RC Driver Training - Driving Lessons  

DVSA ADI Driving Instructor in Rufford, Ormskirk, Burscough, Tarleton  

DSSSM, LADA / MSPSL, Hazards, Move Off & Stop

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). 

  • Doors: Firstly check that all doors are securely closed. Check for flush door shut lines in both mirrors
  • 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. That way 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 adjusted by first releasing a catch. Once adjusted ensure it is securely locked back in position.
  • 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 digging in and injuring you in the event of an accident. As the driver, you are responsible to ensure that all passengers under 14 years of age wear seatbelt or use an approved child restraint.
  • 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. Use the Left Door Mirror to look for hazards such as cyclists, and to check your distance from the kerb when parking. Use the Right Door mirror to look for hazards such as overtaking vehicles that you may not see in the rear view mirror. Remember you have a blind spot on each side of the car - an area you can’t see when facing forwards, and doesn’t appear in your mirrors. Look over your right shoulder and compare what you see with your door mirror. There will be a short distance that isn’t visible before. Is there a parked car there? A driveway or garden gate that you may not notice without checking it? Keep this in mind for later, it will be important when you are setting off.

To help you with the cockpit drill, remember D.S.S.S.M.

2/ The DSA system of car control LADA/MSPSL

This is the be all and end all of driving - once you master this you are sorted!

What do they both stand for:


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. 


Look: This one is simple, look well ahead, scan the whole road, other road users and signs etc.

Assess: Ask yourself the question: “Is there anything ahead which could cause me to change speed or direction” - even easing off the gas, or shifting road position to go past a parked car becomes a “yes” under this question.

Decide: If you answer “yes”, you then need to decide what to do.

Act: Upon your decision to wait or continue.

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


3/ Hazards and MSPSL 

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.


  • Mirrors: On approaching a hazard, 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: |After braking choose the appropriate gear for progress and 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   



Use observations to


the situation then


what needs to be done, and


upon your decision to wait or continue.


 4/ Moving Off & Stopping

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. 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.

  1. Prepare Clutch pedal down fully.
  2. Select 1st gear.
  3. Set the gas to a lively hum then keep your foot still.
  4. Slowly bring the clutch up about 1 cm /second until your either hear the engine tone change/ revs drop or feel the car ‘jolt’ slightly. Then keep your feet still on the pedal.
  5. Observations all round 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 door mirror & blind spot again.
  9. Move/Manoeuvre by slowly bring the clutch up and the car will begin to move.
  10. Gently apply more gas depressing the pedal the thickness of a pound coin a time as necessary.
  11. Bring the clutch up fully.
  12. Cancel signal if used

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

  •   Mirrors before considering stopping. 
  •   Signal if it will benefit any road users
  •   Manoevre/Position by steering 5 minutes left towards kerb 
  •   Speed Use progressive braking to slow the car
  •    Look Traffic behind shouldn’t have to slow     

  1. Choose a Safe Convenient and Legal Position to stop 
  2. Check centre and left mirrors 
  3. Consider giving a left signal if it will benefit other road users 
  4. If all is clear, position the car by steering 5 minutes to the left
  5. Foot of the gas pedal 
  6. Bring the speed down using gentle progressive braking 
  7. Look well ahead not down at kerb
  8. When nearing the kerb, steer 5 minutes right to prevent the tyres scraping the kerb, then steer straight ahead to a parked position 6" parallel to kerb.
  9. Ease off the brake so that the car stops smoothly
  10. Just before stopping press the clutch fully down
  11. When you have stopped keep both feet still then
  12. Apply the handbrake
  13. Select neutral then bring the clutch fully up.
  14. Cancel signal if used

Then relax!

 Copyright Robert Collier © 2008-2010 All Rights Reserved

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