBELT: Put your seatbelt on making sure there are no kinks or twists in it and it lies flat across your chest. This should help prevent the belt injuring
you in the event of an accident.
MIRRORS: Adjust your mirrors to cut down „blind spots‟ surrounding the car. Whilst being seated the way you are intending to drive adjust the rear view
mirror with your left hand so that you can see the whole of the back window, with it being slightly offset to the right to see more to your „offside‟. Be careful
not to get fingerprints on the glass as it will obscure your view once it gets dark and following vehicles headlight illuminate the prints! The glass in the rear
view mirror is flat and gives a true picture of what is behind you without size or distance being distorted. Adjust the door mirrors with the horizon running
horizontally across the centre of the mirror and the sides of your own car should be visible too. This is important so that you know where everything you
see is in relation to you. Door mirror glass is often convex to give a wide angled view but in turn distorts the image making everything seem further away
than it really is. Therefore never use your door mirrors to accurately judge another vehicles speed or distance.

To help you with the cockpit drill, remember D.S.S.S.M.
One final thing, before starting the engine, check the handbrake is on firmly and the gear lever is in neutral. (Some drivers leave the car in gear to prevent
the car rolling away in the event of a handbrake failure)
Moving off
Before you start the engine you need to carry out some precautionary checks. Make sure the handbrake is applied and that the gear lever is in neutral.

To start the engine, turn the key until the warning lights are all displayed. If your car is diesel you may need to wait for the orange coloured glow plug
warning light to go out before starting the engine. Turn the key one more stage and the engine will start. Once started release the key and ensure the oil
and ignition warning lights go out.

     1)    Clutch pedal down fully
     2)    Select 1st gear
     3)    Set the gas and keep it steady
     4)    Slowly bring the clutch up until your either hear the engine tone change or feel the car „jolt‟ slightly. Then keep the pedal still.
     5)    Observations using mirrors and right shoulder blind spot check
     6)    Put on a right signal if there is anyone around who will benefit.
     7)    Release the handbrake.
     8)    If necessary check your right blind spot again.
     9)    Slowly bring the clutch up and the car will begin to move.
     10)   Apply more gas as necessary
     11)   Bring the clutch up fully

As you move away do so at an appropriate speed to join in and keep up with the traffic flow.
Ensure as you move away you are not causing anyone to have to alter their course or speed to avoid you.
Don‟t sit at the side of the road with your right signal flashing. If someone stops to let you out you have in effect caused someone to alter their speed and
so you will be faulted accordingly. Only apply your right signal if necessary when you are actually going to move away.
Once you are moving try to keep your left foot off the clutch pedal. If you are touching it you will be slightly engaging the clutch and it will suffer premature
wear as a result.

Before bringing the car to a stop you will need to select somewhere that is a Safe, Convenient and Legal Place (S.C.A.L.P.).
To give you an idea of where you can‟t stop you should avoid, bus stops, driveways, bends, brows of hills, zig-zag markings, double yellow lines, red
routes, school entrances to name but a few. Use your common sense and ensure traffic can safely pass you.

Use the MSM mirror signal manoeuvre routine.
     1) Check mirrors
     2) Signal if necessary
     3) Guide your car towards the side of the road
     4) Cover the footbrake and clutch
     5) Apply the footbrake gently to start slowing the car.
     6) Just before the car comes to a stop put the clutch down fully and keep it there.
     7) Apply the handbrake (push the button in so it is applied silently and release it to lock handbrake in place)
     8) Select neutral
     9) Cancel signal if it was applied.

Use progressive braking techniques when stopping the car. To do this you need to brake very lightly to start with, and increase the pressure as necessary.
As the car starts to slow right down almost to a stop, you release the pressure, not completely but enough to allow the car to roll on a little to a smooth
stop. If you were to keep the fully applied pressure throughout, the car would come to a sudden halt as you slow, which can feel uncomfortable for you and
your passengers!

When you apply your footbrake, you will illuminate red brake lights at the rear of your car to show following traffic that you are slowing. If you feel that you
need to do this in advance of stopping, it only takes the slightest amount of pressure on the pedal for them to come on.

Try not to put your clutch down too early when stopping, only when you feel that the car is about to start stalling. If you do it too soon the car will be rolling
along for some distance. This is referred to as coasting, the stability of the car is compromised and the brakes have to work much harder to stop the car.

If you are driving along in say 4th gear and you are bringing the car to a stop at the side of the road, there is no need to change down through the gears. In
the good old days drivers were taught to do this for engine braking to help slow the car down. Now cars are much lighter and have more efficient brakes, it
is acceptable and in fact preferred for you to leave the car in whatever gear you are in and just stop. Once you have stopped you can apply the handbrake
and then select neutral.

Hazards and MSPSL

MSPSL stands for Mirrors, Signal, Position, Speed and Look. As a driver you will be doing this all the time whether you are approaching a junction,
roundabout a parked car or even the location of a school.
You may have heard of MSM, Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre? Well it‟s a bit like that, only we are preparing for an actual or potential change in speed or
positioning of our car.

Firstly let‟s look at hazards. Some hazards are actual features of a road like a bend, a brow of a hill, a junction or roundabout etc. Some features are not
always there like parked cars or road works. You might have bad weather affecting the surface of a road like heavy rain, ice, snow or even fallen trees in
strong wind. Some hazards are moving like a cyclist or a pedestrian crossing the road. The list could be huge but there is a routine you can follow when
you identify a hazard to ensure it is negotiated safely.
Mirrors: Firstly check your mirrors, think about what you see and act on it. Do you know what the following vehicles intentions are? Is the following vehicle
considering your own intentions?
Signal: Decide on whether giving a signal will benefit another road user in understanding what you are intending to do. If so, give the signal in good time.
In some circumstances signal timing is crucial if you want to avoid it being misleading.
Position: Having assessed your surroundings decide on the best way to negotiate the hazard. Sometimes you may have to position yourself as to make
your intentions obvious or even comply with road markings or signs.
Speed: Adjust your speed appropriately by either accelerating, decelerating or braking smoothly.
    (Gear: If necessary change to a suitable gear for greater control.)
Look: This is the moment where you will make the final decision as to whether to continue your present course of action or change your plan depending on
what you see. L.A.D.A.
     Assess the situation
    Decide what needs to be done
     Act upon your decision to wait or continue.

