Among the first things you’ll learn in a driving lesson is how to pull over securely. It might appear like a basic manoeuvre, it’s something that in fact needs an great deal of preparation and awareness. If you’re not the biggest fan of having to pull over and move off, you’ll be disappointed to hear that you’ll be expected to do so multiple times during your driving test. Practice makes perfect. So, if you’re searching for some ideas on how to pull over safely like a pro, you’ve come to the right place. 

Pulling over safely

Once you’ve managed to figure out the fundamentals of the cockpit drill and know which pedals are which, your driving trainer will likely move you onto one of the most basic elements of driving: pulling over securely and moving off. This is something that the average driver will do countless times in daily life. Pulling over safely will play a role in your driving test.

Throughout your driving test, the driving examiner will ask you to pull over on the left-hand side of the road and then move off. They will attempt to integrate a few different conditions as they do this, including:

Regular stops at the side of the road

Pulling out from behind a parked vehicle

A hill start

Now, unless the examiner is asking you to show the pull up on the right manoeuvre, you will only ever be asked to pull over on the left hand side of the road. You can expect to be asked to do so at least two times during your test. As you’re driving along your test route, the examiner will say something like this: “When you can, please pull over on the left in a safe place.”


How do I pull over safely?


Step one: Discover your safe place

Prior to you starting signalling and moving your vehicle, you first need to establish where you plan to pull over. As excited as you might be to follow the examiner’s guidelines, it’s a lot more crucial that you follow them correctly. There are three important concerns you need to ask yourself whenever you mean to pull over:

Is it safe?

The inspector isn’t asking you to pull over in any old spot: they’re specifically asking you to make sure that it’s safe. You’ll want to avoid parking opposite a bus stop or another parked vehicle, as it will make it challenging for other drivers to move past you.

Is it convenient and legal?

Here’s where your theory test knowledge will come in helpful. When selecting an area, you must ensure that it’s legal. For starters, you can’t park your car within 10 metres of a junction. You also can’t park next to a bus stop, in a cycle lane or on double yellows. If you’re driving near a school, you’ll want to be a lot more mindful with your choice.

Is it convenient for other road users?

One aspect you may not have thought about when picking a location to pull up is whether it is convenient for other road users. If you park in front of somebody’s driveway, for instance, you could end up blocking them in or out – making it extremely troublesome for them. Always think about how your decision may affect you, your guests and other road users.

Step two: MSM routine

The Mirror, Signal and Manoeuvre (MSM) routine is among the most essential abilities of learning to drive. If you don’t utilise it when you’re on the road, you should not be on the road. It’s crucial to staying safe on the road and keeping other road users safe. No matter what you’re doing on the road, whether it’s approaching a roundabout or parallel parking, you need to use MSM.

Mirrors: check your side mirrors and interior mirror to see if you have enough time to pull over. If there’s a cyclist coming up on your left, or there’s a motorist tailgating you, it might be a good idea to wait a bit longer.

Signal: as soon as you believe it’s safe to continue, you should use your indicators to signal your intent to pull over. If you choose that it’s no longer safe to pull over, ensure you cancel your signals without delay.

Manoeuvre: it’s essential that you examine your mirrors and blindspots again to make sure nothing has changed since you last looked. (There’s no such thing as playing it too safe on the road!).


Step 3: pull over

As tempting as it might be to turn the wheel completely left, you need to approach your safe place at a shallow angle. If you’re going at it too sharply, you’re likely to strike or mount the kerb – something that will leave you with a major driving test fault. Doing so can also make it challenging for you to get your vehicle parallel to the pavement.

As you get close to the kerb (around 20 to 30 cm away), it’s time for you to correct things up. When you’re satisfied, stop the car, use the handbrake and select neutral gear.

Step 4: move off.

Once you’ve pulled over securely and stopped, the examiner will inform you to move off in your own time. They’ll say this pretty much immediately after you’ve stopped. You need to be mindful here. This is the part where lots of learners begin to panic and rush, ultimately leading them to stalling the car. You not required to hop to it as soon as their instructions have left their lips. Take your time.

Work in an anti-clockwise motion – examine your right shoulder blindspot, right-hand mirror, interior, left-hand mirror and left shoulder blindspot. As soon as you feel that it’s safe, choose first gear and signal left.

Next, complete one final check to make sure that nothing has actually changed on the road. If all is clear, it’s time for you to put your foot down gently on the accelerator, disengage the handbrake, guide and release the clutch. You can move off when it’s safe to do so.