TOP DRIVING SKILLS REQUIRED FOR SAFE DRIVING

Updated: 2 days ago

On average, it takes 45 hours of professional instruction and 22 hours of private practice to learn to drive.


This should not be a target nor set as a minimum, but it is a good perimeter by which to follow.


Your driving instructor will be able to assist with how they feel you are progressing as everyone learns differently.


You should look to do as much homework as possibly, these resources from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can help:

  • The Official DVSA Guide to Learning to Drive

  • The Official DVSA Guide to driving - the essential skills

  • The Official Highway Code and Know Your Traffic Signs

There are key skills that make up the recommended syllabus. DVSA guidance explains what each skill covers and what you pupil must know and understand.


Learning the basics


Skills in this section:


  • driving legally

  • driving safely

  • checking the car


Driving legally


What this skill covers.


The driver and car rules.


You must know and understand the rules on:

  • drink and drugs

  • mobile phones

  • tiredness and resting

  • dealing with accidents

  • their driving licence and who can help them with private practice

  • health and eyesight

  • vehicle condition and registration

  • tax, MOT and insurance

  • traffic rules and regulations

  • their car being safe to drive

Driving safely


What this skill covers.


Being able to do FLOWER (fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics, rubber) car safety checks.


You must know and understand:


  • how to do daily and weekly car checks

  • the importance of regular servicing

  • how to plan for journeys, especially longer ones

  • how to keep windscreens clear and clean


Checking the car


What this skill covers.


Being able to adjust driving equipment in the right order so that they’re in the best position for driving.


Getting in and out of the car safely.


What our must know and understand


You must know and understand how to check and adjust (if applicable) the following:

  • doors are closed and parking brake on

  • seat and headrest position, including how to adjust and lock firmly

  • steering wheel

  • seat belt

  • mirrors, including anti-dazzle

  • gears and parking brake

  • fuel

Getting the car ready


Skills in this section:

  • mirrors - signal - manoeuvre, position - speed - look

  • using mirrors

  • using signals

  • using controls and instruments

  • moving away and stopping

  • safe positioning

  • anticipating and planning

  • use of speed

  • keeping the car secure


Mirrors - Signal - Manoeuvre, Position - Speed - Look


What this skill covers


Making the MSM and PSL routine an integral part of their driving.


What our must know and understand


MSM

  1. Mirrors. Check the speed and position of traffic behind

  2. Signals. Consider whether a signal is necessary. If it is, signal your intention to change course or slow down clearly and in good time

  3. Manoeuvre. Make the manoeuvre if it’s safe. Make sure your position and speed are appropriate, and that you look and act on what you see.

Position


Your vehicle is in the correct position for the manoeuvre and that you move in plenty of time if you need to change direction.


Speed


You should make sure your car is moving at the right speed and in a suitable gear to manoeuvre safely.


Look

  1. Look - What do you see?

  2. Assess - What are your options?

  3. Decide - Depending on what you see.

  4. Act - Either continue or wait.

Using mirrors


What this skill covers.


Using interior, exterior, flat, concave and convex mirrors. What area each mirror covers and where blinds spots are.


You must know and understand:

  • why you need to use mirrors

  • when you need to use mirrors

  • how to act on what you see

  • how to carry out all-round visual checks, including blind spots, to make sure it’s safe to move off

  • that you need to check car mirrors often and why it’s important that you do

Using signals


What this skill covers.


Using indicators and arm signals. Brake, reversing and hazard lights.


You must know and understand:

  • why it’s necessary to use signals

  • when and how to use signals

  • unnecessary signals

  • how road signals are used by other road users and traffic controllers

Using controls and instruments


What this skill covers.


Using controls and instruments effectively. Knowing what happens if they’re not used properly.


You must know and understand how and when to use the following:

  • accelerator, clutch and footbrake

  • parking brake, steering wheel, horn, indicators and gears

  • warning lights and speedometer

  • windscreen wipers

  • hazard, reversing, side, fog and headlights

  • demister and heated windows

It's important to understand how these may vary between manufacturers.


Moving away and stopping


What this skill covers.


Moving and stopping the car in a controlled way. Being able to do this on a level road, on a slope, when straight and at an angle.


You must know and understand the following:

  • coordinate the accelerator, clutch and footbrake

  • use the steering wheel and parking brake

  • find a suitable stopping place

  • be observant, knowing where and when to look, what to look for and where there may be blind spots

You must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Safe positioning


What this skill covers.


You must be able to to position the car safely on different roads and traffic conditions.


You must know and understand:

  • what the normal driving position is

  • how to position the car on bends, wide roads, narrow roads and one-way streets

  • what lane discipline is

  • how to pass stationary vehicles and obstructions safely

  • the positioning of other vehicles (long vehicles, cyclists etc) and how that impacts on them

You must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Anticipating and planning


What this skill covers.