The steps below refer to 30mph roads.

Left turn minor to major
     1) MIRROR: On approach check your rear view mirror and left door mirror to check following traffic.
     2) SIGNAL: About 10 car lengths away apply your left signal. Ensure there are no other junctions or major openings on the left before the junction
          as your signal may give the impression you are turning into one of them. If so, delay the signal until you have passed them.
     3) POSITION: Keep to the left and follow the curvature of the kerb so when you come to a stop you are at an angle ready to drive away.
     4) SPEED: Brake progressively on approach to the junction so your speed reduces gradually to avoid harsh braking when nearing the line. Change
          gear if necessary. You should approach all junctions with the intention of stopping and only go when you can see it is actually clear.
     5) LOOK: You will need to look both left and right. Look to the left to see if there are any parked vehicles that will force you to turn onto the other
          side of the road. If so you will need to give way to traffic from the left. There may be parked cars on the opposite side of the road forcing traffic
          from the left to approach you on the wrong side. Again you will need to give way as to avoid a head on collision. When looking right you will
          obviously give way to traffic, but if someone approaches with a left signal to turn into your road and they are close enough to hit you should their
          signal be wrong then wait. Once you see a second sign such as the car slowing heavily or the car actually starting to turn then you will know for
          sure that it is then safe. If the vehicle is large such as a bus or lorry, be aware of vehicles behind it that are obscured from your view. They may
          try and overtake the turning vehicle, and you would be in danger if you are in the process of emerging. If you can‟t see then don‟t go. Think
            ASSESS what you see
            DECIDE what course of action to take
            ACT upon your decision

Right turn minor to major
    1) MIRROR: On approach check your rear view mirror and right door mirror to check following traffic.
    2) SIGNAL: As soon as you have checked your mirrors apply your right signal again checking for junctions or openings before the end of the road.
          Delay signal if necessary.
    3) POSITION: Keep near the centre line of the road you are on, and when you come to a stop keep the car pointing straight forward with your
          wheels straight.
    4) SPEED: Again brake progressively and approach with the intention of stopping and only emerge when safe.
    5) LOOK: Look left and right with the same considerations as above.

Left turn major to minor
     1) MIRROR: On approach, check mirrors
     2) SIGNAL: Signal, again delay as necessary if there are any other openings.
     3) POSITION: Keep to your normal driving position about a metre from the kerb.
     4) SPEED: Brake progressively and reduce your speed, changing gear as necessary. If you are driving fast you would normally change down to
          second gear in order to make the turn. If a gear change is required you must ensure that as soon as the change is made you bring the clutch
          back up. If the clutch is left depressed the car will be rolling (coasting) and if left in this state you may find the car uncontrollable as you try and
          turn. Ideally your speed will be about 10mph as you make the turn.
     5) LOOK: Look into the new road to see if it is safe to turn into, if the road is narrow with parked cars you may have to wait for another car to
          emerge before you yourself can turn into it. If pedestrians are already in the process of crossing the road you will have to give way to them.

Right turn major to minor
    1) MIRROR: On approach, check mirrors
    2) SIGNAL: Signal, delaying if necessary.
    3) POSITION: Position near to the centre of the road. You will need to give way to oncoming traffic. If you do have to come to a stop, try not to let
          the front of the car go beyond the centre of the road you are turning into as you may make it very difficult to negotiate (Overshoot). Also ensure
          you keep your car straight with the wheels kept straight, that way should you be hit from behind your car will be pushed forward. Sitting with your
          car at an angle or with the wheels turned can be dangerous. If you were hit, you would be pushed across the road head on into whatever vehicle
          is approaching you! If you are waiting to turn and not sure if you have time, ask yourself if you would have time to walk across the road, if so you
          would have time to drive it. Assuming that there are no approaching vehicles to wait for and you are free to turn, you must not turn too early and
          „cut the corner‟, crossing over the centre line of the road you are turning into. To avoid this wait until the front of your car is nearly level with
          middle of the new road and turn. The main thing is, look into the road you are turning into and look where you want the car to go, and you will put
          the car in that place.
    4) SPEED: If free to turn, again use second gear and do so about 10mph or as necessary.
    5) LOOK: As above assess the new road.

If the roads are faster than 30mph you would need to start the process earlier, as it more about how much time you have to show your intentions as
opposed to how far from a junction you are.
As stated above, approach a give way line with the intention of stopping and only go when you can see it is safe. That way if you can‟t see then you are not
going to pull out and endanger anyone. Your approach to the junction would also be very smooth and planned. Once you start thinking the opposite and
approaching junctions with the intention of just going and only stopping if you see traffic will cause problems. Firstly your observations will be poor and
should you see traffic you will most likely then brake very heavily, affecting your positioning and possibly resulting in your car being rear ended.

Junctions with limited visibility are referred to as „closed‟ junctions. Those that have a clear view in both directions well before you reach a give way line are
called „open‟ junctions. Open junctions are usually the ones you can emerge from without stopping if clear because you can make that decision earlier on
your approach.
Some junctions have such limited visibility they will be marked with a STOP line and STOP sign. You are required by law to completely stop before
emerging. On a test it is a good idea to apply the handbrake to prove you have actually stopped, it removes any doubt as to whether you stopped
completely or not.

Not so common now are unmarked junctions. An unmarked junction is one without any road markings. Never assume you have priority, it is best practice
to assume you are the one giving way before proceeding.

It‟s not essential for you to apply the handbrake every time you stop at a junction. When you first learn to drive, you will most likely do it every time for
practice and better control. Once you are proficient with the controls of the car, then you can decide whether the junction necessitates the use of the
handbrake. Apply the handbrake if there is the possibility of the car rolling backwards or you are waiting for more than 3-4 seconds for traffic, or for the
sake of pedestrians or other vehicles around you to make the situation safer.

When turning left, remember that the rear wheels take a shorter route than the front, so if you are too close to the kerb the rear wheel may mount or strike

When emerging from a junction you are not to cause another road user to have to change course or adjust their speed to avoid you. Once you have
emerged check your rear view mirror to see what is behind you. A fast approaching car will mean more urgency with your acceleration to get up to speed.

