MS-PSL Hazard Routine
The MS-PSL routine is a systematic, step by step method of dealing with the hazards we are faced with every time we drive a car or motorcycle.
Your training for part 2 should give you a very thorough grounding in the use of the DVSA ‘s hazard routine. This routine forms the backbone of all of the subjects included in the pre set tests that you’ll have to teach at Part 3. Learn it, and learn it well.
Your part 2 driving course will give you the strong foundations that you need for success at Part 3. I cannot stress highly enough just how important this knowledge is.
The routine is simple to learn, but has to be practiced constantly, until it becomes sheer instinct. Thousands upon thousands of driver errors accumulated during part 2 tests are due to simple, easily avoided errors in the MS-PSL routine.
We’ll be showing you what to avoid, and how to use MS-PSL effectively.
Most drivers have heard of the basic ‘MSM’ routine, through the TV adverts and government road safety campaigns a few years ago, but as a driving instructor, you need to know thoroughly all of the component parts of the MSM routine.
MSM stands for Mirror(s), Signal, Manoeuvre. So far, so good.
The first two phases, mirrors and Signals, are set in concrete and cannot be broken down any further. The final phase, however, can be expanded and investigated in more detail.
The third phase, manoeuvre, can be divided into three further phases. These are position, speed and look.
So, the routine Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre becomes:
To further stretch your imagination, the third section of the manoeuvre phase, look, can be further subdivided.
Look becomes look, assess, decide. Some instructors add an extra bit on the end, which they refer to as act.
The full MSM routine is therefore:
Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed, Look, Assess, Decide (act)
If you think about it, every time you find yourself driving towards a hazard such as a junction, you have to decide what to do. But you can’t decide until you’ve assessed the situation, and you can’t assess the situation until you’ve looked to see what’s there.
The look, assess, decide components are therefore relatively natural to most drivers, and are very rarely referred to by trainers. Most instructors and instructor trainers simply refer to the routine as MS-PSL, rather than including the look, assess, decide bit on the end. Indeed, as our learners progress, it’s very common to simply refer to the routine as msm, as even the position, speed and look become fairly natural to most. In the early stages of a learners driving, and certainly as a trainee getting ready for part 2, the more comprehensive MS-PSL routine is the essential minimum.
Applying the Routine to Hazards
Here is a very basic talk through of how we apply the system:
So, you are driving along and you see a hazard . . . perhaps a junction, a sharp bend, or another road user.
The first thing you do is check the mirror, or mirrors, whichever is appropriate.
You then consider a signal and apply one if you consider it necessary. If you are turning at a junction, a signal is always required, without exception. Even if another road user is not there to benefit. The reasons for this are explained in the Signals page.
You then take up the correct position in the road to deal with the hazard
Next, we adjust our speed accordingly and select the appropriate gear. You’ll note that there is no mention of gear in the msm routine, but it is generally accepted that we achieve the correct speed first, then select the appropriate gear. Again, the reasons for this will be discussed in the speed and gear page.
Now we have to look. In reality, you should have been looking all along, non stop, throughout the entire manoeuvre. As an experienced driver, you no doubt will have been, but it needs to identified as a phase of the system to ensure that it is completed. The MS-PSL routine is exactly that, a step by step routine, so we need a step where we positively state our intention of looking.
We then assess the situation, decide what to do about it – do we go or do we wait? We then take the appropriate action.
So, let’s take a look at the phases of MS-PSL in sequence and in a little more detail. Use the links on the left panel, or use the following links to mirror(s), signal(s), position, speed and gear, look. We’ll also discuss some of the very, very common errors in MS-PSL that trainees on part 2 tests tend to make, and we’ll look at how you can avoid them.