Level 1:
Driving Skills for Beginners

1). Cockpit drill: DSSSM

DSSSM stands for: Doors, Seat, Steering, Seatbelt, Mirrors.

The cockpit drill is the first set of skills you’ll need to master. It covers the first things you’ll need to check and adjust each time you get into your car, before you start the engine:

The cockpit drill using the DSSSM routine: The Ultimate Guide! | Basic driving skills - car control
Lesson 1: The cockpit drill and using the DSSSM routine

2). Use of mirrors

Adjusting your mirrors before you start the engine is essential if you share your car with anyone else.

But it’s important to check your mirrors before every journey regardless. This is because they may have been knocked out of position (especially if you park on a busy street). They might also need clearing if the weather is bad.

Checking and adjusting your mirrors forms part of the cockpit drill, outlined in section 1 above. This video explains the different types of mirrors and when and how to use them whilst driving:

Use of Mirrors : The Ultimate Guide on when to use your mirrors as part of the MSM routine
Lesson 2: The ultimate guide to mirrors

3). Use of signals

Learn when and where to use signals — and which signals are appropriate in certain situations.

This video tutorial also explains how to time your signals correctly so that other road users are aware of your intentions. The golden rule is to consider whether other road users will benefit from your signalling.

Using signals incorrectly or not using them at all can have disastrous consequences. This is why it’s so important to practise your signalling skills until they become second nature. Watch our video guide to learn the basics:

Signalling : The Ultimate Guide on when to signal as part of the "Mirror Signal Manoeuvre" routine
Lesson 3: The ultimate guide on when and how to signal

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4). Moving off using the POM routine

POM stands for: Prepare, Observe, Move.

This video lesson provides step-by-step instructions for moving off using the POM routine.

Howard will demonstrate how to find the biting point of your clutch. He will also cover the six point check, which outlines the mirror and blind spot checks you must make before pulling away:

Moving off & Stopping - The Ultimate Guide to moving off and stopping a manual car (using POM & MSM)
Lesson 4: Moving off using the POM routine

5). Stopping using the MSM routine

MSM stands for: Mirrors, Signal, Manoeuvre.

Once you’ve learnt how to move off using the POM routine above, next you’ll need to learn how to stop safely. You’ll use the MSM routine every time you want to bring your car to a stop.

This routine combines many of the techniques already covered in this basic skills section of our Learner Driver Guide. Watch our ultimate guide below to find out how Howard combines these fundamental skills:

Moving off & Stopping - The Ultimate Guide to moving off and stopping a manual car (using POM & MSM)
Lesson 5: How to stop your car safely using the MSM routine

6). Steering using the pull / push method

The pull / push steering method is widely considered to be steering best practice.

This lesson in our driving skills for beginners series starts with the basics by showing you how to hold the steering wheel correctly. Howard then goes on to demonstrate the pull / push method.

To add contrast, Howard also discusses other steering techniques that many people use but that have undesirable consequences. If you’ve caught yourself using the palming method for steering or are guilty of ‘dry’ steering watch the video to find out why you need to stop:

How to Steer a Car : The Ultimate Guide to steering using the pull push technique
Lesson 6: The ultimate guide to steering using the pull / push method

We’re here to help!

We’re always trying to improve our learner driver guide. Let us know – is there anything else you’d like to learn about?

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7). Changing gears (manual and automatic)

Learning to change gears is one of the most crucial fundamental driving skills.

Once you have mastery of your gearbox you will be well on the way to becoming a safe and confident driver. This beginner’s video guide covers automatic and manual gearbox layouts and how and when to change up and down gears. Automatic drivers aren’t left out either, as the video also goes through dual clutches and paddle shifting.

Howard then goes into more detail on advanced techniques such as: selective gear changes (block changes), appropriate gearing for hazards, and engine braking:

How to change gears in a manual car (UK): The Ultimate Guide! | Basic driving skills - car control
Lesson 7: How to change gears in both manual and automatic cars