Good Driver Foot Control Hand Control The Driving Mirror
Beginning to Drive Corner & Junctions Emerging at Junctions Manceovring
  Making Things a Little Easier Good Driving Tips

Hand Control

Steering Wheel :

This should be held lightly but firmly, with your hands at or between the ten-to-two or quarter-to-three positions. Always use both hands for the steering, except when you need one hand for another driving job. Never have both hands off the steering wheel at the same time. You will find that it takes very little effort to turn the wheel when the car is in motion. There is no need to grip it tightly.



The next rule to remember is not to cross your hands on the steering wheel, when you are turning it. If you do, you lose a lot of control over the steering, which can be dangerous. The correct way to steer round a corner is to feed the rim of the steering wheel through your hands with a pull-push movement. If you are turning left, the left hand should be moved to a higher position (but not past twelve o' clock) and the wheel pulled downwards, while the right hand is lid down the wheel. You can then push up with the right hand while the left hand, in turn, is slid up the wheel. If you are turning right, the movements are reversed.

As the turn is completed, you must straighten up.  To do this, the steering wheel must be fed back through your hands  in the

opposite direction. We say 'fed back' because  you must not let  the  wheel spin back on its own - there will be a tendency for it to do this. So keep control by feeding the wheel back.


Handbrake :


The handbrake is provided to hold the vehicle still when it is halted or parked. In most cars the handbrake operates only on the two rear wheels. This is why it should not be used to stop the car while it is moving, except in case of failure of the footbrake. Applying brakes to the rear wheels only can cause a nasty skid.

The handbrake is fitted with a catch to lock it in the 'on' position. To apply the handbrake you have to release the catch by pressing the button, or other fitment, on the end of the handbrake, pull it hard on, and then release the button. The catch will now lock the brake in the 'on' position.

To  release the handbrake,  first pull  it as if to apply it harder - this

will release the catch more easily - then, still pressing the button, the handbrake can be moved to the 'off' position. (On some cars, wisting the brake handle takes the place of pressing a button.)


Gear lever and gearbox :


The gear lever is used to change from one gear to another. The gears, contained in a gearbox, enable the driver to match the engine power to the speed of the car and the load it has to move.

There will also be a reverse gear to drive the car backwards. Fig shows some of the possible arrangements, which are sometimes marked on top of the gear lever. The centre part, marked N in the diagram, is known as neutral. When the gear lever is moved out of one of the gear positions and into or through neutral, the link between the engine and the wheels is broken even though the clutch pedal is not pushed down.

To select the gear you need, you first have to push the clutch  pedal right down.  Then you can move the gear lever into  the  right

position for the gear you want. You will see from the Fig that whenever you change from one gear to another, you always move the gear lever through neutral. New drivers should make it a point to learn all the gear lever positions so that they know exactly which way to move the lever without having to look down at it. With practice, changing gear will become second nature.



The lowest or first gear is the most powerful. But it will drive the car only at slow speeds, and is used for moving off, manoeuvring at slow speeds and climbing steep hills. After moving off, you will have to use successively higher gears - from first to second and so on until you get to top gear. This process is known as changing up. Top is the least powerful gear, but it gives the widest range of speeds. When you have to drive at a slower speed, you should change to a lower gear. This is known as 'changing down'. We shall be referring to changing up and changing down a great deal - and explaining how to do it - in the following chapters.

Fig. 2: Gear Lever Positions


Driving Mirror :


The most vital and important visual aid is the driving mirror. This is usually fitted inside the car near the top centre of the windscreen. It is so important that the whole of the next chapter is about how to use it properly.

  Visual Aids :
  Most modern cars have dials and gauges on the facia below the windscreen. These tell you how the car is functioning. Apart from a speedometer and a petrol gauge, you may also have lights to indicate you about the engine oil pressure, the electrical system, headlights and beams, direction indicators etc. Your instructor will tell you how to understand and act upon these visual aids.

Direction Indicators :

Most private cars, commercial vehicles, are fitted with direction indicators. The conventional method is indication of the arm towards the turning side. But most modern vehicles have flashing indicators at both front and back, and some have them at the sides as well. Most cars also have an audible warning (usually a tickling noise). A switch, usually a small-lever, fitted on or near the steering column, works all indicators.


Most direction indicators are self-cancelling, which means that as you straighten up after a turn, the signal switches itself off. But be careful. If your change in direction is only slight or if your car has no self-cancelling, you will have to switch off the indicators by hand. After you have made a turn, check that your indicators are switched off - otherwise you will mislead other drivers, possibly with serious results.


Windscreen wipers and washers :

Windscreen wipers keep the windscreen clear of rain, snow or fog. When the road is wet, your windscreen will collect dirt, water and mud. In these conditions a windscreen washer is almost as necessary as the wipers. Wipers and washer are worked by switches / buttons on the facia or in some other position within easy reach of the driver. With practice you should be able to switch the wipers / washer on or off without taking your eyes off the road. The washer switch squirts jets of clean water on to the windscreen. By using it with the wipers, any dirt on your windscreen can quickly be washed off.



Never switch on your wipers when the windscreen is dry. If you do, you will scratch the glass because there are always tiny specks of grit on it. And a scratched windscreen can add to dazzle at night and in strong sunlight. If you haven't a windscreen washer, use a sponge and plenty of water to clean the screen before wiping it dry. You won't be able to see properly through a dirty windscreen.


In time all windscreens are likely to get covered with tiny scratches. Prevent such damage for as long as you can by keeping the windscreen (and windows) clean and make a habit of washing the wiper blades as well.


Lighting controls :

Your car will have two white sidelight, two red rear lights, two red reflectors, a white lamp to light the rear number plate, and headlights for driving at night. The light switch normally puts the side, rear and number plate lights on together, and then switches the headlights on as well. There will be two settings (usually operated by a separate switch) for the headlights - main beam, and 'dipped' for use when the main beam would dazzle. As we have already said, most cars have a warning light to show when the headlights are on main beam.


Horn :

The button operating the horn is often in the middle of the steering wheel on top of the steering column. But it may be on the end of the direction indicator switch, or on some other fitting that can be reached without taking either hand off the rim of the steering wheel.


Ignition switch and starter :

Every car has a switch, usually operated by a key. This switches on the electrical circuits necessary to start and run engine. There is generally a red warning light, which comes on as soon as the key is turned to show that the circuits are connected.


In some cars, the starter is combined with the ignition switch and is worked by turning the key further in a clockwise direction. In other, there is a separate knob, switch or button, which has to be operated after the ignition has been switched on. It is important to release the starter as soon as the engine starts and never to use it when the engine is running. Otherwise, serious and expensive damage can result.


Choke :
  All cars have some form of choke, which is a device to help start the engine when cold. By pulling the knob out, you get more petrol into the mixture of petrol and air, which the engine uses. How far you need to pull it varies from car to car and depends on how cold, the weather and engine are.

Always remember to push the choke in again as soon as the engine warms up. If you don't, you will harm the engine and waste petrol. The engine will also run unevenly and too fast; this could be dangerous and will certainly make driving more difficult.


Some cars have automatic choke devices, which do away with the need for a separate choke control.