Driving test preparation is a key element in the outcome of the result. Poor preparation produces poor results. Quality preparation produces outstanding results.
This page is about the process of driving a car safely and confidently from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ rather than the licensing and theory/driving tests aspects.
First of all, you will need to think a little differently than you would have done at school, college or university. Driving a car calls for alertness at all times, as the slightest lack of paying attention could result in an incident. Your previous educational experiences would not have had this element of risk.
The cockpit drill is the first step you take before moving off. These checks are carried out for the safety of yourself, your passengers and other road users.
Always check the following;
- all doors are properly closed, and the hand brake is on
- the driving seat is in the best position, and you can see clearly in all directions and reach all the controls comfortably
- the head restraint is in the correct position
- the mirrors are clean and correctly adjusted
- you and your passengers have their seat belts on
- the gear lever is in neutral (if you’re driving an automatic, that the gear lever is in ‘P’ or ‘N’ and check the hand brake again
- you have enough fuel before starting your journey
Completing these checks before moving off will ensure you are not distracted with adjustments whilst driving.
Foot Pedals – manual gearbox
Looking down at the floor area in front of the driving seat you will see three pedals.
Key To Success – First Learn The Basics
The far-right pedal labelled ‘A’ is called the accelerator pedal [driving instructors use the word ‘Gas pedal’ as its easier to say whilst instructing a pupil on the move]. When pressed with the engine on, the accelerator increases the amount of fuel (diesel or petrol) that moves from the fuel tank to the engine. This causes the engine to run faster, not the car to move forward. The accelerator pedal is operated with the right foot only.
The accelerator pedal does not make the car move!!! Many people learning to drive misunderstand this important concept. Not convinced? Try this next time you are in a car. Park up on a flat road, switch the engine on and take the hand brake off. Gently press the accelerator pedal and see how far you can drive.
The middle pedal ‘B’ is called the foot brake and is also operated with the right foot. You would have probably worked out that you can’t press the accelerator and foot brake [in normal driving] at the same time. The foot brake is used to slow the car down and to stop. By pressing the accelerator, you will speed up & by pressing the brake, and you will slow down.
The car will also slow down by neither pressing the brake nor the accelerator.
As an example, imagine you are travelling at 20mph by pressing the accelerator. You then take your foot off & leave your foot in mid-air, i.e. not touching any pedal. The car will gradually slow down of its own accord. This concept needs to be understood early on in your driver training. Most people learning to drive think that you always have to press one pedal or another. Experienced drivers take their foot off the accelerator and let the car move under its own momentum whilst assessing a hazard.
The left pedal ‘C’ is called the clutch and is operated with the left foot. This is the pedal that gives movement when combined with a gear selection. The clutch pedal needs to be pressed down to the floor before you can select a gear. The clutch is necessary for connecting the gears to the engine. The gears control the movement of the driving wheels. Before we get too technical, you can practice the clutch action on a quiet road.
Find a quiet road
Park up on a quiet flat road. Turn on the engine-press the clutch to the floor-select first gear-take the hand brake off. Make sure the road is clear, and gently raise the clutch as slow as you can. Keep your left foot still on the clutch once you feel the car moving [this is called the point of contact or ‘biting point’]. Do not use the accelerator as you try to prove that the clutch moves the car, not the accelerator.
While carrying out this exercise in a petrol car, you would need to be extremely steady with the clutch movement to avoid stalling. A diesel car is more forgiving.
This exercise is beneficial in demonstrating what the clutch does and gives you practice at clutch control. By not using the accelerator, you can put your full attention on clutch control.
Now you are ready to drive away from the kerb.