Errors In The Hazard Routine
You are only allowed 6 driver errors throughout the test, and you cannot suffer even a single serious or dangerous error. If you do so, you will not be successful.
Many of the errors committed by trainees are due to poor observations in the driving manoeuvres. These are dealt with in the relevant sections of this site, with advice on how to avoid them.
But these errors only account for a small part of the errors accrued by trainees on test. The DVSA will not release the figures in detail at this time, but in our experience, It is probably true to say that a great many tests are failed due to the trainee committing more than 6 driver errors. In fact, this probably accounts for the majority of test failures.
Without any doubt, most of these driver errors are down to errors in the MS-PSL routine.
If you have any further facts and figures, please contact us so that we can share them with trainees everywhere.
So, lets look at the most common MS-PSL errors . . .
Not Just A Routine For Junctions
Many trainees, and even some ADI trainers, forget that the MS-PSL routine is to be used as a method of dealing with all hazards encountered, not just the obvious ones such as junctions.
For instance, you see a car about to pull out from a side junction ahead. It’s a hazard, or could very quickly become one, so start the system with a mirror check . . .
Sometimes you don’t have to use each and every phase, but you should always start with checking the mirrors, then consider each of the other phases in turn if necessary.
In the example above, you anticipate the vehicle pulling out, so you check the mirrors. The vehicle either stays put, or pulls out in plenty of time without you having to change speed or direction. You don’t have to give a signal (brakes) or alter your position, so you can end the system at the mirrors phase.
The point to make is that you have to start the system for each and every hazard you see or anticipate. You should be doing this on a constant basis throughout the drive. You should find yourself checking the interior mirror every 5 or 6 seconds as a minimum.
Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall
The most common error we encounter is a complete failure to check the mirror(s) before carrying out any action. It cannot be stressed enough – the system is a system, not just something we talk about. You must check the mirrors before you do anything that could change your speed or direction.
There is no other way of achieving this than constant practice. Practice with your trainer, practice alone. Get the system into your head, into your very soul. Make it an instinct, so that you can’t help but check the mirror(s) as soon as you see a hazard. The SE will spot the hazard, believe me, they are very, very good at it. They’ll then watch carefully to make sure that you run through the system. And the system starts with mirrors. Get the first step right, every time, and the rest of the sequence will fall into place.
The Final ‘Life Saver’
The final phase of the MS-PSL system is look. Before we change course or direction, the very last place we should look is into the appropriate door mirror. Often called the ‘final’ mirror check, or the life saver by motorcyclists.
Remember with our routine for moving off, we have no delay between the observation phase and the moving phase? That’s because the traffic situation behind us can change in an instant. Well, it’s just the same with our intention to turn left or right, or even just to adjust our road position to the slightest degree. Just before the wheels of the car start to turn, you must check the appropriate wing mirror.
In our case, the final check could be a life saver, just as it has saved the lives of many motorcyclists. The only difference is that you could be saving someone else’s life. Look for the cyclists. Imagine you have someone on a moped following you round the test route, always trying to catch you out. Look for them, and you won’t be surprised when you see them.
Step By Step, Phase By Phase
Another common error encountered, is when trainees try to perform two phases of the system at the same time.
The most common of these is at the very start of the routine . . . mirrors and Signals. The common error is to check the interior mirror, then apply the signal whilst still checking this mirror, or to do so whilst simultaneously turning to look into the appropriate wing mirror.
This leads to bad habits. Bad habits become permanent habits that can be hard to get out of. Before you know it, you’ll be applying the signal before you check the mirrors, not just at the same time. Not a good idea.
The phases of the system can be thought of as the slices of a birthday cake. Don’t get greedy. Don’t eat two slices at once. Don’t even try to eat two slices at once.
Step by step, phase by phase. In your practice sessions, try to positively separate the mirror and signal phases of the system. Don’t even reach a finger towards the indicator stem until you’ve checked the appropriate mirrors.
Get the system into your mind as a continuous, step by step routine. Eat the cake one slice at a time.
Out Of Sequence
The other very, very common error is that of applying the system, but out of sequence. A very typical example . . . trainees tend to see a hazard, whatever it may be, and react by braking then checking the mirrors and going through the full routine.
This is clearly in contravention of our step by step approach. There is a definite phase for change of speed, and it is not carried out before checking the mirrors, except in the unusual circumstances of the Emergency Stop. You simply must not brake or slow down, or change direction, or do anything at all, until you have checked the mirror(s). The mirrors are the first phase in the system. There is no flexibility in this at all. The SE will be watching, and you may just get away with missing a mirror check, but you won’t get away with missing any more.
Positively force yourself to check the mirrors before you do anything. Look well ahead, anticipate when you may have to change speed or direction, and check the mirrors first.
Another common mistake is to get the car into position, then check the mirrors and go through the routine. Get the routine in the right order. Don’t collect driving errors for such easily avoidable mistakes.
As I’ve said above, the system starts with mirrors. Get the first step right, every time, and the rest of the sequence will fall into place