Driving Lesson Subjects

So your ready to start your driving lessons, see below for the subjects you will be covering on your driving lessons.

  • Cockpit drill
  • Vehicle safety checks
  • Car controls and instruments
  • Moving off and stopping
  • Safe road positioning
  • Use of car mirrors
  • Signalling
  • Anticipation and planning
  • Use of speed
  • Other traffic
  • Junctions
  • Roundabouts
  • Pedestrian crossings
  • Dual carriageways
  • Manoeuvres
  • Emergency stop
  • Adapting to road conditions
  • Weather Conditions
  • Satnav use

Cockpit Drill

This will be one of the first things your instructor will talk to you about, before you get to drive the car.

Your cockpit drill is everything you need to check before you can drive - things like making sure your seat position is right and adjusting your mirrors. 

You won't need to go through the whole cockpit drill in your test if you've arrived at the test centre in your driving instructor’s car, because everything will be set up.

  • Doors - Make sure the doors are shut, give them a shake to be sure.
  • Seat - Adjust the height and distance of your seat from the controls using the clutch as guide to the perfect seating position - Dont forget the headrest, should be adjusted so the ridgid part is lever with your eys or top of the ears.
  • Steering - Most modern cars allow you to adjust the height of the steering wheel.
  • Seatbelt - Make sure the seatbelt sits flat across your chest and stomach.
  • Mirrors - Adjust your door mirrors to see hald the road and hald the sky with just two fingers of the side of the car - The central mirror needs to see out of the back window with a clear view of the road behind you.

If you're doing your driving test in your own car, make sure you've been through the cockpit drill before arriving and you have a spare rearview mirror for the examiner. You won't fail if you don't have this but it makes a good impression.

Vehicle Saftey Checks

Also known as the Show Me, Tell Questions. The checks are designed to test your knowledge and understanding of basic car maintenance.

At the start of the practical driving test you will be asked one show me and one tell me question. Failure to answer one or both of the questions correctly will result in your scoring one minor fault.


Car controls and instruments

  • Foot controls: accelerator, clutch, foot brake
  • Hand controls: handbrake, steering wheel, indicators, gear stick
  • Instruments: speedo, rev counter, fuel gauge, various warning lights

for more details about possible dash waning lights please our car maintenance guide here

Moving off and stopping

In your test, you’ll stop and move off again quite a few times. Each time, you must show the examiner that you’re doing the MSM(PSL) routine.

Mirror - Signal - Manoeuvre (Position - Speed - Look)

    • Mirror - use your mirrors to check the position of traffic around and behind you, acting on what you see
    • Signal - show others what you intend to do, in good time
    • Manoeuvre - a change in speed or position
      • (Position - position your car correctly for the move you want to make, reinforcing your intentions
      • Speed - adjust your speed so it’s safe for the manoeuvre
      • Look) - have a final look to check it's safe before you start to steer

Safe Road Positioning

You must be able to drive in the correct position for the road on which you are driving.

You must be able to respond to the positions of other road users. You will need to understand how other vehicles i.e. buses and motorcycles, need to position themselves and how their presence will effect where you position your vehicle.

You must be able to follow the rules and principles of lane discipline.

Use of car mirrors

You should be using your mirrors:

    • Before signalling
    • Before changing direction or speed
    • As part of the Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre routine

Mirrors should be used regularly and you must be aware of the presence of others in blind spots. Early use of mirrors is a must to give you time to react to what you are seeing.

You should know the differences between the different car mirrors and know when and how to use them.

You should understand blind spots and how to deal with them.


You will need the knowledge and understanding to give clear, well-timed signals to other road users and have the ability to respond correctly to signals given by other road users.

  • Why signals are necessary
  • When and how to signal
  • Unnecessary signals

Anticipation and planning

You will need to be able to identify emerging hazards and respond to them safely. Constant observation is key to this.

You will need to:

  • Think and plan ahead and anticipate the actions of others road users.
  • identify hazards from clues and respond to them safely
  • recognise times, places and conditions which mean there is a higher risk.
  • Demonstrate safe attitudes when dealing with vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.

