cockpit drill

Home > Learning Zone > The Cockpit Drill

The ‘Car Cockpit Drill’ – DSSSM

Here are some reminders for the Cockpit Drill… this is the routine you should follow every time you get into a car. Be careful when walking around the car to open the driver’s door if your car is parked on the street. It is a good idea to walk towards oncoming traffic.

When opening the door make sure you consider passing traffic. Do not open the door carelessly or recklessly as a collision may occur.

Test Expectation:

On your driving test, you will not be expected to perform the Cockpit Drill as you would have already done this before arriving at the test centre. However, you are expected to perform safety checks, i.e. that the handbrake is on and the gear is in neutral.

As the driver of the vehicle, the examiner will expect you to;

  • ensure the doors are closed
  • ensure your head restraint and the seat is correctly adjusted
  • your mirrors are all set up correctly
  • your seatbelt is on

The Cockpit Drill can be remembered using the acronym DSSSM. This stands for Door, Seat, Steering and Mirrors.

DOORS – You must check that all the doors are securely closed. Sometimes doors only close half way and may rattle when you are driving. If doors are not fully closed an alert icon may appear on the dashboard. As the driver, you are legally responsible for all the doors of the vehicle being closed. When checking the door is closed use BOTH HANDS in case the door is not closed and flies open when you check it. It would be easy to hit a passing cyclist if the door suddenly opens.

SEAT – The seat can be adjusted in four ways;

  1. Forwards and backwards – pull the adjustment lever (usually under the seat) whilst holding the wheel with your other hand for leverage. Press down on the clutch pedal to help gauge how far forward to pull the seat. You should not be stretching too much and have a slight bend in your knee.
  2. Up and down – Make sure your seat height is not too high that the interior mirror obscures your view or that your head is too near the roof that it might bump if you go over a pothole. Make sure you are not too low that you can not see a reasonable distance in front of the vehicle. Use a cushion if necessary.
  3. Backrest – You should have the backrest adjusted so that you can hold the wheel with a slight bend at the elbow. Try not to have the backrest too far back.
  4. Headrest – The middle of the headrest should be eye level. The purpose of the headrest is to protect your head against whiplash in case of a collision.

STEERING – Not all vehicles have adjustable steering wheels. The steering wheel should not be too close to your legs if possible. It should not be too close to your chest. Your arms should have a slight bend at the elbow when holding the steering wheel. Usually, the steering wheel can be adjusted up and down as well as in and out.

SEATBELTS – As the driver of the vehicle it is your responsibility to ensure that anyone under the age of 14 has their seatbelt fastened correctly. Make sure there are no kinks or twists in the belt and that it goes over your shoulder correctly.

MIRRORS – The interior and door mirrors need to be adjusted. You should be able to see then with minimum head movement where necessary.

  • Interior Mirror – When adjusting the interior mirror try not to touch the glass with your fingers as this may cause a blur. The top of the mirror should run parral with the rear window and it should be more towards your side (offside) of the car. You might be able to see a little part of your head in the mirror. You should not see the ceiling of the vehicle in the mirror.
  • Door Mirrors – The left and right door mirrors should show a small part of the side of the car (around half an inch). The road should be half the mirror and above the road the other half.