Using a hazard routine

Learning to drive - hazard routing SheepA hazard routine is a basic drill, or system of actions, that you will use each time you approach a hazard.

A hazard is anything that causes you to change your speed or direction, for example, junctions, parked cars, animals on the road, etcetera.

By taking a routine approach, you will be sure that it is safe to carry out any action that may be necessary to deal with the hazard safely.

The basic routine for driving in the UK is Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre, abbreviated to MSM. The full routine, however has more abbreviations... These are MSM - PSL - LAD. The sequence of actions that make up this expanded Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre (MSM) hazard routine is:

  • Mirrors
  • Signal
  • Position
  • Speed
  • Look
  • Assess
  • Decide (and act)

MSM in action

The example below describes how you would use this basic routine to make a right turn (the diagram shows a car in the UK where we drive on the left)..

Mirrors

MSMAs soon as you are aware that there is a hazard ahead, you must check your mirrors to see what is happening behind. Just looking is not enough; you must ask yourself the question: 'Is it safe to carry out my manoeuvre?'

Signal

When you are sure that it's safe to proceed, ask yourself if there are any other road users who need to know what you intend to do. If the answer is yes, give the appropriate signal (by indicator, arm or brake lights). After signalling, check your mirrors again to find out how drivers behind are reacting.

Position

Check your mirrors to make sure that it's safe to move into the correct position for the manoeuvre.

Speed and Gear

Use the footbrake to ensure that you have plenty of time to change gear before the hazard. If things seem rushed, you're going too fast. Make a final observation check all around and then complete your manoeuvre.

Look, Assess, Decide, Act.

While carrying out the hazard routine you must keep a constant look-out for other road users. Doing this will help to ensure that you have all the information you need to make the correct decisions about your intended actions.

Note that mirrors have been mentioned at least three times in the routine above - there is no set number of times to check your mirrors; the important thing is that you MUST always know how your actions will affect following drivers and how their actions will affect your plans. Use your mirrors as often as necessary during the routine.