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RED First Car Awards 2018

Lesson Guide

Our instructors create tailored lesson plans for every student to ensure they understand and apply all the basic rules, skills and manoeuvres, at a pace that suits them.

To become a safe and confident driver and to pass the theory and practical tests, the following areas need to be covered.

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1. Cockpit drill

Ready for take-off? This is your checklist!

  • Doors
  • Parking brake
  • Seat position
  • Head restraint
  • Steering wheel position
  • Interior and exterior mirrors
  • Seat belt
  • Fuel levels

Precautions before starting the engine:

  • Parking brake again
  • Gear lever in neutral position

2. Safety checks

Your car needs to be in good working order before you turn the key in the ignition. These are the things you need to check:

  • Petrol
  • Oil
  • Water, screenwash, coolant and brake fluid
  • Electrics
  • Tyres
  • Brakes
  • Steering

3. Moving away and stopping

Always use the MSM (Mirror – Signal – Manoeuvre) and PSL (Position – Speed – Look) routines.

4. Signals

You need to:

  • Give clear, well-timed signals when necessary
  • Know and understand the difference between fog lights, reversing lights, indicator light and brake lights
  • Respond safely to the signals from other road users
  • Understand arm/hand signals given by other road users or any official directing traffic

5. Position on the road and lane discipline

To make sure you always have a safe position on the road, you need to:

  • Use the MSM (Mirror – Signal – Manoeuvre) and PSL (Position – Speed – Look) routinesUnderstand how other road users such as cyclists and lorries position themselves on the road
  • Plan ahead and make sure you move into the correct lane in time
  • Understand how a wide or narrow road affects your position on the road
  • Make sure you keep in the correct lane when driving around roundabouts and position on bends
  • Take up the correct lane or position on one-way streets
  • Leave enough clearance when passing stationary vehicles and obstructions.

6. Mirrors and blind spots

You should always check your mirrors before changing speed or direction


  • Stopping
  • Signalling
  • Overtaking
  • Changing lanes
  • Turning right or left
  • Changing speed
  • Passing a parked vehicle etc etc

You should turn around to look in the blind spot when you’re stationary, for example before:

  • Moving off
  • Opening your door

7. Junctions and roundabouts

Do you know the difference between a Y-junction and crossroads, or a roundabout and an unmarked junction?

When approaching a junction or roundabout, you’ve got to slow down in time so you won’t have to brake harshly if you need to stop.

Always watch out for the more vulnerable road users such as children and cyclists.

8. Traffic

Can you deal safely with meeting, crossing and overtaking traffic?

Do you know when it’s illegal to overtake another vehicle?

9. Speed

What the appropriate speed is depends on:

  • Official speed limit
  • Condition of the road
  • Weather
  • Traffic
  • Presence of other road users such as pedestrians and cyclists

10. Controlled Stop (Emergency Stop)

Hopefully, you won’t use this skill often because your eyes are always on the road and you can identify hazards well in advance. If you do need to brake quickly, it is important to keep both hands on the wheel and try to stop in a straight line.

If your car doesn’t have ABS brakes, you run the risk of skidding. If this starts to happen, fully release your brake pedal and then reapply. If the rear of your car is sliding sideways, you can make up for this by gently steering in the same direction. Press the clutch fully down just before you stop to avoid stalling the engine.

11. Parallel parking

The internet is awash with videos and pictures of drivers making a fool of themselves while parking.
You need a lot of attention, precision, patience and practice to master this skill. Why not get in the right mood with our parking game?

12. Hazard Awareness


You will need to complete a hazard perception test when you take the theory test and you need to pass both parts of the test at the same time. When you are driving you will need to be constantly using your perception skills to spot hazards and be able to plan to deal with them safely. The test is conducted online by showing you clips of road situations. You need to identify any developing hazards and click the mouse – Simple! Watch this video for more information.

13. Turning your car around

If you want to turn your car around to face the opposite direction, you’ll have to choose between:

  • doing a U-turn
  • reversing into a side street
  • completing what used to be known as a ‘3 point turn’.

‘U Turn’

You can complete a ‘U Turn’ in wide roads, by utilising the mouth of a junction opposite you or by turning at a major junction or traffic lights. If the manoeuvre is not allowed in the location, then there will be signs prohibiting this.

Reversing into a side street

Choose a safe, quiet side road or better still, drive round a block of side streets
Avoid reversing from a side road into a main road
Use all your mirrors before you start reversing

  • Check the blind spots behind you for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users
  • Look mainly through the rear window while reversing slowly
  • Check the front of your car before turning, as it will swing out and check blind spots again!
  • Always be prepared to stop and wait for other road users or pedestrians

‘3 point turn’

  • Keep checking your mirrors and blind spots during this manoeuvre
  • Choose a safe and legal and spacious spot
  • Check the road in both directions to make sure it is safe before you move across
  • Move slowly and steer briskly
  • Avoid dry steering: start to turn your wheels in the opposite direction just before you stop
  • When completing the reverse part of this manoeuvre look over your left shoulder through the rear window

14. Planning and independent driving

Once you’re familiar with all the different manoeuvres, your instructor will give you the chance to experience what it will be like to drive after you have passed your test.

Here’s some tips:

  • Look and plan well ahead
  • Don’t panic or change direction suddenly if you take a wrong turning
  • Pay attention to traffic signs and road markings
  • Don’t forget to use the MSM and PSL routines
  • Give signals in good time
  • Use the correct lane
  • Pay attention to other road users

15. Following route directions

You will need to be able to follow route directions in several ways.

  • Directions given by your instructor
  • Directions given by the examiner on your driving test
  • Directions given by road signs
  • Directions given by a satellite navigation device

Your RED instructor will use clear concise instructions so you will never be confused and the examiner will do the same.

You need to be able to follow the directions given by road signs. You will need to choose the correct lane yourself and decide on which signals to use if necessary. You may need to demonstrate you can do this on your driving test.

Satellite navigation devices can be very useful particularly when you are driving in a strange area and looking for a specific address. You may need to demonstrate you can do this on your driving test.

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Where can you find us

Always an instructor near you

Our experienced instructors operate nationwide. So whether you’re learning in Newcastle or Norwich or Plymouth or Preston, we’ll find the perfect instructor to help you on your journey to passing.

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