Module 2

Safe Routines

Driving is an inherently dangerous involves moving a large object weighing upwards of a tonne, often at high speeds, and usually with other people close by.

Every year some 3,500 people die on the UK's roads (one of the best records in the World!) and many more are injured. Around 99% of crashes are down to one principal factor...Driver Error.

This is why it is absolutely vital that safety is built-in to every element of your driving.

To achieve this various "Safe Routines" are used when driving, and these will have been covered on your very first lesson.

Please Note

These guidlines are intended to help you remember the basic procedures, but are not comprehensive or definitive. Follow your Instructors guidance, and you will soon develop the skills of Hazard Perception, and the ability to "think on your feet" which are key to good driving.

Speed Limits

Speed limits MUST be observed at all times. It is a criminal offence to exceed the speed limit, so you must know the speed limits as described in the Highway Code. If you don't know them, how can you observe them!

A speed limit is simply a maximum legal speed. It is not a recommendation or a target. A good driver will drive at a speed appropriate to the road, traffic and weather conditions, within the speed limit.

Making Good Progress

As you drive along the road, one aim should be to make good progress within the speed limit. On Test, your examiner will look for a brisk, lively drive where conditions permit, up to or at the speed limit, but (of course) not exceeding the posted speed limit.

There will be times when you will need to travel more slowly, or even stop, to deal with hazards, and these should be dealt with efficiently, enabling you to proceed promptly when safe and convenient to do so.

Our goal here is to give you the ability to get where you are going quickly and safely.

Judging safe speeds

One key guideline on the use of speed is this : Always make sure you can comfortably stop, on your side of the road, within the distance you can see is clear ahead.
One invaluable aid to this is knowing your emergency braking distances (from The Highway Code), and being able to visualise them in terms of length of road. To be safe, reckon on allowing twice the emergency stop distance, as this gives you the option of a gentle brake, and also allows for the stopping distance of on-coming traffic travelling at a similar speed.

For example, on a National Speed Limit single carriageway (60mph limit), if you can see the road ahead is clear for 100m, in theory you will be safe at the speed limit (73m stopping distance), but dropping to 50mph would be appropriate (53m stopping distance - around half the distance you can see ahead).

This method is particularly useful when approaching curves and the view ahead decreases you should slow down in proportion, and exiting the bend you can proportionately increase your speed as the view ahead improves.
This is known as "Limit Point Analysis", because you are constantly analysing the distance of the furthest point you can see ahead (the Limit Point) to calculate what would be a safe speed.

General Advice

Around town, with (normally) a 30mph speed limit and more road users present, consider the following three criteria for slowing down:

  1. When your view ahead is obscured or obstructed.
  2. When there is less space available.
  3. When you have more work to do (e.g. steering).

The bigger the problem (e.g. less view ahead or narrower road) the slower you should be travelling. Also the problems are cumulative, so if you have a poor view on a narrow road, say, go even more slowly. If at the same time you need to steer a lot (eg around parked cars), go slower still.
The advice above is to allow for potential hazards, and is in addition to the care you will need to exercise when dealing with identified hazards, such as pedestrians crossing the road, or on-coming traffic.

If in doubt, be prepared to slow down. This will enhance safety, and is likely to give you more time to analyse the hazards ahead. Remember to check your mirrors before any change of speed, as part of the MSM routine.

Dealing With Other Traffic

You will come across plenty of other traffic as you drive, some stationary and some moving.
These will need to be dealt with systematically using the MSM routine. The following general guidelines should cover most situations.

Parked Vehicles

You should allow plenty of clearance to parked cars etc, ideally the width of an open car door at least. If you can move out further safely then do so. If oncoming traffic forces you nearer, then slow proportionately. Never get nearer than about 1 metre (door mirrors!)

Be aware that parked cars can move, their doors can open, and watch out for pedestrians too.

Meeting Traffic

Normally, meeting oncoming traffic is not a problem, but there are many situations where you might need to give way to them by slowing or stopping. These might include very narrow roads,or when a large vehicle is approaching, but most commonly where parked cars are obstructing the road. The rules here are simple. If your side of the road is obstructed the you should give way. If the obstruction is on the other side of the road, then the oncoming traffic should give way to you, but many drivers won't, so be careful and be prepared to give way to them where necessary.

When both sides of the road are obstructed, normally the first to arrive at the "gap" has priority, so use your judgement of the speed and distance of the oncoming traffic to decide if you should give way. If in doubt, slow and prepare to stop while you continue to assess the situation. If you do give way in any of these situations, stop in a position where the oncoming car has a clear path, and you have a good view ahead and an easy move-away when the road clears.

This is a subject that will be covered in great detail and your instructor will be able to give you much more advice as you come accross "Meeting Traffic" situations on your lessons.

Crossing Traffic

Crossing traffic (normally during right-turns) requires a good deal of care. You must ensure that your action has no affect on other road-users , so allow plenty of time for your maneouvre by carefully assessing the speed and distance of any approaching vehicle.


