How to move off and stop safely in the car

Lesson Type
Last updated: 13 Nov 2019

Moving off and stopping safely are both skills which learner drivers learn very early on in their driving lessons. Although it’s a skill that you’ll soon get the hang of, knowing the right procedure is important as you will be tested on your ability to move off and stop safely in your driving test.

Learning how to move off and stop safely isn’t just a case of being able to move and stop the car. You need to make sure you do so in a safe and controlled manner, whilst making the correct checks. Moving off and stopping are two of the first things your driving instructor will teach you, but here we run through the stages to help you make sure you know exactly what to do when moving off and stopping.

Moving off

Once you’ve mastered the 6 steps of the cockpit drill, you’ll be ready to get on the move.

First, you’ll need to get the car ready to move:

  • Depress the clutch fully
  • Apply first gear
  • Lift the clutch up to the biting point
  • Apply a minimal amount of pressure on the gas

Mirror and blind spot checks

Next, you’ll need to check ahead, your mirrors and your blind spot to make sure it is safe to move off. Remember the Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed and Look (MSPSL) routine and make sure you complete it every time you move off. You should check out of the front windscreen, your interior mirror, your right side mirror and, finally, your right blind spot.

If there is a car, pedestrian or cyclist approaching, do not move off. Instead, wait until they’ve passed and then complete the checks again.


Once you have made all of these checks and you’re sure it’s safe to move off, signal to the right to indicate your intentions to others.

Move off

You should be holding the car on the biting point. Make sure you are applying enough pressure on the gas pedal to prevent the engine from stalling, but not so much that the car jolts forward when you move off. Finding the right balance can be tricky at first, but clutch control will be one of the first things your driving instructor teaches you, so you will have plenty of time to practise.

Release the handbrake and slowly lift the clutch as you apply more pressure on the gas pedal to pull away.

Stopping safely

Making sure you can stop the vehicle safely and in a controlled manner is equally as important as being able to move off safely. You should never attempt to move off unless you know how to stop the car, so ensure your driving instructor talks you through how to do both before you try moving off.


Before you can pull over and stop, you will need to be aware of what is going on behind and around you. You should look in your interior rear view mirror to check whether there are any vehicles travelling behind you.

Carry on until you find a clear, safe place to stop on the left hand side. If there are no cars behind you, slow down whilst you look for a safe spot to stop in.


S.C.A.L.P is a term used in the driver training industry which refers to stopping the car in a Safe, Convenient and Legal Position. This means the driving examiner in your test will be looking for you to not only be able to control the car, but that they will also be making sure you can recognise where a safe, convenient and legal place to stop is.

Do not stop:

  • Too close to a junction
  • On or too close to a bend
  • Across a driveway
  • On double yellow lines

Once you find a safe and convenient place to pull over into, check in your interior mirror once more and then in your left side mirror, ensuring there are no cyclists on your left hand side. It is also a good idea to check your left blind spot before pulling up beside the curb.

If there are no cars, pedestrians or cyclists behind or around you, you do not need to indicate before you pull over. If there are, however, you should do so to make your intentions clear. If you’re not sure whether you should indicate, indicate anyway.


The driving examiner will also be looking for you to demonstrate that you can control the car when stopping. In order to show that you can do this, you will need to make sure you stop close enough to the curb, but not so close that you scrape or mount the curb.

When stopping the car:

  • Depress the clutch as you roll to a stop
  • Apply the handbrake
  • Select Neutral

Learning how to move off and stop safely might sound complicated, but once you get the hang of how to safely complete both, doing so will become second nature. Remember to always follow the MSPSL procedure and don’t rush into pulling over if the driving examiner asks you to. Make finding a safe, convenient and legal position to stop in a priority.