Failing a test for lack of observation at a junction is in the top ten of faults on a national scale. Probably because test candidates feel they need to be quick
at a junction like most other drivers. There are so many accidents around junctions because most people don‟t take enough care at them!! Play it safe and
check properly before emerging. In fact, failing to look properly is a factor in over a third of all traffic collisions.


Moving away from the side of the road uphill isn‟t really anything you should worry about as long as you prepare for the extra burden of gravity acting upon
the vehicle before you release the handbrake. Gravity will make the car seem „heavier‟, so the engine has to work harder to get the car moving. You also
need to use your clutch to good effect to stop the car stalling or rolling back. Here‟s how:

1) Clutch down.
2) Select 1st gear.
3) Set the gas, the steeper the hill the more gas you need.
4) Find the biting point, then keep your foot still. (tip look for the bonnet to rise slightly, if the bonnet rises the car is trying to go forwards. As long as you
keep it like that you shouldn’t roll backwards once you release the handbrake).
5) All round observations including mirrors.
6) Signal if necessary.
7) Start to release the handbrake.
8) Final blind spot check/observations
9) As you fully disengage the handbrake, return your hand to the steering wheel and bring the clutch up slowly and the car will move forward.
10) Listen to the engine as you are bringing the clutch up, if it is dying apply more gas to compensate.

Moving downhill is much easier as the car wanting to roll forward will aid you moving away. The use of the footbrake is to enable you to control the rate at
which the car moves away.
1) Clutch down.
2) Select 1st gear or even 2nd on some slopes.
3) Depress the footbrake fully.
4) Release the handbrake.
5) All round observations including mirrors.
6) Signal if necessary.
7) Final blind spot check/observations.
8) Release the footbrake (slowly if you want to move away slowly!)
9) Clutch up as the car moves away (Don’t take too long as the car may start to roll faster and faster (coasting)).

Because it is possible for handbrakes to fail there are ways in which you can prevent your car from rolling away whilst you leave it parked.

Pointing uphill with a kerb on your left.
Leave wheels turned to the right pointing into the road, if the car was to roll the front left tyre will be stopped by the kerb and the car will stay in still.
Leaving the car in 1st gear will also prevent the car from rolling backwards. Ensure you put it into neutral before starting the engine!
Pointing downhill with a kerb on your left.
Leave wheels turned left pointing towards the kerb, if the car was to roll the front left tyre will be stopped by the kerb, and the car will stay still. Leaving the
car in reverse gear will prevent it from rolling forward. Once again you must ensure you put the gear into neutral before starting the engine!

Bearing in mind what has been said above, gears and wheels being chocked are no substitute for your handbrake, which should be fully engaged and in
good working order. Many drivers leave cars in gear, which is why you should always check it is in neutral as part of your precautionary checks before
starting the engine. It‟s also best to check the handbrake first, if the gear really is holding the car still without the handbrake being fully applied the car will
roll as you pull it out of gear and into neutral.!!!

Roundabouts are designed to keep traffic flowing, usually giving each road leading up to it an equal priority.
On approach to a roundabout use your MSPSL routine. It is important that you keep correct position as you negotiate a roundabout and signal your
intention clearly so other road users understand where you want to go. This will ensure the roundabout flows smoothly and efficiently.
On approach check signage and road markings, which may dictate that you use a certain lane for a particular exit.
Remember you must give way to traffic from your right.
Here is a general guide.
Turning left 1st exit
MSPSL, using the left lane with a left signal. Once you have given priority to cars on your right and you drive on, check the road you are turning into is clear
and proceed. Leave your signal on until you have exited.
Going straight on/intermediate exits
MSPSL, with no signal. Position yourself in the most suitable lane, again check for road markings. As you negotiate the roundabout maintain your position
in the same lane you approached in until you need to alter course to exit. As you pass the exit directly before the exit you wish to take, signal left. If you
were guided to use the middle or right hand lane, remember to check your left mirror for traffic, which may be on your left side.
Turning right or going full circle
MSPSL with a right signal, selecting the right hand lane or as guided by road markings. Maintain your course in the same lane you approached in until you
need to alter your course to exit. As you pass the exit directly before yours signal left. Remember to check for vehicles, which may be on your left side.

Usually you will need to change down to 2nd or 3rd gear to negotiate a roundabout if there is no requirement to stop. Try and time your arrival at the
roundabout to coincide with a gap. The busier the roundabout looks, the slower you need to approach to again arrive at a suitable gap. If this is not
possible, then approach to stop.
If you are behind a car make sure when they move forward you see them drive away before deciding to go yourself. A common incident at roundabouts is
when a driver thinks the car in front has gone, when in fact it has only moved forward, and the driver behind then tries to go only to hit the stationary vehicle
in front of them!
It really is important that you approach a roundabout at a speed suitable to be able to read what is going on and make a decision as to whether it is safe to
go or not. Usually the slower you approach, the more likely you are to be able to go. Driving on to a roundabout too fast cutting in front of cars is
dangerous, but so is stopping at a roundabout if there is no traffic and is clear to proceed. If the driver behind can see it is clear, they will not be expecting a
car in front to stop. You can imagine what would then be likely to happen.

Mini roundabouts
Mini roundabouts are usually painted on the road surface or are slightly raised. This is usually to allow large or long vehicles to pass over it, if they are
having difficulty negotiating it. The same rules apply to mini roundabouts as they would any other.
The limited space means that you may not always have time to signal your intention to exit.
Ideally there shouldn‟t be more than one vehicle at a time on a mini roundabout. If it is a double mini roundabout, treat each mini roundabout as a separate
one. Try not to enter the first roundabout if your entrance to the second one is blocked by a waiting vehicle.
Be cautious at mini roundabouts, even some experienced drivers can get confused and see a mini roundabout as a junction instead!! This often results in
them driving across your path or sitting and waiting when they have priority to go!!