Use of speed

Safe and reasonable progress should be made according to the road, weather and traffic conditions, the road signs and speed limits. You will need to know:

  • the various speed limits and restrictions for different types of road
  • how weather conditions affect the speed you use
  • the stopping distances for your vehicle in different conditions
  • how to calculate a safe separation distance between yourself and the vehicle in front

Other traffic

You will need to be able to deal safely and confidently with meeting, crossing and overtaking other vehicles.

Meeting traffic - give way to oncoming traffic when obstacles such as parked cars block your side of the road. On narrow roads you should be prepared to use passing places.

Crossing traffic - when turning right you must position you car correctly, as close to the centre of the road as it is safe to do so, give way to oncoming traffic, make the turn without cutting the corner or taking the turn too widely.

Overtaking - know when it is legal and safe to overtake. Check and assess the speed and position of vehicles behind you, in front and coming towards you.

All the above require appropriate use of the MSM/PSL routines.


You will need to recognize and identity the different types of road junction and be able to negotiate them safely and without holding up other road users unnecessarily.

  • MSM and PSL
  • Turning, entering and emerging
  • Advance warning signs and road markings
  • Zones of vision
  • Priorities


You will need to have a full understanding of the rules which apply to approaching and negotiating roundabouts. You will need to demonstrate that you can use them safely and confidently.

You will need to know the different procedures needed to negotiate standard and mini roundabouts.

When dealing with any roundabout you must:

  • Show effective use of the MSM and PSL routines
  • position your car correctly
  • use the correct lane on your approach and when on the roundabout
  • use the correct procedure on your exit from the roundabout

Pedestrian crossings

You will need to know the rules which apply to all pedestrian crossings and you will need to understand the differences between each type of crossing.

You will need to be able to safely negotiate all types of crossings and show:

  • effective observation
  • an ability to recognise different types of crossing
  • use of the correct speed when approaching a crossing
  • an understanding of how different weather conditions affect your ability to see and stop safely
  • a knowledge of when you need to stop for pedestrians who are using the crossing

Dual carriageways

You must be able to drive safely and with confidence all all types of dual carriageway.

You must demonstrate you understand the rules and procedures of joining, using and leaving a dual carriageway.

  • MSM and PSL
  • Speed limits
  • Lane discipline
  • Advanced warning and information signs
  • Joining, leaving and turning
  • Breakdowns, hazard lights and triangles
  • Motorways
  • Road and weather conditions


You must be able to perform all the manoeuvres safely and under control. They include:

  • pull up on the right and reverse two car lengths
  • bay parking
  • parallel parking
  • driving into a bay and reversing out

Good clutch control is a key component of perform these manoeuvres correctly.

Emergency stop or controlled stop

You must be able to perform an emergency stop safely and under control.

To safely stop your car as quickly as possible while keeping for control you need to know

You will need to demonstrate that you:

  • can co-ordinate the brake and clutch pedals so the car comes to stop under full control
  • know weather or not your car has ABS
  • know how different road and weather conditions can affect the way you stop
  • can control a skid if one occurs
  • know how to move away safely from an emergency stop

Adapting to road conditions

You will need to understand how some weather conditions will affect driving conditions. The primary affects will be on your:

  • visibility
  • speed
  • stopping distance
  • handling

You will need to know:

  • the warning signs and signals that may need to be used
  • when to use your lights and which lights to use in poor visibility
  • how to avoids skidding and aquaplaning and what to do if they do occur

Weather Conditions

You will need to understand how some weather conditions will affect driving conditions. The primary affects will be on your:

  • visibility
  • speed
  • stopping distance
  • handling

You will need to know:

  • the warning signs and signals that may need to be used
  • when to use your lights and which lights to use in poor visibility
  • how to avoids skidding and aquaplaning and what to do if they do occur

Satnav use

Following the Satnav is now part of the driving test so it important you get practice following instructions from a Satnav