You may have heard of the mirror, signal, manoeuvre (MSM) routine. It’s as familiar a part of learning to drive as L-plates and stalling, but many driving instructors now consider mirror, signal, manoeuvre to be a bit out-of-date. Instead, they’re using the MSPSL routine, which stands for ‘mirror, signal, position, speed and look’.
What's the deal with MSPSL?
The MSPSL routine is one of the very first things that you’ll learn once you’ve started driving lessons. It’s a fundamental part of learning to drive safely and your instructor will probably explain it in your first lesson. If you’ve not started lessons yet, it’s a good idea to get ahead and learn the basics of the MSPSL routine now. If you’re already learning to drive, it can never hurt to make sure that you’re completely comfortable with the routine.
MSPSL routine breakdown
M – Mirror
Whenever you’re approaching any type of junction, you should be checking your appropriate mirrors. Firstly, glance in your interior mirror and then check your left-hand door mirror if you’re turning left and your right-hand door mirror if turning right. Always be sure to take careful notice of what you see in the mirrors rather than just glancing at them because you know your instructor/examiner is watching.
S – Signal
You should signal to let other road users know your intentions when approaching turns (both left and right), junctions and roundabouts. You should also signal if you intend to change lanes or pull over to park.
Be sure to start signalling at the appropriate time; signalling too late or too early can be as dangerous as not bothering to signal at all.
P – Position
There’s more to road positioning than just the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ sides of the road. Correctly positioning your vehicle within the lane you’re travelling in is very important. If you make a turn from the wrong road position you may clip the curb, which is very bad news if it happens during a driving test. Be sure to make left turns from your usual position and, if making a right turn, move slightly closer to the centre line of the road.
S – Speed
This one’s simple: make sure you’re travelling at an appropriate speed.
L – Look
Once you’ve made sure that there’s nothing in your mirrors, you’re indicating in the right direction, you’ve moved to the correct road position and you’ve checked your speed, you should have one final look around you. Make sure no other road users have moved into your path and have one final check in your mirrors. if you’re turning left, take extra care to check your left-hand door mirror for cyclists; they can easily sneak up on you.
The MSPSL routine can seem like a lot to remember, especially when you’re concentrating on driving. Don’t worry, your instructor will remind you what to do and what order to do it in and, before long, you’ll be remembering your MSPSL routine without even thinking about it. When you sit your driving test, take extra care to remember this routine; improper observations are one of the most common reasons to fail the test!