Pedestrian crossings
There are four types of pedestrian crossing, a zebra, pelican, puffin and a toucan. Approaching any type of crossing can be hazardous as the need to stop
can be at short notice and drivers behind may be too close or not as quick at reacting as you. On approaching any type of crossing it is important to
observe the situation behind you by checking your mirrors in preparation of being required to stop at such short notice. Think about what you see and act
accordingly. Will the following driver stop in time if you do? Would it help to reduce your speed a little? Is anyone waiting to use the crossing? Is the grip
your tyres have on the road surface compromised by rainwater? There are many factors that can affect your approach to a crossing and the whole situation
needs to be assessed.
Crossings usually have zig-zag lines on the road surface leading up to and away from the crossing. This is called the controlled area. You are not allowed
to overtake or park within the controlled area. Doing so is a serious traffic offence and you can be fined as well as having points endorsed on your licence.
Parking on zig-zag markings can obscure another drivers view on approach to the crossing which endangers people who may be already on a crossing or
about to cross. Always keep crossings clear, even if you are in very slow moving traffic, if the traffic stops, don‟t stop on the crossing itself, keep it clear.
When you stop at a crossing apply your handbrake to secure the car. Try not to rev your engine, as pedestrians may feel intimidated. Don‟t wave
pedestrians to cross as you may endanger them if another car is approaching. Wait until the crossing is clear before you continue.
Pelican crossing
Pelican crossings are controlled by pedestrians who having once pushed a button, will activate a set sequence of lights which will stop the approaching
traffic. The sequence would be green, steady amber, red, flashing amber, green.
Green – Traffic proceeds as normal
Steady amber – Stop if it is safe to do so
Red – Stop
Flashing amber – Go if the crossing is now clear
Green – Traffic proceeds as normal
The amber light can be confusing if the crossing comes into your view half way through a sequence, is it changing to red, or going to green???
A simple way of remembering the meaning of the amber is the steady amber light is like a firm hand being held up to say stop. A flashing amber light is like
a hand beckoning you to proceed!!
Puffin crossing
Puffin crossings will look identical to a pelican crossing apart from sensors sitting on top of the light column. The sensors can keep track of pedestrians and
traffic approaching. Once a pedestrian pushes the button the lights would turn to red as they do a pelican crossing. The lights will continue to stay on red
halting the traffic, until the crossing has been cleared of pedestrians. Rather than a flashing amber light being given for you as a driver to make a decision
to proceed, the crossing will show a red and amber light together for you to prepare, and you would then drive on when the green light shows.
The sequence would be green, steady amber, red, red and amber, green.
The idea of such crossings are to prevent traffic being held up on a red light once the crossing is clear, and also to help protect pedestrians who may find it
difficult to cross without the danger of drivers moving on whilst they are still crossing.
Toucan crossing
Toucan crossings again will be similar to a pelican and puffin crossing. The difference is that there will be also a cycle lane that can cross from one side of
the road to the other allowing cyclists to use the crossing too. There is often a post with a button for the cyclists to use. You can remember this crossing by
saying “two-can cross at the same time” (toucan). As with the puffin crossing there is no flashing amber phase.
Zebra crossings
Zebra crossings can be identified by the black and white stripes you can see on the road. There will also be orange flashing beacons on black and white
striped posts. The beacons will flash all the time and a pedestrian will merely approach the crossing to use it. Take care when approaching a zebra
crossing, as there are no extra warnings to tell you to stop. You will need to identify whether pedestrians are passing by or wishing to cross. If it is obvious
the crossing is going to be used slow down and stop. Do not continue until the crossing is completely clear.
Other crossings
School crossing patrols will hold up a circular sign saying stop for children. You must obey the sign and only drive on when instructed by the patrol. There
are sometimes flashing amber lights on approach to such crossings attached to a warning sign. Railway level crossings are a major hazard, there are
different types with differing signs and markings. Never cross one unless your exit is clear, if in doubt, hold back!

Emergency stop
Not everyone is asked to do an emergency stop on a driving test. Roughly 1 in 3 tests are required to do one, but nevertheless you should perfect the art of
stopping in an emergency, as the need is sure to arise at some point. If you are required to do one on test, the examiner will ask you to stop at the side of
the road first to explain what they would like you to do. They may say something like “In a short while I will ask you to stop as you would in an emergency,
the signal I shall give will be stop…(raised hand in the air), when I do this, stop the car as quickly as you can and in full control”. Then do as follows.

Drive as you normally do, don‟t drive along really slow in anticipation. Obviously there shouldn‟t be any cars following you and the examiner may or may
not look over their shoulder out the back to double check. When the command is given don‟t check the mirrors as there is no time, keep both hands on the
steering wheel and brake firmly. As the weight of the car is thrown forward the steering will become heavy and harder to control. Just before the car
completely stops put the clutch down to prevent the car stalling. You don‟t want to put the clutch down too early, as it is good for the „engine braking‟ to
assist the footbrake (I will explain engine braking shortly). When the car has stopped completely put the handbrake on, select neutral and wait. The
examiner will then ask you to drive on when you are ready. Prepare the car to go, check over your left shoulder (you may be far away from the kerb
allowing room for bikes to pass on the left), check mirrors and then over your right shoulder. If it is safe, drive away. If a car is approaching you when you
check around and it looks like they will overtake you, stay put, check again and drive on when safe. Once you are moving the examiner may say something
like “Thank you, I will not ask you to do that again”.

When stopping the car in an emergency you need to brake firmly and progressively to slow the wheels as quickly as possible, almost to the point where the
wheels may lock but not enough for it to actually happen. If you do lock the wheels and you skid it will take longer to stop. If you are skidding it may be
necessary to release the footbrake for a split second and re-apply them. Hopefully the second time round you won‟t skid! If the road is wet or you are on
gravel the wheels may lock up sooner as the tyre loses grip, so the braking pressure may not be as hard as on a good firm dry surface. If you are driving
on mud, snow or ice where it is virtually impossible to brake firmly, you may have to pump the brakes, quickly braking-releasing-braking-releasing and
braking again, each time the car slows a little. This is known as cadence braking and is an extreme form of braking.