Overtaking can be one of the potentially most dangerous maneouvres of all, because it normally involves crossing on to the "wrong" side of the road.

You must ensure that you can pass the slower vehicle and return to your side of the road well before any approaching traffic gets close, and without exceeding the posted speed limit. Also you must allow for other hazards such as side roads. DO NOT overtake on the approach to a hazard!

Overtaking is much easier on dual carriageways because there is no oncoming traffic, but, as with any overtake, the MSM routine and a right blind spot check is essential, as somebody else might already be overtaking you!

Do not cut-up the vehicle/s you have passed. Wait till you can see them in your rear view mirror before moving back to the left.

There are many situations where you are not allowed to overtake. Make sure you are familiar with the rules and advice in The Highway Code.

Road Position

Adopting the correct position on the road is an important part of your driving plan. The "Normal" road position is about 1 metre from the left kerb, and should be used on a clear road in normal driving. This position should also be used during left turns and if following the road ahead at crossroads and most roundabouts. If turning right on a single carriageway (a normal two-way road), a "left of centre" position should be used.

The road position can be adapted when aproaching a bend. For left-hand bends, a move towards the middle of the road may give you a better view, but will leave you nearer to on-coming traffic. For a right-hand bend a position well to the left will give the best view ahead. When negotiating a right-hand bend, keep well to the left. Avoid letting the car drift near to the centre of the road and at no time let the car cross the middle of the road. If an obstruction forces you to cross the centre of the road on a bend, take extreme care, and make sure you can safely finish the manoeuvre before you start it!

In any situation where you have to pass obstructions you will need to change your position, and generally try to give the obstruction as much clearance as possible, without compromising safety or inconveniencing other road users.

Dual Carriageways

A Dual Carriageway is a road where the two opposing flows of traffic are separated by a physical barrier (the Central Reservation). Most Dual Carriageways are out of town and the National Speed Limit normally applies. However urban Dual Cariageways normally have the 30mph speed limit in place. In other words the speed limit may not change if you join a Dual Carriageway in built-up areas.

Traffic Lanes

Where the road is divided into lanes, you should position the car in the middle of the most appropriate lane. This would normally be the left lane. If the left lane is obstructed (say, by parked cars) , or you intend to turn right, then use the right lane. On a Dual Carriageway, you may use the right lane to follow ahead at some junctions,such as some roundabouts.

At junctions the road is sometimes divided into lanes, and the correct lane should be used for the direction you intend to go. This would normally be the left lane if turning left or following ahead, and the right lane for right turns. However, look carefully for signs and road markings as the layout may vary.

On Motorways always use the left lane when it is not "Hog" the middle lane (lane 2), although it is acceptable to remain in lane 2 if there is slower traffic in lane 1. It is not good practice to constantly change lane. (The lanes are normally refered to by number, the left lane being "Lane 1".)

General Advice

On any multi-lane road (two or more lanes) Use the left lane where available. Consider the lane/lanes to the right to be Overtaking lanes.

If you are unsure where to position the car the following is a good general guide: KEEP LEFT UNLESS YOU ARE TURNING RIGHT.

Controlled Crossings

There are four types of controlled crossings, Zebra, Pelican, Puffin and Toucan.


These are the oldest type of crossing but are quite rare these days. The main features are belisha beacons (Orange flashing globes atop black and white banded poles), black and white stripes going across the road, and white zig-zag markings on the edges and middle of the road.
You must stop and give way to pedestrians anywhere on the crossing.


These crossings feature traffic light signals which are triggered when a pedestrian pushes a button. You must stop when the amber or red light shows. After a while the red light will go out and the amber light will flash. Wait if people are crossing the road, but if the whole crossing is clear you may proceed with caution. Pelican crossings are the only place you will find the flashing amber light feature on traffic signals.


These look like Pelican crossings, but are "smart". Sensors detect pedestrians and will keep the red light on as long as needed to allow people to cross. When the crossing is clear, the lights revert to green in the normal to red and amber to green. Do not proceed until the green light shows, and still be prepared to give way to pedestrians who may move onto the crossing.


These are Puffin crossings which can also be used by cyclists, and are most commonly to be found where a cycle path crosses a road. The cyclist or pedestrian can trigger the crossing by using the push button.

On the other crossings, cyclists should dismount and walk their bike across.

Other Crossing Places

There are many other places people can cross the road. Look out for islands in the road, usually with bollards and a lamp post on them, and also look out for "Tactile Paving", knobbly paving slabs, usually beige coloured, which are for the blind and partially sighted who can feel the "knobbles" under their feet. This tells them that they are at a crossing point. These will be seen at contolled crossings too.

Got a printer?

© MS Driving: Pupils are permitted to print one copy only of each page for their personal use. Some, like the "Module One" pages, will be very useful to newer pupils, as you can look at them on a daily basis to refresh your memory between lessons.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is believed to be current and correct, but we cannot accept any responsibility for errors or omissions, or any problems arising from using this website.

The Highway Code

The Highway Code will be your principal reference source. It can be accessed by clicking here.


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