One of the very first things you’ll learn on your first driving lesson is the cockpit drill. As soon as you’ve got the hang of it, your cockpit drill won’t take more than a minute approximately, however getting to grips with it for the first time can easily take up a great chunk of your first lesson.

Give yourself a head-start by reading our guide. Making sure you have a solid understanding of the cockpit drill before you begin driving lessons is a great way to make sure that you get to spend as much time as possible driving, rather than finding out about mirror changes and how to place your seat.


Cockpit drill action 1– Remember ‘DSSSM’

There are five standard parts to the cockpit drill: doors, seat, steering, seat belt and mirrors. Some driving trainers abbreviate this to ‘DSSSM’ to make it simpler to bear in mind. If you struggle to remember DSSSM, make your own little phrase up to assist you in remembering.


Cockpit drill step 2– Doors

Make sure that all your doors are closed. It’s obvious, however you do not want the doors to come open in the middle of a driving lesson. That would look outrageous.

Checking the drivers side door is simple; just offer it a firm pull. If it doesn’t move, then it’s closed. If it does move, look around you for pedestrians or cyclists and, if the way is clear, open the door and close it with a firm pull. Don’t slam, your trainer won’t thank you for knocking their doors.

The passengers doors simply requires you to inspect your side mirrors. If the doors aren’t closed properly they will not be in line with the remainder of the vehicle. If you can see that any passenger door isn’t closed, ask your passenger/ instructor/ examiner to close it or safely exit the car and close the door yourself.

You can also utilise the dash light that a lot of modern-day cars use to show that a door has been left open.


Cockpit drill action 3– Seat

The seat will need to be adjusted to enable you to easily control the vehicle. Finding the perfect position for you is just a matter of depressing the clutch with your left foot and moving the seat forwards/back up until you have a minor bend in your left leg.

The majority of cars have a lever or handle beneath the seat to permit you to change the position. If you can’t find it, just ask your instructor.


Cockpit drill step 4– Steering wheel

Now you’ve got your seat in position to allow you full control of the pedals, you need to make a couple of adjustments to ensure that you have actually got the steering wheel under control. Place one hand at the 12′ o’clock position at the top of the steering wheel and utilise the seat controls (generally found low down on the right-hand man side of your seat) to move the backrest of your seat around up until there is a slight bend in the arm that’s resting on the steering wheel.


Cockpit drill action 5– Seat belts

You need to use your seatbelt; it’s the law. Put it on and make sure there are no twists in it. As the driver of the car, you’re required to make sure that anyone travelling in the vehicle who is under 14 years of ages is wearing theirs.

The only time your lawfully enabled to drive without a seatbelt is when you’re reversing. This is due to the fact that the belt can make correct observations tough when reversing. This applies during your driving lessons and driving test, however make sure that you keep in mind to put it back on when you move off.


Cockpit drill step 6– Mirrors

You’re nearly ready to go, just the mirrors to figure out.

Keep in mind: Rest assured, when you have actually mastered the cockpit drill, performing it will take significantly less time than reading this short article.

You will need to change your mirrors to offer you as clear a view as possible of the road behind you. If your instructor uses extra mirrors, you do not need to fiddle with those. All you require to stress over are the side/door mirrors and the rear view mirror stuck in the centre of the windscreen.

The interior mirror is easy to position; simply settle into your driving position and gently move the rear view mirror around to give you as good a view out of the back window as possible. Keep in mind not to lean into the centre of the car when changing the mirror, or the placing will be all wrong when you kick back into the driving seat.

The side mirrors are a little harder, however not by much. Stay in your driving position and use whatever controls your car has (some are electric, some are manual) to move the side mirrors up until the horizon is in the middle of the mirror and a small sliver of the side of your car shows in each mirror.



The cockpit drill is a vital procedure to carry out each and every time you enter the car to ensure you can drive safely on the roads and it really doesn’t take long to become natural instinct. When driving in a new car it is also always worth taking a moment to see how your controls work prior to you setting off.

Whether you choose to take weekly lessons or an intensive driving course, we have instructors based throughout UK providing intensive driving courses in London, Manchester and all the major cities in the UK. Learning the cockpit drill is one of the very first parts of our courses so be sure to read up and get this nailed down sooner rather than later. Get in touch today to see how we can help you in passing your driving test.