Being able to anticipate the risks of driving and plan what to do in a risk situation. This could be from other road users (including emergency vehicles), animals or road works.


You must know and understand:

  • how to identify and react to developing hazards

  • what visual warnings there may be

  • times and places of high risk

  • the risks associated with different weather conditions

  • scanning and priorities

You must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Use of speed


What this skill covers.


Driving at an appropriate speed, moving with the flow of traffic and not hesitating unnecessarily.


You must know and understand:

  • national speed limits

  • restricted speed limits

  • why you should change driving speed to suit the road, weather and traffic conditions

  • why you should drive at a safe speed for pedestrians

  • what the stopping distances are

Keeping the car secure


What this skill covers.


Keeping your car and personal items safe. Being able to do this during the day, at night, when parking and in the event of a breakdown or accident.


You must know and understand:

  • to be alert to potential theft of and from your car

  • what personal and car security systems there are

  • safe places to park

Being aware of others


Skills in this section:

  • meeting and crossing traffic

  • overtaking

  • junctions

  • using roundabouts

  • approaching pedestrian crossings


Meeting and crossing traffic


What this skill covers.


Driving safely when meeting or crossing traffic on:

  • one-way and two-way roads

  • three-lane (where possible) and two-way roads

  • major and minor roads

  • narrow roads

  • dual carriageways

You must know and understand:

  • when and why you should give way to other road users

  • passing places and warning signs

  • what to do when passing obstructions, such as parked vehicles

  • how to act on what you see

You must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Overtaking


What this skill covers.


Being able to safely overtake other vehicles on:

  • one-way and two-way roads

  • three-lane (where possible) and two-way roads

  • major and minor roads

  • dual carriageways

You must know and understand to:

  • check your speed and position before overtaking

  • check behind and in front of your car

  • check if there is enough space for you to pull into the traffic in front of the vehicle that they’re overtaking

Your pupil must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Junctions


What this skill covers.


Driving safely and negotiating any junction, including:

  • turning left, turning right

  • T-junctions and Y-junctions

  • crossroads and slip roads

  • marked and unmarked junctions

  • one-way streets

  • urban areas and rural areas

  • dual carriageways

  • yellow box junctions

You must know and understand:

  • the rules for turning, entering and coming out of junctions

  • advance warning signs and road markings

  • the order of traffic lights

  • what the zone of vision is

  • which vehicle has priority at a junction

Your pupil must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Using roundabouts


What this skill covers.


Driving safely and confidently on these types of roundabouts:

  • mini and major

  • multiple and satellite (where possible)

  • traffic light controlled

You must know and understand:

  • the importance of lane discipline at a roundabout

  • the zones of vision at a roundabout

  • how to use observation early

  • to not assume that the vehicle in front will pull away

  • which vehicle has priority at a roundabout

Your pupil must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Approaching pedestrian crossings


What this skill covers.


Approaching controlled (such as pelican) and uncontrolled (such as zebra) pedestrian crossings. How to obey school crossing patrols.


You must know and understand:

  • the visual warnings of a pedestrian crossing

  • the speed restriction as you approach a pedestrian crossing

  • not to overtake near a pedestrian crossing

  • that you need to scan for pedestrians as they approach a pedestrian crossing

  • the times and places of high risk

  • how different weather conditions can add to the risk

  • what central refuges and split carriageways are

You must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Manoeuvres


Skills in this section:

  • reversing in a straight line, reversing left or right

  • turning the car around

  • parking

  • emergency stop


Reversing in a straight line, reversing left or right


What this skill covers.


Pulling the car up on the left or right and reversing in a straight line on:

  • wide and narrow roads

  • level and sloping roads

You must know and understand:

  • how to manoeuvre safely, legally and in a way that is convenient to others

  • how to coordinate foot and hand controls

  • square and radius corners

  • how to steer the car so that it moves in the right direction

  • the importance of good observation, judgement and accuracy

  • how to signal

Turning the car around


What this skill covers.


Turning the car around safely on flat, sloping, wide and narrow roads.


You must know and understand:

  • how to manoeuvre safely, legally and in a way that is convenient to others

  • how to coordinate foot and hand controls

  • how to steer the car so that it moves in the right direction

  • the importance of good observation, judgement and accuracy

  • how to signal

Parking


What this skill covers.


Knowing how to park safely:

  • in a bay (both driving in and reversing in)

  • on a street (parallel parking)

  • on both level and sloping roads

You must know and understand:

  • how to manoeuvre safely, legally and in a way that is convenient to others

  • how to coordinate foot and hand controls

  • how to steer the car so that it moves in the right direction

  • the importance of good observation, judgement and accuracy

  • how to signal

Emergency stop


What this skill covers.


Knowing how to stop the car in the event of an emergency. How to control a skid.



You must know and understand how to:

  • look for hazards

  • coordinate the clutch and brake

  • control skidding

  • plan and be ready to react to other drivers

  • react to road and weather conditions

  • move away safely after stopping the car

You must know how an anti-lock braking system (ABS) can help in an emergency stop.


