Essential Driving Skills

The 'Cockpit Drill'


It is extremely important that you carry out the cockpit drill every time you enter the car and sit behind the driver’s wheel, it is equally important to check before walking into the road and opening the driver’s door. Opening a door carelessly can put you and others in danger and it may force them to brake or swerve and could cause an accident. Although not part of the cockpit drill it is also important that you check the ‘blindspot’ by looking over your right shoulder before opening your door to exit the car

DOORS - Make sure that all the doors are firmly shut.. Make sure that any passengers have closed theirs. You are responsible for the safety of your passengers. A door not properly shut may fly open as you drive along.

SEAT AND HEADREST - Adjust the base of your seat so that you can operate the foot pedals easily. Ensure that you can fully depress the clutch pedal while not over stretching your left leg. If the base of the seat can be raised up and down adjust it until you can get a good view of the road ahead. Adjust the backrest of your seat so that you can reach all of the steering wheel with your arms slightly bent. Don't get too close or you may find it awkward to let the pedal up and you could knock your knee on the steering wheel. When adjusting the back of your seat, make sure that the 'head restraint' is adjusted correctly to protect your neck.

SEATBELTS - Fasten your seatbelt and make sure that your passengers fasten theirs. The law requires that all passengers wear seatbelts where fitted, unless they have an exemption certificate. It is the driver's responsibility that children under 14 have the seat belt fastened.

MIRRORS: Adjust all of your mirrors so that you can obtain a clear view of the road behind and to the side of your vehicle. Try to reduce the ‘blindspots’ to the side. Use your left hand to adjust the interior mirror and be careful not to touch the surface of the mirrors with your fingers. If the vehicle is new to you check which, if any, mirrors are convex (i.e. curved to give a wider field of vision).

HANDBRAKE/GEARS: You are ready to switch on the engine, but before you do you have to check that the handbrake is on and the gear lever is in neutral

The Driving Test

On your driving test the examiner will expect to see you carry out the cockpit drill, not only is it designed for your safety when driving but failure to do so is a ‘sure fire’ way to pick up a driving fault before leaving the Test Centre. So remember:-

1. Make sure all the doors are closed
2. Ensure your seat and head restraint are properly adjusted
3. Check your seatbelt
4. Check your mirrors are properly adjusted
5. Ensure the gear is in neutral and the handbrake is on.