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 your mirrors cannot reach. You must also turn and look 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 to check it’s safe to move.

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 pull out when it’s safe.
  • Manoeuvre your vehicle safely and smoothly into 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 may shoot forward or backward depending on gear selection.

Put your car 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 a car with a manual gearbox, 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 or footbrake 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.

Dry steering

When you’re manoeuvring, be careful not to turn the steering wheel when the car 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 car are working correctly.
  • Turn the steering wheel to check the power-assisted steering is working.
  • Choose a safe spot on the road to test your brakes.

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