General safety is of paramount importance before you drive.
Cockpit drill refers to the procedure of seating correctly in order to reach the controls safely and ensure a clear view from your vehicle.
As soon as you get in to the vehicle the first thing to do is make sure the handbrake / parking brake is firmly applied especially if passangers are also getting in.This will ensure that the vehicle does not roll or move unexpectedly.
Make sure that all your doors are closed securely including passanger doors in the front or rear.When young children are seated in the rear make sure the child locks are operated.
It can be an advantage to use both hands when opening and closing doors especially in windy weather where the door may be blown fron your grasp.
To visually check that the doors are firmly closed you can check in your door mirrors to see if the line of the vehicle is smooth.Ask your instructor to explain about this.
Keeping your doors locked can be a safety feature especially in busy town or Cities where it is quite easy for items to be taken from the back seats while waiting in traffic.
Some newer cars are now fitted with auto locking doors when reaching a set speed of usually around 8 mph.
You should adjust the seat so you can reach the pedals,steering wheel and make sure the head restraint is correctly adjusted.
When the seat is correctly adjusted ,you should be able to press down the clutch fully with your left foot without streching.Your leg should have a slight bend and you should be able to lift the clutch comfortably.
By law you must position the seat in order to give yourself a good view from the vehicle and you must be able to operate all neccessary controls.
Poor seat position can also cause driver fatigue on longer journeys,this can lead to poor concentration.
Can you reach the steering wheel? as a general guide when holding the wheel at the ten to two position your arms should have a slight bend .You can also try resting your wrists on the top of the steering wheel with your back firmly in the seat, this will give an indication that the back (rake) of the seat is correctly adjusted.
Make sure that your head restraint (incorrectly called head rests) are correctly adjusted.The centre of the head restraint should be level with your eyes or top of your ears.This will ensure protection in the event of a rear end collision.Poorly adjusted restraints could lead to whiplash and spinal injuries.
By law ,you and your passengers must wear a seatbelt during normal driving unless you hold a medical exemption certificate. (see highway code for full details and for child seat requirements)
Although drivers are not responsible for passengers over the age of 14 it would be a good idea to advise any passengers to wear them to comply with the law and to ensure your safety in the event of a crash.A passenger without a seatbelt in the rear seat could be thrown forward and crush front seat passengers or you the driver.
Always adjust your seat before putting on your seatbelt and make sure its not twisted.A good tip is to extend the belt with your thumb towards the steering wheel ,this way you can check for chaffing and twists.
Check your knowlege !
1. When would it be a good idea to use both hands to open and close the doors?
2. How will you know when the seat is correctly adjusted?
3. Give two reasons why rear seat passengers should wear a seatbelt.
The best way to move off is to break the maneuver down in to each sperate element.
Why do we need mirrors?
When you are driving it is essential that you know what is going on around you at all times.
All modern cars are fitted with three mirrors,a centre mirror and two door mirrors.
Before changing speed or direction you must know what is happening behind and beside you and how your intended action will effect other traffic.
A good example of this would be turning right and finding a motorbike attempting to overtake,failure to see this could result in a serious collision.If you don't check ,you don't know !
As mentioned before there are two types of mirror ,centre (interior) which is made of flat glass and gives a true view of the road behind.The door mirrors are generally made of convex glass,this means they are slightly curved.The advantage of this is that they give a wider field of vision ,the disadvantage of these is that it makes following vehicles look further away than they actually are.
This is why it's a good reason to check both centre and door mirrors together to gain a true picture of what's happening around you.
Even with three mirrors fitted to modern vehicles,there are still areas called blind spots that the mirrors do not cover.
When you are sat in the drivers seat,look in the right door mirror and see what is beside you.Although you will be able to see a good way behind you ,try to imagine that a small child on a bike or a vehicle coming off a drive slightly behind you and to your to your right and you find that the mirror does not pick it up.Failure to check this area could result in a collision.
For this reason ,before moving off always check over your right shoulder in to the blind spot area to check if it's safe.
Gears to go.
Once the engine is started it is time to select 1st gear.
Next press the clutch down fully and then "palm" the gear lever to the left and push forward.A little practice at this works wonders,try selecting 1st gear while looking as far down the road as possible and "feel" the selection rather than looking at it.This practice will be invaluable when on the move.
Set the gas.
This is the terminology for applying slight pressure to the accelerator pedal.If the car is fitted withn a rev counter ,you will generally set it "1" or 1000.If you dont have a rev counter listen to the sound of the engine and a slight increase in noise like a steady hum will be fine.
The biting point.
Finding the "biting point" is a major part of the move off process and a term you will hear frequently during your first few lessons.The biting point is when the clutch pedal is raised very slowly until you feel the car "tugging"and trying to move forward.Its vital at this stage that you do not lift the clutch to high as the car will probably stall (switch off).
The clutch is really just a spring that keeps the engine and the road wheels apart until you are ready to move off.As the clutch is raised it connects the drive and transfers power to the road wheels.
