Learn To Drive Syllabus

Find out below what it is that you will learn on the journey to becoming a safe driver.

In each Skill of the syllabus, you'll be graded on a 5 star rating on how well you do. To be ready to attempt a driving test you must have covered the whole syllabus. The driving test is based upon every aspect of the learning to drive syllabus.

  • Skill introduced
  • Skill introduced but under instruction
  •  Skill carried out but with prompted help
  • Skill carried out but sometimes need help
  • Skill carried out independently

You can find out more about the syllabus on the gov.uk website

The first aspect of learning to drive in the syllabus is finding out about setting the car up for you as the driver. 

The cockpit drill goes over everything you need to do to make sure you're safe and comfortable before you move the car, such as making sure the mirrors are positioned correctly.

You'll go through a routine to help you remember what to do;

D-S-S-S-M

– Doors -

Making sure the doors are securely closed.

– Seat -

Using the adjustments to set up the seat so that you have a good view of the road and you can reach the controls comfortably.

– Steering -

Adjusting the steering wheel so that you can reach and use it comfortably.

– Seatbelt -

Making sure that your seatbelt of on securely and that your passengers are safe.

– Mirrors -

Setting up the mirrors so that you have a good view of the road behind and you can make necessary assessments before you take action.

There are many controls around the driver for use in generally driving the car but also for when you suddenly need to clear your windscreen or turn on the air con. 

You will need to know where the controls are and what they are used for before you drive so that you can use them safely on the go. 

The controls are designed and positioned to be used at arms length and easily accessible while driving. 

Remember that you must make sure that it is safe before you use a control. For example, it wouldn't be a good idea to look down at the controls when you are approaching a pedestrian crossing.

The basic car controls

      • Foot controls: accelerator, clutch, foot brake
      • Hand controls: handbrake, steering wheel, indicators, gear lever.

As part of your driving test, you will be expected to answer 2 questions based on vehicle safety. 

The first questions is called the "Tell Me' questions and will be asked at the beginning of the driving test. 

The second question is called the "Show Me" question and will be asked during the driving test. You will be expected to carry out a 'task' whilst making sure it is safe to do while you're on the go. 

You can read through a list of the show me/tell me questions here

 

Keeping a good position in the road is important for the safety of not only yourself but others around you. Your road position will also act as a signal to other road users. 

Your road position will vary depending on where you are driving but as a general rule, keep about 1 metre away from the kerb on a clear road. Drive in the centre of your lane on a dual carriageway. Position the car well when turning to re-enforce your indicator. 

The first basic aspect about driving a car is learning how to move off and stop. 

In your first lesson, you learn how to move the car using the POM and how to make sure it is safe to move away taking into account pedestrians and other road user.

You'll also learn how to then stop the car at the side of the road using the MSM Routine.

This forms the basics of moving and stopping the car and can then be applied to other situations when you need to move or stop, for example, at a junction.

 

The mirror positioned around the car are there to be used. They are often forgotten about but remain important to the assessment of how you actions are going to affect the people around you. 

Use your mirrors well ahead and 

-Before signalling

-Before changing direction 

-Before changing speed

Using a signal is important to let other people around you know what you intend to do and avoids confusion. 

Your indicators are not the only way to indicate but the most often used. You can also indicate using your road position, brake lights, head lights, hand signals amongst other methods.

You should be careful to only indicate when it is going to benefit another road user. 

You should signal in good time but too early that is causes confusion. 

Using a signal forms part of the MSM (Mirrors-Signal-Manouevre routine)

Letting other people know what you’re about to do keeps you and them safe by preventing any confusion. Even if you can’t see anyone who needs your signal, there could be a driver or pedestrian you haven’t seen.

You'll start by learning how to turn left and right at basic junctions emerging and approaching where it is quiet and have time to take it all in. 

You'll then progress on to busier and more complexed junctions. 

You'll use the MSPSL (Mirrors-Signal-Manoeuvre(Position-Speed-Look) routine to deal with junctions.

You'll also learn to Look-Assess-Decide and Act at this stage. 