Some cars are equipped with ABS, which is an Anti-locking Braking System. Basically if you brake extremely hard a sensor triggers the system into
applying and releasing the brakes very, very fast. The point of which, means, that the wheels should not „lock-up‟ as described above. The ABS being
triggered has a distinctive noise, if you hear it don‟t release the pressure on the brake as the system is just doing it‟s job. It doesn‟t mean you can stop any
quicker than a car without ABS but will enable you to steer whilst braking heavily. It is possible for a car even with ABS to lose grip if the surface driven on
is very slippery or loose. You should be guided by your vehicle‟s handbook, or manual as to what kind of braking system you have and what type of braking
style should be applied.
If the rear wheels of a car lose grip the car may actually start to slide sideways as the rear of the car tries to „overtake‟ the front which is braking with better
effect. Try and steer into the skid, so if the rear is going to your right, steer right a little. Try not to steer too much as you are likely to over correct and spin
the other way!

Engine braking
You have your handbrake, which basically pulls the rear brakes on to stop the car rolling away when your stationary. You have your footbrake as described
above. There is another kind of braking called „engine braking‟. Have you noticed that when you take your foot off the gas pedal, the car starts to slow?
Well when you do this, the fuel supply is reduced to the engine so it slows down, and slows the car along with it. This is why if you are on a downhill slope
and you engage a „low gear‟, the engine helps hold the car back from rolling faster and faster. If you put the clutch down which disconnects the engine from
the „drivetrain‟, the engine braking is lost, and the car will freewheel and roll faster (don‟t do it!). This known as coasting, your brakes need to work harder to
stop the car too. When we slow or stop a car whether gradually, or in an emergency, the engine braking contributes a great deal in stabilising the car and
helping it to slow in a controlled way.

The Driver
When cars are out of control it‟s generally down to driver error. Learn how to recognise factors, which will affect either you or the handling of the car.
Driving whilst tired or under the influence of drink or drugs is quite simply going to affect your reactions or ability to assess the road ahead, and is basically
illegal. Some medicines carry warnings too, stating that you must not drive if you taking that particular medication. If your reactions are not up to their usual
speed, for example maybe you have a cold, recognise it and adjust your speed to give you more time to react. That way you can avoid having to stop in an
emergency in the first place. If your reactions are seriously affected for any reason, then don‟t drive at all!
With regards to car handling, think about the road and weather conditions. Look at the roads surface and think about how your grip could be compromised.
Think about how rain and ice affect the distances needed to stop. Look at the slope or camber of a road, will the car try and slide in a particular direction if
you were to brake hard? Is there a lot of pedestrian activity either side of the road, or cars trying to pull out of blind junctions?
Sometimes other people will force you into taking some action to avoid an accident. If your looking for the clues of what is likely to happen next, and drive
at a speed so that you can stop in the distance clear ahead, identify whether the road surface is going to affect your braking ability, you can avoid most
„emergency stop‟ situations in the first place by being ready.

Stopping distances
If you are having trouble remembering stopping distances as quoted in the highway code there is a simple formula to work them out.
Firstly there is the „thinking distance‟, which is the distance that your vehicle will travel in the time it will take you to see a hazard and then actually start to
brake. Our reaction times are usually between 0.5 to 1 seconds, but realistically, other factors can make them longer! Generally you will travel about the
same number of feet as miles per hour that you are driving. So, if you are travelling at 40mph you will travel about 40ft from seeing the hazard to actually
engaging the brake.
We then have the „braking distance‟. This distance is based on how far the average car would travel with the brakes engaged before coming to a complete
stop. To work this out you will need to times the mph travelled by a steadily increasing figure (@), for example:
20mph 20 X 1 = 20 ft (feet)
30mph 30 X 1.5 = 45 ft
40mph 40 X 2 = 80 ft
50mph 50 X 2.5 = 125 ft
60mph 60 X 3 = 180 ft
70mph 70 X 3.5 = 245 ft
By adding your Thinking Distance and Braking Distance together you will find the „Total Stopping Distance‟.
Example 50mph          50ft TD + 125ft BD = 175ft TSD
Don‟t forget wet surfaces can double your stopping distance and ice and snow can increase it by up to 10 times.
Distances below are in feet. To convert to metres 10ft=3metres.
MPH Thinking distance + Braking distance = Total stopping distance
20                  20                  20                        40
30                  30                  45                       75
40                  40                  80                       120
50                  50                 125                       175
60                  60                 180                       240
70                  70                 245                       315


Keeping a safe distance
If every single driver was to keep a more than adequate distance from the vehicle in front of them at all times, the amount of traffic accidents could be
reduced dramatically. As you have probably noticed, drivers fail to keep a safe distance and as a result, a rear end collision is a common sight. There are
ways to protect yourself from causing a rear end collision, or being involved in one.

The two second rule
If you keep at least a two second gap between you and the vehicle in front, you can reduce the chances of a collision, should the vehicle in front brake
sharply. You might ask why would the vehicle in front brake sharply if the road before them appears clear? Who knows, anything can happen and you have
no idea how the driver in front might react. They may overreact to a situation before them, or misread a situation and brake harshly. If you were to see the
situation set before them without the overreaction, it might be too late, and a collision inevitable. Keep at least two seconds back and reduce the chances.
How to do the two second rule. When you are following a vehicle, look for something stationary at the roadside or on the road itself that you can use as a
marker. A signpost or road marking is ideal. As the vehicle before you passes the marker say, “Only a fool breaks the two second rule”. As it takes about
two seconds to say this, if you pass the marker before you have finished this sentence, you are too close. Fall back and try again. You should be able to
say the sentence before passing the marker. If the road surface is wet, you will need to double the gap and say it twice, leaving a four second gap.
If you are driving a fully laden vehicle, or a large vehicle or perhaps towing a trailer or caravan, you would need to compensate even more as it will be
harder for you to stop.
Have you also considered that by leaving a suitable gap between you and the vehicle in front, it will help drivers behind you should they wish to overtake?
The gap before you would allow a following vehicle a space to overtake you and take refuge, before overtaking the next vehicle. When drivers fail to leave
gaps, it forces drivers who wish to overtake to try and pass many vehicles at a time creating a dangerous situation.
When you are driving at less than 20mph, the two second rule is not as effective. Leave at least one car length for every 5 mph you are driving.
The tailgater
There will be occasions where no matter how fast you are going the driver behind will still want to go faster. If you too are following a vehicle, it can be
frustrating as to why a driver behind you, can‟t see for themselves that your own progress is hindered, and keep their distance. If you are keeping your two
second rule, you should be able to stop, but the vehicle following you will most likely be unable to resulting in your car being rear ended.
For a start try not to get worked up and brake in aggression, other than being dangerous it will aggravate the following driver who incidentally may not even
be aware of the danger they are causing, whether it be due to ignorance or just lack of awareness. Just try to increase the gap in front of you to
compensate for the driver behind you. Should the vehicle in front brake harshly, you won‟t have to brake as hard, and therefore it should also allow the
following driver to slow without losing control. The extra space in front of you may allow the following driver to overtake you thus eradicating the problem
completely! If a driver in front of you is tailgating someone else, still leave a bigger gap in front as the chances of an accident ahead are increased and will
allow you more time to take action.

