Module 3

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.


For your Practical Driving Test you will need to master three manoeuvres which involve reversing the car. On test you will be asked to demonstrate two of these...your examiner will decide which two on the day. You will be marked on the level of control you demonstrate, and how safely you carry out the exercise. They need to be near-perfect for success.

Because observation and judgement are critical to these manoeuvres, it is difficult to give a comprehensive description of how to do each one. This is because every driver is different. For instance a tall driver will have a diferent view to that of a shorter driver, and may use different reference points and lining-up markers.

For this reason you will need to learn your own way of doing them, guided by your instructor.

The Manoeuvres

Reversing around a corner:

You will need to reverse the car around a corner into a side-road to the left. The car must stay within about 1/2 metre of the kerb throughout, and travel about six car-lengths back into the side-road to the stop position, where it should be straight and close to the kerb. Once you finish, secure the car.


There are two parking manoeuvres to learn.

PARALLEL PARK: You will need to pull up next to a parked car, and reverse into the space behind it, as if you are parking between two parked cars. There will not be a second car behind you on Test, but the manoeuvre must be completed within two cars length, and with your car straight and close to the kerb at the end of the exercise. Once you have finished, the car should be secured.

BAY PARKING: You will need to demonstrate that you can safely and accurately reverse into a parking bay, between two other cars. Effective rear observation and appropriate use of the door mirrors will be required. Once you have finished, the car should be secured.

Turning in the Road:

You will need to turn the car round to face the opposite direction. This is the classic "Three Point Turn", and you should complete the manoeuvre in three "points" if possible, although a "Five Point Turn" may be acceptable on a narrow road. Avoid any contact with the kerbs. Normally you will be expected to drive on after this exercise.

General Advice

There are some basic steps you can take which will always help.

Firstly, ALWAYS keep the road-speed of the vehicle extremely low. You should slip the clutch throughout the entire manoeuvre, keeping adequate gas set to maintain smooth progress (around 2000 rpm is ideal). Your examiner will expect you to take reasonable time over these. Also, be astute in your observations. Most of the time you should be looking out of the back of the car (to see where you are going!), but checks to the sides and front will also be needed to confirm your position.

Safety checks are essential throughout the manoeuvre, and should cover a 360 degree field of vision (all around the car, in other words). These checks will need to be made frequently to allow you to notice approaching traffic, and deal with it.

Be prepared to act upon what you are seeing. Many people fail to do anything about other traffic, or the manoeuvre apparantly going wrong, and come to grief as a consequence. Stay calm and tackle any problem as soon as you become aware of it. Normally the sooner you act, the less work will be involved, and as a general rule, do keep any corrections simple. It is far too easy to over-complicate things.
One question often asked regards moving forward. The answer is YES, if at any time moving forward will help you complete the manoeuvre, or correct a problem, then you are allowed to move forward.


An Emergency Stop is a very rapid stop required to deal with an un-expected hazard developing very close ahead as you drive along. In fact these should be very rare events, as a good alert driver would normally be expected to forsee the hazard in time to cope with it comfortably. However even the best driver can occassionally be suprised by, say, a child running out into the road from a "blind" area.

Although sudden and vigorous, an Emergency Stop must be carried out in a controlled way to avoid loss of control of the car.

Driving Test Procedure

You may be asked to demonstrate a Controlled Emergency Stop during your driving test. This exercise is carried out on roughly one in three tests. Your Examiner will mark you on "Control" and "Promptness". Your examiner will carefully explain what is required and how the exercise is to be carried out. The procedure will be the same as we use on your lessons, so it should all be familiar.

"Normal" Emergency Braking

Very quickly bring your right foot over to the footbrake, and progressively brake firmly. In other words start light and quickly build up to a very firm push...about one second from light to firm pressure. As the car stops depress the clutch. Keep both hands on the steering wheel, and keep the steering straight as steering under extreme braking can cause a skid. This is because the tyres only have a finite ammount of grip...they can't steer and brake the car at the same time under these extreme conditions, so both functions suffer.

ABS (anti-lock brakes)

Many modern cars are fitted with ABS, which is an electro-mechanical system fitted to help in emergency situations. Quite simply it prevents the brakes from locking-up the wheels even under excessive braking. The main advantage of this is that you can steer under hard braking, which may allow you to steer round a hazard which has developed too close to you to be able to stop. Follow the advice in the car's handbook regarding braking techniques when ABS is fitted. Usually you should brake hard and depress the clutch simultaneously, but advice may vary from car to car.

ABS does NOT reduce stopping distances.

Make sure you know the "Typical Stopping Distances" published in the Highway Code.

Cadence Braking

Cadence breaking is a technique useful in cars without ABS to give you some steering while braking firmly. The idea is that you "pump" the brakes, very quickly on and off the brakes firmly. In theory the car should slow when the brakes are applied, and steer when they're not, just like ABS. Around two to three firm pumps per second should be achievable with practice.


At the start of your Practical Driving Test, your examiner will ask you two questions about maintaining your vehicle. These are very straight forward, and will either require you to explain simply how a check is carried out, or to demonstrate how you would carry out a check.

The two questions asked will be drawn from a pool of 13 set questions. As the actual questions are subject to copyright, we cannot reproduce them here, but below you will find a good guide to the questions and some suggested answers.

Under The Bonnet

You may be asked to explain any one of four under-bonnet checks, concerning OIL, ENGINE COOLANT, BRAKE FLUID, or WASHER BOTTLE. You must identify the relevant componant under the bonnet, and explain how the check is carried out.

