1/ Cockpit Drill (D.S.S.S.M.)
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 driver’s seat, you have responsibility for the car and any passengers you are carrying.
First 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).
To help you with the cockpit drill, remember D.S.S.S.M.
This is the be all and end all of driving - once you master this you are sorted!
What do they both stand for:MSPSL
Means Mirror Signal Manoeuvre (The manoeuvre is broken down into Position,Speed Look.)
A manoeuvre simply means any change of speed or direction, for example speeding up, slowing down, stopping or changing road position or direction.
Rear View: Work out who is behind you, and how your actions may affect them.
Door Mirror: If moving left, then check for anyone on your inside who may not be in your rear view (eg: pedestrians & cyclists). If moving right, check for anyone overtaking you (eg: cars & motorcycles).
If there is anyone close, slow early and smoothly so that they have a chance to react.
If there is anyone close, work out what they will see. If you need to slow, then slight pressure early on the brake will ‘signal’ your intentions to slow. Consider an indicator if it will help anyone, though be careful not to confuse them. This is where things get interesting (hence the question mark on this one!). Imagine you are following a car down a road. He has to pass a parked car, near a road on the right. If he starts to signal right, you are left wondering what he will do. Is he signalling to pass the car? Is he turning right? What does the guy coming towards him in the other lane think? Now consider the same situation when the car in front doesn’t signal - you can be reasonably safe in the assumption that he is going to continue past the parked car - no signal is necessary. However, if you are changing roads, or lanes, or moving off where your actions might affect someone, you will usually need a signal. If in doubt, ask these 2 questions:
“Could it help?” and “Could it confuse?”.
Once you know who is around, and have told everyone what you are doing, start to position yourself for the manoeuvre or junction. Remember that people will read your position like a signal, so make sure it fits in with what they expect of you. Make your life easy by positioning early, but try to keep out of everyone else’s way. When turning left, follow the kerb, but keep about a metre from the kerb if possible. When turning right, position just to the left of the centre line, and don’t encroach into oncoming traffic. When overtaking, give at least a door’s width where possible, with cyclists try to give a Fall Off Gap (FOG) of 2 metres, as they are less steady. If you can't give a car door's widths then you need to bring your speed down so that you are able to stop if the cyclist were to wobble and fall off.
Most manoeuvres need a speed reduction. You now know who is around, and have started to take your position for the manoeuvre or junction. Planning early will allow you to slow smoothly, braking first (or easing off the gas if that is all that is necessary), then changing into the gear you feel you will need to use through the problem. Be aware that when changing down to a lower gear, you often need to stay on the brake until your clutch is up in the new gear. You won’t stall unless you need to stop, and you can always put the clutch back down again. Bringing the clutch up in a lower gear will regulate your speed, especially if you are travelling down hill, and gives you more control. When choosing gears, don’t change through every intermediate gear. In modern cars this is unnecessary, and making 3 gear changes (say from 5th to 4th to 3rd to 2nd) takes your mind off the road conditions when 1 change will suffice (5th to 2nd).
Is this sounding familiar? This brings us back to the start again. This is the point where you look into the new road, or at the approaching traffic or situation, which you will then…..
Look, Assess, Decide and Act upon.
At all times you should be looking and assessing. This is similar to your hazard perception test, anything which you would’ve clicked on is something which should kick into DECIDE mode, therefore starting the MSM/PSL routine. After all, if the hazard doesn’t develop, there is no problem. However, leaving it late to start this routine will mean that you may have to react sharply, causing problems to other road users. Spotting possible problems early, assessing them correctly and reacting to them smoothly is the sign of a good driver. Keep working on it, you will get there sooner than you think
Firstly let’s look at hazards. Some hazards are actual features of a road like a bend, a brow of a hill, a junction and roundabouts 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 even 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.
As you now know, 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 hazard such as a junction, roundabout, a parked car or even the location of a school. MSPSL is just an extension of MSM, Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre, only we are preparing for an actual or potential change in Position and Speed using observations or Look.
Use observations to
the situation then
what needs to be done, and
upon your decision to wait or continue.
4/ Moving Off & Stopping
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. Then carry out your cockpit drill (DSSSM) as described above.
To start the engine, the Mini is different than most cars in that you need to insert the keyfob into the dash. The warning lights will then be displayed.
In the Mini you must also fully depress the clutch before pressing the ‘start’ button to start the engine. Once the engine has started ensure the oil and ignition warning lights go out.
To move off use the POM Prepare, Observe, Manoeuvre routine.
As you move away do so at an appropriate speed to join in and keep up with the traffic flow.
Ensure before 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 proficient at moving away, try to keep your left foot away from the clutch pedal on the foot rest to the left of the clutch pedal. If your foot is touching the pedal you could be slightly engaging the clutch and it could suffer premature wear as a result.
You will be taught stopping before moving off, there's no point in moving off if you don't know how to stop! Firstly you must select a place to stop in a Safe Convenient and Legal, Position (SCaLP). Don’t stop next to drop kerbs, Double yellow lines, Bends, Drives, Pedestrian crossing zigzag’s, Less than 10 metres from Junctions, on Clearways, at Bus stops or opposite parked vehicles. When Stopping Use the MSM/PSL routine
Firstly you must select a place to stop in a Safe Convenient and Legal, Position (SCaLP). Don’t stop next to drop kerbs, Double yellow lines, Bends, Drives, Pedestrian crossing zigzag’s, Less than 10 metres from Junctions, on Clearways, at Bus stops or opposite parked vehicles.
When Stopping Use the MSM/PSL routine
Then relax!Copyright Robert Collier © 2008-2010 All Rights Reserved