Tyres on tarmac, escape route.
When you stop behind a vehicle, leave enough room to be able to pull out and go around the vehicle in front should it fail to move away due to breaking
down. It can happen, and if everyone is nose to tail then it‟s gridlock, and will necessitate the driver at the back of the queue to reverse followed by
everyone else, you can imagine the mayhem! When you leave an adequate gap you should be able to see the rear tyres of the vehicle in front in contact
with the tarmac. There are other reasons for this gap. If an emergency vehicle approaches from behind, it will leave enough room for you to move forward
and to the side without having to wait for the vehicle in front to move forward too. If you are unfortunate to be hit from behind, it will reduce the chances of
you hitting the car in front of you. Less people involved and less damage to your car.

Turn in the road
Firstly make sure you are on a road wide enough to perform the manoeuvre within your ability. Is the location safe and lawful? Ensure there are no
obstructions at the kerbsides such as trees or lampposts that you may collide with. You need a clear unobstructed view of the road in both directions. This
will also ensure that you too will be seen by approaching traffic.
Remember that it up to you to give way to any traffic that approaches, they may want to drive past without stopping. Also give way to pedestrians that are
using the pavement in front of you or behind you, never drive towards people.
The secret to this manoeuvre is SLOW speed and FAST steering.
Step 1:
Prepare the car in first gear.
All round observations.
If safe, use clutch control to move forward slowly.
Steer quickly to the right to achieve full lock.
As you go over the „crown‟ of the road you may feel the car start to roll down the camber, if so, clutch down and gently use the footbrake to control the
As you near the opposite kerb steer left to straighten the wheels. This reduces the amount of work you need to do on the reverse and also reduces the
possibility of damage to power steering motors.
Stop the car before you hit or overhang the kerb.
If necessary, apply the handbrake.
Step 2:
Prepare the car in reverse gear.
All round observations.
If safe, look over your left shoulder out the rear window.
Reverse back slowly steering left.
Again as you pass over the crown of the road you may feel the car roll down the camber, if so, clutch down and use the footbrake as necessary.
Once over the „crown‟ look right and steer right.
Stop the car before you hit or overhang the kerb.
If necessary, apply the handbrake.

Step 3:
Prepare the car in first gear.
All round observations
If safe, drive away.
If you find yourself getting close to the kerb as you drive away don‟t risk striking it, repeat steps 2 & 3 again.
In terms of a driving test you won‟t fail if you need to correct your manoeuvre by repeating steps 2 & 3 so don‟t be afraid to do it if necessary, it‟s better than
hitting the kerb!
Never beckon other drivers to pass, let them decide for themselves on which course of action to take, but remember, you are giving way to them.
Keep a good look out for other road users at all times.


Reversing into a parking bay
Why reverse into a bay when you can drive forward into one?
When driving forward into a bay there is the possibility of striking the side of a parked car as you swing in, and also the risk of the side of your car hitting
the corner of a parked car as the rear wheels take a shorter route than the front! There is also the danger of reversing back out when your view is
There are two ways of performing this manoeuvre depending on how much space is available.
Method 1:
Position yourself so that you are 90* to the parking bays. Let‟s assume you are reversing to the left.
Secure the car, select reverse gear, your white reversing lights will then show your intentions.
All round observations.
Reverse back slowly, when you feel that the back of your vehicle is level with a white line steer left full lock.
As the car swings round check to your right to ensure no cars are trying to drive past, also keep a look out for pedestrians.
Check where the car is heading.
After a short while you will see the left side white line appear in the left door mirror followed by the right hand line in your right door mirror.
Adjust your steering accordingly to put the car equally between the lines.
When the lines appear parallel straighten.
Check all around for pedestrians as you reverse the car in to the space fully.
When finished secure the car.
Method 2:
Select a space you wish to reverse into, let‟s assume it‟s again on the left.
As you approach it and the front of the car draws level with it, steer to the right to turn away from it.
You should then be able to look out of the rear window and see the space directly behind the car.
Secure the car and select reverse.
All round observations.
Reverse back slowly steering as necessary to put the car equally between the lines.
Check your door mirrors for accuracy but keep a constant all round look out for cars and pedestrians.
When the car is fully in the space, secure the car.
Door mirrors are convex to give a wide angled view. This can „bend‟ images and give misleading information on your true position. Check both door mirrors
not just one, and get a balance of the two images you see.
All round observations throughout are paramount.
In terms of a driving test it won‟t matter too much if the car is at an angle within the lines.
You must be between the lines with none of your wheels touching them.
If you can see the car is going to end up on a line, move forward a good distance and reverse back again. You won‟t fail for doing this.
Remember that even a small amount of steering when reversing will cause the front of the car to swing out possibly over a line.
Although the door mirrors are ideal for checking your position, remember that is all you want to do with them, is „check‟.
You should be keeping a look out all around you and actually look at where you are going. Don‟t rely solely on the mirrors.
Parallel Parking
For the purposes of a driving test you will reverse behind a single parked car and you will be given two car lengths to complete the manoeuvre in. You
won‟t usually be asked to park between two parked cars. If in reality you were to park between cars you would need at least one and a half car lengths to
do it in safely.
Parallel parking is classed as the same manoeuvre as reversing into a car parking space, so it is unlikely you will have these two manoeuvres together in
any given driving test.
1 Once asked to perform the manoeuvre approach the parked car just as you would if you were intending to drive past it. Check your mirrors to see if
anyone is following. If there is a car following some distance behind you or driving towards you, you might be best to apply a left signal to show your
intentions. Try and draw up alongside the parked car about an arms length away and with your left door mirror roughly level with the front of the parked car.
This is just to ensure you are positioned more forward than the parked car to maximise the use of space you have behind it.
2 Once in this position select reverse gear as soon as possible to illuminate your rear white reversing lights and then apply the handbrake. Anyone
approaching you from behind should then realise that you need some space and leave a suitable gap for you.
3 All round observations. Make sure there are no approaching vehicles.
Look over your left shoulder and reverse slowly. Just as the rear of your car starts to pass the back of the parked car, steer left (11 o‟clock). Remember as
you steer left your front offside will swing out into the road so check your offside blind spot as you steer. Give way to any cars that are intending to drive
It might not be safe to steer full lock, as you will swing out wide.
4 The best angle to approach the kerb is about 45*, it sounds technical but just look out of the back window and watch the kerb go across it. When the kerb
disappears you will be at about the correct angle of approach so now straighten your wheels. The car will now be heading for the kerb and may start to roll
fast if there is a steep camber on the road.
5 Now the hard part, if we steer right too early you will be too far from the kerb. Too late and you might end up on it!! Reverse back and try and judge when
your passenger is in line with the driver‟s side of the parked car, just as you would if you were looking down the side of a car trying to look for small dents in
the doors. When you feel that your passenger is in such a position you are about the right distance from the kerb to steer right full lock. The front of the car
will swing in towards the kerb.
6 Whilst looking out of the rear window where you are going, keep a check on your left door mirror to see if your back wheel is going to hit the kerb. When
you are becoming parallel with the kerb straighten your wheels. Remember that when you have the steering on full lock, the wheels stick out quite a lot and
will strike the kerb if not „tucked in‟ in time by straightening them. Once straight secure the car with you handbrake and select neutral.
Keep your speed to a minimum. When performing this manoeuvre for the first few times students tend to go too fast and end up hitting the kerb. You really
need accurate clutch control for the first stage and feathered braking with the clutch down for the second stage where the car tends to roll quickly.