OIL: Identify the dipstick (point at it, but do not touch it as it may be hot and/or dirty). Explain that you would withdraw the dipstick, wipe it clean with a cloth, and re-insert it. Withdraw it again and check the level of oil is between the MAX and MIN marks.

COOLANT: Identify the coolant reservoir by pointing at it and explain that you would check the level is between the MAX and MIN marks. The reservoir is transparent, and the coolant is coloured.

BRAKE FLUID: Identify the brake fluid reservoir by pointing at it and explain that you would check the level is between the MAX and MIN marks. The reservoir is transparent,although the brake fluid is pale coloured, and harder to see.

WASHER BOTTLE: Identify the washer bottle and explain that you would check there is plenty of water present.


There are two Tyres questions.

Regarding the Tyre Pressure, explain that the pressure is specified in the car's handbook and should be checked with an accurate gauge when the tyres are cold. The check is carried out by removing the dust-cap from the valve, and pushing the pressure gauge onto the valve.

The condition of the tyres , and the tread, are checked visually, so explain that you would check the tread around the circumferance of the tyre, and across the whole width, ensuring that the tread is no less than 1.6mm deep. The sidewalls of the tyre should be checked for any damage, such as cuts, bulges or chunks missing. Minor scuffs are acceptable.


To test the brakes before setting off, push the peddle down firmly a couple of times. It should feel firm, not slack or spongey.

To check the parking (hand) brake for wear, slowly click it up on the ratchet. It should feel stiff between 5 and 10 clicks. If it comes up further without becoming stiff it is worn.

To check the Brake Lights, have the ignition key in the "ON" position, and push the brake pedal. You can check the lights from within the car if you have a reflective surface behind you (eg a garage door), or get someone to help you


To show how you would check the Headlights and Tail Lights, ensure the ignition key is in the "ON" position and turn the lights switch to the HEADLIGHTS position. Walk around the car visually checking all the bulbs are lit. At the front this is the sidelight and headlight bulbs, and at the back, the red tail lights. The number plate light should also be on.

To check the direction indicators, turn on the Hazard Lights as this triggers them all. Walk around the car to check they are working. 


Push the middle of the steering wheel to sound the horn. A short firm push is best.

Power Steering

To demonstrate the power steering check, pull the steering wheel down with your left hand. As you pull the wheel, start the engine. As the engine starts you will feel the steering instantly become much lighter. The power steering is therefore working. 

There are several documents you need to know about relating to your car and driving. They all have a specific role, and there are some connections between them.

Driving Licence

You MUST have a driving licence to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads and places in the U.K. and the type of licence you hold will determine what types of vehicle you may use. As a learner driver your licence entitles you to drive a motor-car, under suitable supervision. It may also give you provisional entitlement for other classes of vehicle such as motorcycles.

This is all your licence does. You do not need it to buy, tax or insure a car.

Vehicle Registration Document

This is often refered to as the "log book". It is the document that comes with the vehicle and details all the vehicle's "personal details", such as make, model, registration number and colour. It also specifies the name and address of the vehicle's "keeper" or owner. When a vehicle is bought or sold, the old and new keepers must fill in their respective parts of the registration document and forward these to DVLA at Swansea. If a vehicle has been bought un-taxed, the registration document will be needed to tax the vehicle.


To operate a motor vehicle on public roads and in public places, it MUST be insured. The legal minimum cover needed is known as "Third Party", which indemnifies you against claims made against you by another person. This is the cheapest type of insurance, because it does not cover you or your car in any way.

Third party, fire and theft insurance will reimburse you in the event of a total loss of your vehicle by fire, or if it stolen and not recovered, but you will only get the Book Value of your car (the price a car trader would pay you if they bought the car for resale), not the price you paid for the car.

Fully Comprehensive insurance is the most expensive type of insurance, and this level of cover will ensure that your car is repaired in the event of a crash or other accidental damage, or the car will be replaced or the value of the car paid to you (depending on the age of the car and the details of your policy) in the event of total loss. Many Fully Comprehensive policies also have useful "extras" such as a courtesy car if yours is in for repair, or free windscreen replacement. These do vary a lot, and the cheapest may not be the best, so read the "small print" and shop around!
When you insure a car you will be given a policy document which details the type and level of cover, and a "certificate of Insurance" which is the document you may need to produce to prove the car is insured, say when taxing the car.


Once a car reaches three years old, it must have an annual check of roadworthyness, commonly known as the MOT. This check must be carried out by an approved garage, and is a legal requirement.
The MOT covers a wide range of elements of the car, such as brakes, lights, seatbelts and body structure, but does not include checks on the condition of the engine and transmission amongst other things. All it does is confirm that on the day of the test, the specified items were within acceptable limits. A new MOT is NOT a guarantee that the car is in good condition, although when buying a second hand car a new MOT is very worthwhile. When taxing a car over three years old you will need to produce a current MOT.

Vehicle Excise Duty

Otherwise known as Road Tax, this is the disc that must be displayed in the bottom left corner of the windscreen. It is a charge levied by the government which entitles you to keep and use a car on public roads. VED can be bought for 6 months or 1 year, but note that 2x6months will be more expensive than 1 year. If you are storing a car off road and not using it, you do not have to pay VED, but each year you must complete a SORN (statutory off road notification) declaration.

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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