Essential Driving Skills

Hill Starts

 

When you can move off safely and smoothly on a level road, the next stage is to move off on a hill.

Uphill Starts

Moving off on a gradient demands good co-ordination of the gas pedal, clutch and handbrake, for the obvious reasons that without it you will roll backwards and you will fail your practical test.

The normal routine for moving off away from the kerb applies, mirrors-signal-manoeuvre. Select first gear, bring the clutch to the 'biting point' and apply higher-than-usual revs. Check your mirrors, make sure too, that there are no pedestrians about to cross the road immediately behind your car , check over your right shoulder then if a signal is needed then give it. If it is safe to move off, release the handbrake and let the clutch bite a little more - enough to get the car rolling forward, but not enough to cause the car to jerk. Give a bit more gas as the car moves off, letting the clutch come right up as the car gathers speed.

Remember that it will be harder for the engine to overcome an extra load up the hill (like when you ride a cycle up a hill, you have to pedal a lot harder). Therefore, you must build up more momentum than usual in first gear before changing, and be sure not to fumble selection, otherwise all momentum will be lost. Lastly if you signalled check that the indicator has cancelled, then drive the car normally and engage higher gears when required.

Downhill Starts

The approved method of making a downhill start is to use the footbrake to hold the car during take-up of the clutch. The normal safety checks and signals are required, but the technique differs from a uphill start in the later stages.

To move off, engage first gear, second gear is permissible if the hill is very steep. With the clutch pedal right down ( depressed), fully apply the footbrake. Keeping both pedals depressed, Do your checks to make sure its safe to move off mirrors-signal-manoeuvre not forgetting to look over your right shoulder.If all is safe, release the handbrake and find the biting point with the clutch pedal. Now slowly release the footbrake. The car should begin to move, so let the clutch come fully home and transfer your right foot away from the brake pedal onto the gas. How much gas you need depends upon the steepness of the hill. A steep down hill gradient may require you stay in second gear, otherwise third gear is the highest likely to be needed, so you can keep control of the car.

The Driving Test

The examiner on the driving test will expect you to:-

1. Move off safely and under control on a gradient
2. Use the MSM routine
3. Check your blindspot for traffic and pedestrians
4. Make balanced use of the accelerator, clutch, brakes and steering
5. Use the appropriate gear
6. Avoid rolling back