You will notice at this point that the engine revs die down a little and you will hear the engine tone change.
The skill of holding the clutch at or around the biting point is something you will practice during the early lessons and is a major part of your early learning.
Safety is of the upmost importance before moving off.
First check that the road ahead is clear ,there could be pedestrians about to cross the road or vehicles turning accross your path.The next check would be the interior rear view mirror to check the road behind.Assuming that all is clear then a glance to the left side and left door mirror to check for activity on the pavement or driveways.Finally the right door mirror and right blind spot check.
Beware of "nodding dog syndrome" this is where you look in to the areas mentioned but do NOT SEE.This is usually because you are looking to keep the instructor happy instead of looking to see what danger is present.
In the event of it not being safe to move ,then you will need to re check in case the situation has changed.A good example of this would be cycles who can appear in a matter of seconds and quite often along the pavement.
Do we need to signal?
After making the safety checks just mentioned,you will now have to decide whether to signal or not.
A signal should be used if it would be of benefit to other road users.Pedestrians may be thinking of crossing ahead,cyclists,opposing drivers and drivers emerging from side roads should all be taken in to consideration.
You should not signal just for the sake of it,as this may lead to failure to take effective observations.
Beware, putting on a signal just as a car or cycle is passing could lead to them braking harshly or swerving.
You have now prepared for moving off,so the next step is to release the handbrake.(This is best practiced on a level road to begin with) The car should not move ,if it does then the clutch is just a little to high.Try letting the clutch up very slowly ,try counting 1-2-3 as it comes up.Apply a little more gas and steer approx 10 minutes to the right.
Normal road position is generally about 1 meter from the kerb,when this is reached then steer 10 minutes to the left and finally centre the steering.
Look well ahead to maintain road position,you will often find that you will steer where you are looking.There are several ways of keeping your road position,you can try keeping your body in the centre of your lane (this does not apply to very wide roads) you can sometimes follow tracks in the road or an oil trail.
When approaching hazards,like parked cars look at the space that you will need to pass them and steer in to that space.
Try to avoid looking at the kerb or staring at an obstruction or you may be drawn towards it.
Check your knowlege !
What is the advantage of convex door mirrors?
What is the disadvantage of convex door mirrors?
Why is it important to check over your right shoulder (blind spot) before moving off?
Why is it good practice to "palm" the gear lever into 1st gear?
What is the purpose of the clutch?
Why is it not always a good idea to signal when moving off?
Just like there is a routine method for moving off and changing gear, addititionally there is a routine for stopping.In actual fact, the technique for stopping follows that for the moving off routine because it uses a routine which will be at the heart of almost everything yo do when you're behind the wheel ...
The 'Mirrors, Signal Manoeuvre' routine (MSM)This section explains the need for the MSM routine and ways to use it that will help you stop safely.Besides stopping safely , you will need to stop legally.
When deciding to pull over to stop,the first thing to do is check the rear view mirrors to assess what is happening behind.When there is following traffic or any other road user including pedestrians that might be effected by our action we should indicate our intension with a signal.Try not to simply put on a signal before checking as this is poor practice and could lead to confusion.
We need to make sure that the place we intend to stop will be both legal and convenient.Avoid stopping on yellow lines (unless you are just dropping off or picking up) yellow zig zag lines at schools,hospitals and fire stations.Private driveways and side roads should also be kept clear.
When steering to in towards the kerb try not to steer to much (approx 5-10 minutes) otherwise the angle will be to steep and it will be difficult to line up with the kerb.
A good tip ,when you are parked next to the kerb look forwards along the footpath and see where the kerb lines up on the front of your car ,it will usually be by the wiper blades. If you can get a reference point from your normal driving position, then use this to line up with the kerb when stopping.
Be sure to ease of the gas in plenty of time so not to rush ,the clutch should go down at approx one cars length for a petrol engine and 2 car lengths for a diesel.
When you come to a stop,keep your feet still until the parking (hand) brake is secured and the gear is in neutral. Be careful not to apply the hadbrake until the vehicle has come to a complete stop.
Moving to Drive Ed after 2 failed Driving Tests was a real godsend...
"Moving to Ed after 2 failed Driving Tests was a real godsend. Just after the first 4 Driving lessons I became Much more aware of my surrounding and I realised I had previously been Driving very badly. Ed Patiently talked me through the Driving process and even the manoeuvres I had found so terrifying became so easy. By the day of my Driving Test I knew i could do it. I definitely recommend anyone who wants to pass their Driving Test 1st time or has failed before to give Drive Ed a try and you will definitely not regret it. I Passed!"
Rutento Mantiziba, Milton Keynes.
I took Driving Lessons with another Driving School and failed my Driving Test twice...
"I took Driving Lessons with another Driving School and failed my Driving Test twice. Each time I was very nervous, but thanks to Drive Ed Driving School and Eddie my Driving Instructor. He made me feel very relaxed and got me ready to pass my Driving Test in 1 week! Great teacher, patient and always calm."