You'll learn to drive at a speed that is suitable for the road and conditions you are driving on to make sure make progress. 

Its not important to get to places quickly but it can also be dangerous to drive too slow for the road when everyone around you is not. 

It's important to identify what is happening around you and judge the appropriate speed. 

A big skills to learn along the way is becoming a mind reader! You will need to anticipate the actions of road users and pedestrians to avoid dangerous situations, remain safe and keep everyone around you safe.

You'll need to look well ahead and plan well. It is your responsibility as a driver to stay safe and ensure you don't put other people in danger.

This skill will also be learned as part of your preparation and revision for the hazard perception part of your theory test. 

Roundabouts can be very challenging to some people but there are some general rules to take into account. 

-Drive Clockwise round

-Keep to the left when going starlight ahead, unless a road marking or sign indicates otherwise.

-Use signals well to let other people know where you are going

-Stay in your lane at spiral roundabouts

-Look to the right early on approach and plan how you will enter

Generally, roundabouts can feel fast paced but watch your speed and remain calm.

You'll learn how to plan ahead and use other vehicles around you to help deal with roundabouts. 

A good skill to learns to adapt to different road conditions. 

You will drive in different weather conditions which will affect how you drive. 

You also drive in different levels of traffic which again, will affect how you drive. 

Planning ahead plays a big part in adapting how you're going to drive. 

As a pedestrian, you'll have crossed the road using a dedicated pedestrian crossing at some point. 

Learning to drive, you'll learn what types of crossings you'll deal with as a driver. 

      • Pelican crossings – button for green man, red man
      • Toucan crossings – for bikes and pedestrians
      • Zebra crossings – slow down and be ready to stop when there are people waiting
      • Puffin crossings – can sense when there are people crossing
      • Pegasus crossings – have an extra (higher) button for people on horseback

As with a lot of what you do when driving, planning ahead and recognising crossings early plays a big part in dealing with then safely. 

 

Dual Carriageways have 2 (and often more) lanes of traffic separated by a central barrier.

Dealing with dual carriageways can often be scary at first. 

You'll need to learn how to join and leave them, identify the speed limit, drive at a safe distance from the vehicles ahead and overtake.

Planning ahead and giving yourself time to adapt and react to changes in levels and speed of traffic are important to avoiding difficult situations. 

The main aspects of a manoeuvre are clutch control at slow speeds and observations.

Quite often, learner drivers get anxious about their manoeuvres in a driving test but they form about 5% of your driving test. 

Introducing manoeuvres, you'll learn clutch controls and observations. If you pick these up well, manoeuvring the car into a parking space will come much easier. 

You'll learn these specific manoeuvre exercises;

-Drive into and reverse out of a parking space

-Reverse into and drive out of a parking space

-Reverse into a space between cars at the side of the road (Parallel Park)

-Pull up on the right side of the road, reverse 2 car lengths and rejoin the traffic

-Turn the car around in the road to drive the opposite direction

With. good planning, anticipation and awareness, you should never have to stop your car in an emergency, however you never know. 

You'll learn to stop the car as quick as you can while remaining in control of the vehicle. 

 

Getting around and knowing where you're going ensures that you can drive safely and anticipate.

There are 2 main methods of getting around if you don't know where you are. 

-Using a SAT NAV

-Using Road Signs.

The most common method now is using a SAT NAV whether it be built into your car, on a dedicated device like a TOM TOM or on a mobile device. 

You'll learn both methods of navigating in your driving lessons. 

There are many controls around the car other than the main ones you use to drive.

You'll need to know how to use controls such as;

-windscreen wipers

-Headlights

-Heater controls

You'll also need to know what the lights mean that come up on the dashboard.

People can be unpredictable. Some of the main skills you'll learn in order to deal with other traffic is

-Planning

-Awareness

-Anticipation

If you can use these skills well, you better deal with whatever happens out on the road and most importantly keep yourself and everyone around you safe. 

There are many signs, signals and road markings that are designed and positioned to help you drive safe.

You'll learn a lot of these when you prepare for your theory test but in your driving lessons, you'll put that knowledge into practise.