The Checks You Should Make Before Driving
By: Richard Jenkins
It is essential for every car driver to run through a series of pre-drive checks to ensure a safe and comfortable journey. These checks are called the cockpit drill and now even form part of the UK practical driving test.
Firstly check that the doors, boot and even bonnet are correctly shut.
Adjust your seat and steering wheel so that you are in the correct driving position.
Adjust your head restraint so that it is the correct position. Remember the head restraint is there to prevent whiplash injuries so it is important it is positioned correctly. The base of the restraint should should be level with the base of your skull where it meets the top of the neck, and the restraint should be about an inch away from the back of your head whilst driving.
Make sure your side and rear view mirrors are positioned to give a clear view behind. You should be able to see the view behind clearly and quickly, with a flick of the eyes.
Confirm that the parking brake is on is and that the car is in neutral gear (park if driving an automatic). Starting the engine when in gear results in the car jumping forwards, or backwards if in reverse gear.
Put your seat belt on. Remember the laws states that whilst driving a car you must wear your seatbelt at all times, except when performing a reversing manoeuvre or if you have a medical exemption certificate. For comfort and safety you should adjust the height of the seatbelt so that the belt gives a firm pressure over the top of your right shoulder, with no gap between the belt and the front of your shoulder.
If driving for any length of time then it is important to make sure you are seated in a comfortable way. However remember you must be able to reach all the controls from foot pedals to dashboard switches without stretching, and you shouldn't sit too close to the steering wheel as this could be dangerous in a collision. To obtain a driving position which fulfils these requirements:
Elevate your seat as high as you can without your head touching the roof. Then position the seat forwards so that you can easily depress the clutch and accelerator pedals.
Adjust the height and reach of the steering wheel so that your hands whilst holding the steering wheel rest slightly lower than your shoulders. Make sure the wheel or your hands don't block your view of the instrument panel.
Recline the seat back to the point where your shoulders and upper back are resting comfortably on the seat and your arms are slightly bent when you hold the steering wheel in the ten-to-two position. Don't sit too upright, as this may put pressure on and strain your wrists and shoulders as you lean forward to grip the wheel. Don't recline back too far as this will result in your neck muscles having to work harder to support your head.
Start the engine and wait for all the warning lights, such as oil pressure, air-bag, traction control etc have gone out before moving away.
Richard Jenkins is owner of the driving test and driving schools website. A site for learner drivers which provides guides on topics such as the driving theory test and the car insurance for learner drivers
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