This tutorial is suited to those who are learning to drive either a traditional automatic car, or an electric car, all of which are automatics. This is an in depth tutorial that when followed correctly, will enable you to move off to test standard. Before you begin the moving off in an automatic car exercise, you should have knowledge on:
- Car controls
- Cockpit drill
- Observation and setting the mirrors
- How to park next to the kerb without hitting it (reference points)
When you carry out the moving off in an automatic car procedure, it does of course also include stopping the car. But to make it easier to understand, it’s best to divide it into individual sections and as such, we’re going to deal only with the moving off part in this tutorial.
This tutorial is using the exact same techniques as a driving instructor uses for moving off from the left-side of the road and stopping on the left, a short distance ahead. If you’re teaching a family member or friend to drive, follow this guide closely and ensure that the learner carries out the procedure correctly each and every time.
Where to practice moving off in an automatic car
Due to this likely being your first attempt at driving on a public road, it’s important that you choose your location carefully. Park up on the left side of the road and choose a street that is:
- Straight: You don’t want to deal with going round corners yet.
- Quiet: At this stage, you want to learn the technique and not worry about other traffic too much.
- Level surface: You’ll be learning how to move off on a hill later.
- Clear visible kerb line: This helps with a visible reference for stopping the car.
- Centre road line: Starting out on a road that has a centre road line marking helps with reference points.
Handing Over Controls to the Leaner Driver
Before handing control of the car over to the learner driver, ensure that you have parked parallel to the kerb and around 20 to 30 cm from the kerb and your steering wheel is straight. Additionally, ensure the parking brake is applied, the gear lever is in the Park (P) position and that the engine is switched off.
To make the process of learning to driver easier, we often use reference points and moving off and stopping is no different. Before the learner driver attempts to move off and stop the car, there are two reference points that might help when stopping the car alongside the kerb. When the car has been parked alongside the kerb as described above, the learner driver should set up these reference points before moving off. For a guide on what these reference points are, see how to park a car next to the kerb without hitting it.
Moving Off in an Automatic Car
Moving off in an automatic car is divided into three sections; Prepare, Observe and Move (POM). POM is a driving routine that instructors use for teaching learners the correct procedure for moving off from a stationary position. You’ll need to use the POM routine each and every time you move off. POM stands for:
Prepare your car so that it’s ready to pull away if the road is clear.
Look into your mirrors and blind spots to ensure it’s safe before moving off.
If it’s clear and safe to do so, move off.
More About POM
The Prepare, Observe and Move routine is used in any situation when moving off from a stationary position. For further information about the POM driving routine and when to use it, see Prepare, Observe, Move (POM) driving routine.
Now that you’re going to be sitting in the driver’s seat, first run through the cockpit drill to ensure that you can reach all the car controls comfortably, that you’re safely buckled up and that your mirrors are set up correctly. If you share your car with another driver, you’ll need to carry out the cockpit drill every time you get into the driver’s seat for the first time. This is how you prepare an automatic car for moving off:
- Check to ensure the parking brake is on.
- Check to ensure the gear lever is in Park (P).
- Place your right foot firmly onto the brake pedal.
- Then start the car’s engine. As a safety feature, most new automatic cars will not start unless the brake pedal is first pressed. Keep your foot firmly pressed on the brake pedal and only release it when you move off.
- Keep your right hand on the steering wheel, in your normal steering wheel hand position.
- Using your left hand, place the gear lever into Drive (D).
- From the gear lever, rest your left hand on the handbrake lever, or over the parking brake button ready to release it.
That it, your automatic car is ready for moving off. But before you do move off, you need to carry out some observations to ensure it’s safe to move the car.
Effective observations are not only critical for remaining safe before moving off, but are closely scrutinised by the examiner during a driving test. Now that your automatic car is prepared, carry out these observations before moving off:
- Check over your left shoulder, through the rear passenger window, into the blind spot.
- Check the left door mirror.
- Look ahead.
- Check the rear-view mirror.
- Followed by the right door mirror.
- Finish off by checking over your right shoulder into the blind spot.
It’s important to not only carry out the observations, but to act accordingly with what you see. Your instructor or supervising passenger will help with this. When you begin driving, carrying out observations will likely take time, but aim to complete the 6 point check as quickly as you can, while also ensuring that you correctly observe and act on what you see.
More About Observations
To learn more on the observational technique for moving off, either from the left and right-side of the road, plus a quicker minimal observational check, see the mirrors and observational checks before moving off tutorial. Additionally, read this guide on the importance of checking blind spots when moving off from the side of the road.
After completing observations, you’ll need to decide on whether you should signal to the right. You signal to the right to let others know that you intend on moving off. If there are other road users that may benefit from seeing your signal, then you must signal. Even if there are pedestrians on the pavement, it’s still worth signalling just in case they might cross the road. If there is nobody who’ll benefit from seeing your signal, then you don’t have to, but if you’re not sure, you can signal anyway.
More About Signalling
During the driving test, examiners are strict when it comes to signalling. They like to see the appropriate use of signals so not to confuse or mislead other road users. Read the should you signal when moving off tutorial for an insight into the proper use of signals when moving off.
We’ve prepared the car, carried out effective observations and finally, we can move the car off. But if you’ve never driven a car before, you’ll need some idea for operating the controls. To give you an idea of how much you’ll need to turn the steering wheel, think of it as a clock and we’ll use minutes as a reference of how much to turn the steering wheel.
- When it’s safe to move off, release the handbrake, or if you have an electronic parking brake, push the button down.
- Place your left hand onto the steering wheel.
- Release your right foot from the brake pedal and place it over the accelerator pedal.
- Your automatic car will now begin to creep forward.
- ‘Ease and squeeze‘ the accelerator pedal. You only need to press it a very small amount, think about the width of a pound coin.
- Turn the steering wheel 5 minutes to the right. Your car will now begin moving out into the road at an angle.
- When you’re approximately 1 metre away from the kerb, you’ll need to make the car parallel with the kerb. To do this, steer 10 minutes to the left.
- When your car is straight and parallel with the kerb, steer 5 minutes to the right. Your car is now steering in a straight line, down the centre of your lane.
- If you applied a signal to the right, cancel it.
- Finally, check your interior mirror so that you know what’s going on behind you.
That’s it, you’ve now successfully moved off, to test standard, in an automatic car. During the driving test, examiners are critical when it comes to test candidates moving off. They will ask that you park up and move off on more than one occasion to ensure that you do so safely and under full control.
Whether you’re in a traditional automatic car or an electric car, practice this tutorial over and over until you can carry the exercise out confidently.
Driving Test Faults When Moving Off
There are of course many faults, some minor and some serious or dangerous that can be recorded on the test sheet when moving off in a car during the test. To get an idea of what the most common faults are and how to avoid them, see common driving test faults: moving off.
Pulling Up on the Left
Now that you have read through the moving off in an automatic car tutorial, you’ll need to learn how to safely stop on the left, alongside the kerb. Continue to stopping on the left in an automatic car tutorial.
Tips for Private Practice
If you’re giving a learner driver private practice, read up on our tips for teaching moving off and stopping.