If your rear nearside wheel is going to hit the kerb then stop the car. You are allowed to move the car forward and reverse again, you will not fail for doing
this. To make a correction, apply the handbrake so you don‟t roll back, select first gear and find the bite. Check all around and move forward a few feet and
straighten your wheels then stop. Select reverse gear, check around and reverse back again (most likely letting the car roll slowly if on a sloping camber).
Steer to the right again as fast as you can, full lock. This is giving you a second chance again to park the right distance from the kerb.

If instead when you originally park you are going to be too far from the kerb, you need to spot it early and straighten your wheels to put the car closer to it,
before steering right full lock again to put yourself parallel to it.
If there are any pedestrians on the pavement walking by, stop and wait until they are clear of the space behind you. Never reverse towards people.
I can‟t stress enough how important it is to keep a look out for approaching cars and pedestrians and to look in the direction you are travelling.

If you are having problems with remembering which way to steer, remember
„Lovely Red Roses‟ for Left, Right, Right.


Left reverse
Left reverse is basically reversing around a corner into a road. On a test the examiner will usually ask you to stop at the side of the road just before the
road in question. The examiner will point out the road they would like you to reverse into, and ask you to drive past it and stop, then to reverse back into the
road, for some distance keeping reasonably close to the kerb.

Prepare the car in first gear, observations and move away when safe. As you drive past the junction look into the road to assess the kerb line and any
hazards within the road itself. Check your mirrors to see if you need to signal to pull in, if so do it once past the centre of the road in question as so to make
it obvious you wish to stop after the junction and not turn into it.
Stop the car about one or two car lengths away from the corner.
Secure the car and then prepare the car in reverse. All round observations and reverse back when safe. Try and look in the direction of travel and not
solely with your door mirror!
Identify where the corner starts, look for the kerbstone that starts to curve into the road. This is called the point of turn.
Reverse until your rear nearside wheel is level with it. Now it is time to turn, and is called the critical point. When you steer the front offside corner of the car
will swing out into the road and is a danger to other road users. You must check your right blind spot especially at this point. You don‟t have to stop as such
but I would advise it. That way you can assess your surroundings without losing your positioning.
If it‟s safe then continue reversing and steer. I can‟t give you an amount of turns to steer as all cars will differ with steering turns and the amount of lock
they have (11 o‟clock in our training car). The best thing to do is to look through the windows on your left and look at where the kerb appears to „meet‟ the
side of the window you see it in. let‟s say for example the kerb appears to be in the very corner of the rear nearside window.
Steer enough to keep the kerb in the very same place you first saw it. If you keep it in the same place you are following it perfectly. If the kerb moves away
from it‟s original position, you may be going astray.
Even if you do this accurately the kerb will at some point disappear from the side window and shortly reappear in the back window. Use this short time to
check your progress in the nearside door mirror and make any necessary adjustments.
When the kerb appears in the rear window watch it move across it towards the centre of it. When it reaches the centre of the rear window, straighten your
wheels and keep the kerb again in the same place and you will be following it keeping parallel to the kerb. Better still, look out the rear window and look at
where the car is actually heading, as you would using the windscreen when going forward!!
Reverse back for three to four car lengths or until told to stop. Try not to block anyone‟s driveway if selecting where to stop by yourself. Leaving this
amount of room in front of you will allow any cars from behind you to approach the junction and be able to get into the correct position to turn left or right.
Once you stop, secure the car and await instructions.
When you drive away remember to check all around before you go, a common fault!
Whilst doing all this you should be keeping a constant lookout for approaching traffic. When other vehicles get close you need to stop and make eye
contact with the driver. They will then know it‟s safe to proceed. Remember you are the one giving way. If a car approaches you from behind, stop for a
moment and stare out of the rear window. Realising your intentions, some drivers will go around you and then you can continue. If the vehicle stays put,
you will have to exit the road and pull in to let the vehicle in question pass by and do the whole manoeuvre again.