Road types


Skills in this section:

  • country roads

  • towns and cities

  • dual carriageways

  • motorways


Country roads


What this skill covers.


Anticipating and planning journeys on country roads. How to drive at an appropriate speed, consider traffic and stay safe on road bends.


You must know and understand:

  • how to scan the road and the road priorities

  • how to allow for other traffic

  • what speed restriction they should keep within for the type of road

  • how to look for hazards

  • how to drive safely around bends

Towns and cities


What this skill covers.


Driving on busy roads in towns and cities.


What you must know and understand

  • how to cooperate with other road users to keep the traffic flowing and prevent accidents

  • that you must look out for other road users and try to predict what they’re likely to do

  • to allow plenty of space for road users who may have different road rules. For example, a driver of a large vehicle may need to swing out to make a turn

Dual carriageways


What this skill covers.


Driving on urban and rural carriageways and clearways.


You must know and understand:

  • the speed limits and lane discipline for dual carriageways

  • any advance warning or information signs

  • how to join and leave a dual carriageway safely

  • how to turn safely on a dual carriageway

  • what to do if your car breaks down, including using hazard lights and triangles

  • how road and weather conditions can make dual carriageway driving more difficult

Your pupil must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Motorways


What this skill covers.


Driving on motorways. Motorway rules, signs, signals and lane discipline.


You must know and understand:

  • the speed limit and lane discipline for motorways

  • how to join and leave a motorway safely

  • what to do if their car breaks down on a motorway

  • how you take regular breaks from driving

  • smart motorways and emergency refuge areas

  • to be aware of other vehicles

Your pupil must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Driving conditions


Skills in this section:

  • driving in the dark

  • driving on wet roads and in bad weather

  • driving in bright sunshine


Driving in the dark


What this skill covers.


Driving in the dark on urban and rural roads, single and dual carriageways.


You must know and understand:

  • how to drive at an appropriate speed

  • the impact that darkness has on their visibility

  • how to use your lights (including hazard lights) and horn

  • how to deal with the dazzle from the lights of other vehicles

  • how to park safely

Driving on wet roads and in bad weather


What this skill covers.


Driving safely on wet roads and in other bad weather.


This includes driving in the fog, ice, snow or wind.


You must know and understand.

  • how to drive at an appropriate speed

  • what the stopping distances are

  • the impact of the weather on your visibility

  • how to cope with skidding and aquaplaning

  • what warning signs and signals to look for

  • how to use your lights (including hazard lights) and horn

  • anti-lock braking and vehicle stability systems

  • how to park safely

Driving in bright sunshine


What this skill covers.


Driving in bright sunshine, dealing with glare and low winter sun.


You must know and understand.

  • reducing your speed and leave a bigger stopping distance between you and the car in front

  • to drive carefully and look out for pedestrians and cyclists

  • that windscreens should be kept clean as a dirty windscreen can make dazzle worse

  • to wear sunglasses or use the visor to reduce glare

Navigation


Skills in this section:

  • using a sat nav

  • driving using instructions from a passenger

  • planning and navigating a route


Using a sat nav


What this skill covers.


Setting up a sat nav and driving using instructions from a sat nav.


You must know and understand:


  • how to fit the sat nav in a position that minimises distraction

  • how to programme a sat nav before they start their journey

  • that sat navs can sometimes fail, and how to prepare for that happening

Driving using instructions from a passenger


What this skill covers.


Following route instructions from a passenger in a way that is safe.


You must know and understand:

  • the importance of forward planning

  • lane discipline

  • how to read traffic signs and signals and follow road markings

  • how to anticipate the actions of other road users

Your pupil must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Planning and navigating a route


What this skill covers.


Planning and following their own route as part of the driving lesson.


You must know and understand:

  • the importance of forward planning

  • lane discipline

  • how to read traffic signs and signals and follow road markings

  • how to anticipate the actions of other road users

  • how to ask for help in plenty of time when you need it from your driving instructor

Your pupil must use the MSM and PSL routine.


Fuel


What this skill covers:


Driving in a way that uses less fuel and helps the environment.


You must know and understand:

  • different driving styles and how they impact on the environment

  • how important it is to look after your car

  • how to dispose of used oil, used batteries and tyres

  • how important it is to have the right tyre pressure and depth

Transporting people and loads


What this skill covers:


Being responsible when:

  • having passengers in their car (adults, children, babies, and animals)

  • carrying loads on and in your vehicle

  • loading trailers and cycle racks

You must know and understand:

  • how to use the car seat belts

  • the appropriate car seat for a baby or child

  • how to use doors, guards, and restraints when transporting animals

  • the rules for carrying loads safely

  • the rules for towing, trailers and cycle racks

  • how to load luggage for weight distribution

Source DVSA published 11th February 2020

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