Moving off safely and smoothly

When you’re about to move off, it’s vital to check all around you to make sure it’s safe to go. Use your mirrors and look all around you to see what other road users are doing and to check the road.

Although your mirrors help you see around the vehicle, there are usually many blind spots your mirrors cannot reach – particularly just behind the vehicle. You must be aware of the road users around you so you can be sure it’s safe to move off.

Check your passengers are seated before you move off so there’s no risk of them falling. Close the doors before you move off to make sure passengers cannot try to get on or off the bus as it begins to move.

Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre

Whenever you move off, use the Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre routine to keep you and other road users safe.

  • Use your mirrors to check around you.
  • When you’ve decided it’s safe to move off, signal to other road users what you’re going to do, eg turn on your indicators to show you’re going to pull out.
  • Wind down your window and lean out to look around to make sure it’s clear before you start to move off.
  • Manoeuvre your vehicle onto the road.

Using the gears and brakes

If you’re driving an automatic vehicle, make sure you put your foot on the footbrake before you select ‘drive’ otherwise you’ll stall the engine.

Put your vehicle into gear so you can move off when it’s safe to do so. When you’re ready to go, check the road ahead and behind you again before moving off slowly.

In some vehicles, you’ll need to know where the biting point of the clutch is to keep full control when moving off: this is the point at which the vehicle begins to move. The biting point differs from one vehicle to another so when you’re driving a vehicle for the first time, practise finding the biting point before you move off.

Parking brakes differ from one vehicle to another: make sure you know how to release the parking brake. Check the vehicle handbook if you’re not sure.

Dry steering

When you’re manoeuvring, be careful not to turn the steering wheel when the vehicle is not moving: this is called dry steering and it can cause

  • damage to the tyres
  • wear in the steering mechanism.

Checking the controls

As soon as possible after you set off, check the controls in your vehicle are working correctly.

  • Turn the steering wheel to check power-assisted steering is working.
  • Choose a safe spot on the road to test your brakes.

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