Important Routines  for Learner Drivers. 

A post by Paul Loader ADI
Owner of Paul’s Automatic Driving School Basingstoke

Important Routines for Learner Drivers

Why learn routines

When you learn to drive with a DVSA Driving Instructor you should be taught a set of routines to make some sense of the endless list of things you are going to need to learn. Not all driving instructors teach these routines – but it is my opinion that they should, and I always try to make sure my learner drivers understand what they are.  These routines are often referred to in the theory test and on the driving test by the Driving Test Examiner from time to time.  The routines can add essential structure to the otherwise chaotic learning process that can occur when a pupil does not understand the order or sequence of basic tasks.  I have also found the absence of these routines can disadvantage a pupil who may have been struggling to learn a particular part of the syllabus.  Adding these routines can also accelerate learning and provide reassurance to struggling pupils.

In this post, I will list and give the basics of the routine but it will not be an in-depth explanation of the routines.


List of routines

– D-S-S-S-M,  Cockpit Drill (read)

– M-S-M,  Mirror – Signal – Manoeuvre (read)

– P-O-M,  Prepare – Observe – Move (read)

– P-S-L,  Position – Speed – Look (read)



On your first driving lesson with an instructor, you should be introduced to the cockpit drill.  This is the very first thing you will do on all of your lessons thereafter to get the car ready for you to drive.

This routine is important as it will ensure you can reach all of the controls and set up the car mirrors correctly to ensure you can see what is behind and to the side of the vehicle.  It should also be done following the correct DSSSM sequence.







Perhaps one of the most important routines in driving and definitely something you should get used to as early into your learning as possible is the MSM routine.

– MIRROR (s)



1. Before you do anything that involves a change of speed, position or direction you should always ensure you check your mirrors very carefully to assess how you are going to affect other road uses and to ensure it is safe to carry out your maneuver.  Start with the middle mirror and then a side mirror (left or right) depending on which way you are going to be moving or turning. It is not necessary to check all three mirrors.

2. Once you have checked your mirrors then you can give a signal if it is required.  Make sure it is correct, correctly timed and not confusing. 

3. Then you can carefully and safely make your maneuver. 


To add some structure to moving off you can use the POM routine.  It is helpful to go through each stage in turn, it will also ensure you do not forget something important when moving off.




Preparing the car

1. Before you move away you need to prepare the car.  It is pointless looking around to see if it is safe to move away unless you are ready to go!

a) Turn on the engine

b) Put your foot on the brake and select drive (automatic lessons)

c) Remove handbrake,  keeping your foot on the footbrake so the car does not move.

Then the car is then prepared.  Use common sense as well, use your judgment at all times and only get the car ready if you are actually ready to go.


Once the car is prepared you need to check your mirrors and do not forget to check the blindspot.


Once you are prepared, have checked the mirrors and blindspot and it is safe to go you can move.  But always make sure it is safe to go first, double-check if you are unsure. 


There are many times the P S. L routine are used, but mainly at junctions. 





When dealing with junctions in the important that you position the vehicle in the correct position.  The correct position can also reaffirm a signal or can be used instead of a signal in some situations.


The correct and safe speed is always important.  Sometimes this can also mean coming to a complete stop.


Looking at the way ahead, and looking at junctions is highly important aspect of driving.  Always be on the lookout for hazards, other traffic, pedestrians and cyclists.  

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