Lesson 1, Topic 1
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Cockpit Drill & Controls

The first part of your very first driving lesson is about learning the Cockpit Drill.

This is the steps you go through to get yourself seated comfortably in the car seat, so that you are able to reach the controls properly, and you are in a position ready to safely drive the car.


  • Doors
  • Seat
  • Steering
  • Seatbelt
  • Mirrors

This is abbreviated as: D S S S M

You might find that you already know a lot of this information, especially if you have been a passenger in a car.


It is your responsibility as the driver to make sure that all of the doors, including the boot, are closed properly.

A lot of modern day cars will notify you if any door is not properly closed.


The driver’s seat will need to be adjusted so that you can reach the foot and hand controls properly.

You are looking to have a slight bend at your knee, in your left leg, when you have pressed the left pedal (clutch) all the way down.

It is very important that your head restraint is correctly adjusted. It will help to protect your head and neck if you are involved in an incident.


The steering wheel position can be changed.

To check it, hold on to either side of the steering wheel.

You need to have a slight bend in your elbows.

The wheel should not be in the way of the dashboard dials…you need to be able to read them.

The wheel should not be in the way of the windscreen….you ned to see outside clearly


The law says that drivers and car passengers must wear a seatbelt while they are driving forwards on a public road (unless they are medically exempt).

It is your responsibility as the driver to make sure that all passengers under aged 14 and are wearing a seatbelt.

It is the passengers own responsibility to make sure they wear a seatbelt if they are aged 14 years and older.

The seatbelt must be firmly clicked in place and have no twists and turns in any part of the belt.

Twists and turns can cause you a lot of injury if you have an incident.


It is very important that you make sure your 3 mirrors are correctly adjusted so you can see what’s happening all around the car while you are driving.

The middle mirror should be adjusted so:

  • it frames the back window

Make sure that you don’t touch the glass while moving the mirror, grip the plastic surround instead.

The door mirrors should be adjusted so that:

  • (side to side) you can see about 2 fingers width of the side of the car
  • (up and down) you can see half road and half sky

It is important that you know that the glass in the door mirrors is curved. This means that what you see in the door mirrors will look smaller and further away than it actually is.

The middle mirror is flat glass. This means that what you see in the middle mirror is a true reflection.

In your first lesson, you’ll also go over the Foot Controls in a car.


  • Accelerator (Gas)
  • Brake
  • Clutch

THE GAS is the furthest right pedal. Use it with your right foot. You press it to increase the amount of fuel going to the engine.

How to use it – press the pedal gently and progressively until you are at the speed you want to be. You will always have your right foot either pressing or covering the brake or gas pedal.

THE BRAKE is the middle pedal. Use it with your right foot. You press it to slow the car down, or bring the car to a stop.

How to use it – press the pedal gently and progressively until you are at the speed you want to be.


THE CLUTCH is the furthest left pedal. Use it with your left foot. You press it down just before you change gear and just before the car comes to a stop.

How to use it – press the clutch pedal all the way down to separate the clutch plates and break the connection between the drive wheels and the engine.

Bring it up smoothly, to the count of 4, to gradually bring the clutch plates together again. 

Rest your foot in the space to the left of the pedal. Bringing the clutch pedal up too quickly can cause jerky driving and maybe stalling.

How much to press the Brake and Gas pedals:

You will be asked to press or release the pedals by ‘a bit’.

Imagine (or have a look) at how thick a pound coin is.

This thickness is how much is meant by ‘a bit’ or ‘a bit more’ or ‘a bit less’.

Your Spot On instructor will explain this in more detail to you in your lesson.


There are many hand controls in a car, and the ones you are introduced to on your first lesson will depend on you, your instructor and the weather. For example, if it is raining you will have to use the wipers.

You will at least cover:

  • Steering Wheel
  • Gear Lever
  • Handbrake


You will be encouraged to start by holding the steering wheel in the 10 – 2 position. (imagine where the number 2 and the 10 are on a clock face)
You will be get some practice using 3 steering methods. These are:

  • Pull Push steering
  • Fixed steering
  • Crossover steering

You can see examples of these in the Steering Skills lesson


You change gear when you speed the car up or slow the car down.

In your first lesson you may only use 1st and 2nd gear, but you will soon move through all 5 gears and reverse gear.

1st gear has the most pull, so this is the gear you need to use in your first lesson to get the car moving.

You should not look at the gear lever as you are driving along. You need to keep your eyes on the road. You will soon learn where all of the gears are.


The Parking Brake is often called the Hand Brake.

Some cars don’t have a Hand Brake anymore though. They can have automatic parking brake or a button.

You need to use a Parking Brake to secure the car when you are parked or waiting in traffic.

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