Moving off safely and smoothly

When you’re about to move off, it’s vital to check that 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 car, there are blind spots they don't show you. To check blind spots and make sure its safe to move off you must turn and look around over your right shoulder before you move off from the left-hand side of the road and over both your shoulders when moving off from the right-hand side of the road.

Modern vehicles are often equipped with sensors to warn drivers of approaching vehicles. These advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can help you to move off safely. However, they should not be used as a substitute for your own safety checks.

Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre

Whenever you move off, use the Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre (MSM) 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, consider a signal to other road users; for example, turn on your indicators to show your intention to move off.
  • Manoeuvre your vehicle safely and smoothly into the road.

Remember: if you have parking assistance and collision detection technology fitted to your vehicle, it does not take away your responsibility to use your mirrors to scan around you. You must continue to be as focused on the road and your surroundings as you would be if these features were not fitted.

Using the gears and brakes

Automatic vehicles

Make sure you put your foot on the footbrake before you select a forward or reverse gear.

With your car in 'drive' 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.

Manual vehicles

To keep full control of your vehicle when moving off, you’ll need to know where the biting point of the clutch is: this is the point at which the car begins to move when the parking brake is released.

The biting point in manual cars differs from car to car so, when you’re driving a car for the first time, practise finding the biting point before you move off.

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

Remember: Avoid turning the steering wheel before the car is moving; this is called dry steering and it can cause

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

This applies equally to automatic and manual vehicles.

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