Reversing around a corner using mirrors alone is a dangerous practice as your observations are so limited. The examiner will be looking for you to look in
the direction of travel for the majority of the manoeuvre whilst checking all around frequently. There is no harm in checking your nearside mirror as long as
you don‟t just stare at it the whole time! Some kerbs may curve in such a way that you can‟t actually see where you are going and will need to check the
mirror more often. You need to compensate for this by looking around you even more frequently. As you can imagine your speed will need to be very slow
in order to cram all this in!!


If you get confused which way to steer, just think to yourself, „to move towards the kerb, steer towards the kerb‟. „To move away from the kerb, steer away
from the kerb‟.
If you are heading towards the kerb and it‟s looking like your going to hit it, then straighten your wheels to avoid it. You can always re apply your steering
again if you have overreacted. Whatever you do, don‟t straighten and then continue to steer right to make the rear of the car go out into the road. You will
simply swing the front of the car towards the kerb and strike it with your front nearside wheel, which will be sticking out considerably.
If you do straighten and are still on a collision course with the kerb then stop. Select first gear, check it‟s safe and move forward several feet steering
slightly to the left. Then select reverse, check all around and reverse again, this time trying not to repeat the same error as before! By steering left as you
went forward you will find that the car has „come away‟ from the kerb. You will not fail a test for moving forward to correct the manoeuvre.

Right reverse
This manoeuvre is similar to the left reverse but with some positioning differences, so I will keep this section brief assuming you have understood the left
reverse in full. Observations will generally be the opposite to what they were with left reverse.

If you are driving a van or a vehicle with restricted rear view it is easier to reverse into an opening on the right as you will be near the kerb offering you a
better viewpoint of it and any approaching traffic. It might even be that there are no roads on the left to use!

Starting as with the left reverse you will identify a road on the right. On approach position yourself near the centre of the road as you would if turning right.
You will need to signal your intention to move over to the right hand side of the road, but not until you have passed the centre of the road on the right, or it
may appear to others that you are turning right. Once you do this, ensuring that there is no oncoming traffic or traffic behind overtaking, move over to the
right hand side of the road near to the kerb and stop a few car lengths away from the junction you wish to reverse into.

Prepare the car in reverse and check around. Reverse back and stop when your rear offside wheel is at the point of turn.
Stop and check all around giving way as necessary.
Looking over your right shoulder, follow the kerb also keeping a frequent look out for approaching traffic from all directions.
Once around the corner, straighten and reverse back following the right hand side kerb for about seven car lengths and stop. This should give you enough
room to move across to the left hand side of the road when required and when safe and then approach the junction to turn left or right as instructed.


Preparing for your driving test
Taking a driving test is a big day and you will have put a lot of work into preparing for it. The closer you get to it, the more tension can build and nerves kick
in! There are things you can do and things you should know that can help you to feel more relaxed and not get so nervous.

     1)    Make sure your test booking isn‟t coinciding with other stressful events such as exams or a house move for example.
     2)    Don‟t tell everyone about it. It‟s great if you pass but the thought of having to tell everyone you were not successful can put you under pressure.
     3)    Put your documents safe and to hand. There is nothing worse than not being able to find your licence the day before the test! Remember you will
           need BOTH parts of your licence, the photo card and paper counterpart, and also your theory certificate.
     4)    Don‟t stay out late the night before. Have an early night and do something relaxing. Don‟t stress yourself cramming with a highway code!
     5)    If you are worried about anything, tell me. Don‟t bottle it all up.
     6)    Remember that the examiner is human and just doing a job. Contrary to what people say examiners do actually want you to pass, so don‟t think
           they are going to try and catch you out, they can only mark you on what they see you do wrong.
     7)    Examiners may or may not chat to you as you drive. If they don‟t, it‟s not because they are not friendly, they will want you to concentrate as best
           you can for you to get the best result from your drive.
     8)    Don‟t always believe stories from other people about their driving tests. People often exaggerate what actually happened, especially if it was a
           failed test.
     9)    Make sure you discuss any shortfalls in your driving ability with me so we can deal with them before you commit yourself to a test.
     10)    It‟s important that we do a few mock tests before the real thing so you know what to expect.
     11)    If you are not successful make sure you listen carefully as to what the examiner tells you at the end of the test. You may be given advice as to
           what you need to do to improve before you next take a test.
     12)   There are billions of people all around the world who can drive, if they can, so can you!
     13)   Don‟t be afraid to ask an examiner to repeat an instruction to you should you forget it or not hear correctly.
     14)   Don‟t worry if you go the wrong way, your being marked on your driving performance, not on directions!
     15)   Drive as you normally would on a lesson. Don‟t try to be quicker or more cautious, drive in the same way that I have shown you to.
     16)   Touching a kerb doesn‟t always mean a fail. The circumstances surrounding some faults will determine how serious it is. So if you do something
           wrong, then forget about it and concentrate on the rest of your drive.
     17)   If you come across something new, go with your gut feeling. If it feels right, then it will be, if it feels wrong, then it most likely is.
     18)   Good luck!!

Top 10 reasons why people fail a test
     1)    Observation at junctions - ineffective observation and judgment
     2)    Reverse parking - ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy
     3)    Use of mirrors - not checking or not acting on the information
     4)    Reversing around a corner - ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy
     5)    Incorrect use of signals - not canceling or giving misleading signals
     6)    Moving away safely - ineffective observation
     7)    Incorrect positioning on the road - at roundabouts or on bends
     8)    Lack of steering control - steering too early or leaving it too late
     9)    Incorrect positioning to turn right - at junctions and in one way streets
     10)   Inappropriate speed - traveling too slowly or being hesitant

Source. DSA figures based on 12 months to January 2004.


The advice given on this site is intended as a source of reference for people undergoing driver training.
As there are so many variables driving a car on public roads there are many circumstances where a
driver would have to make alternative decisions based on the situation put before them. It would be
impossible to cover every single eventuality on this site, so the subjects are mainly generalisations and
are not definitive guides. It is recommended that anyone wishing to learn how to drive a vehicle should
employ a professional instructor to fully understand how to drive correctly. It is also recommended that
you refer to official DSA & HMSO publications for definitive information. Therefore, Nicedriving will not
be held responsible for actions or decisions taken by drivers out on public roads. Please take advice
from a qualified instructor who will advise and check your progress.

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