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Moving off

Moving Off is a very simple procedure that we as drivers will have to do on numerous occasions within every journey. 

This may include a very straightforward move off from the kerbside to moving at angles from behind parked vehicles or on hills. 

However, it is also a procedure that fills learners with dread early on and creates mistakes for many experienced drivers throughout their driving career. 

These concerns typically occur, either due to a lack of practice or simply rushing the manoeuvre. 

The basic technique may be adapted depending on conditions but should never be rushed or take place without effective observation. 

The procedure

Assuming you have carried out the safety checks (handbrake applied / neutral selected) and the engine is running, the following should be applied. 

Press the clutch down with your left foot and hold it still. 

Select 1st gear as this is the most powerful and will therefore help to move the car more effectively.  If it will not engage, then select neutral, release the clutch then start again. 

Press the accelerator slightly with your right foot and hold it still.  The amount will depend on different factors such as road gradient, the pace that you need to move off and the power of the vehicle that you are driving. 

We would normally suggest the thickness of a £1 coin as a guide. 

Although it's easy to suggest that you move and hold the pedals steady we appreciate that this can be difficult if the driver is nervous or has not set the seating position correctly. 

Place the heel of your feet on the floor and use it as a pivot point and to keep balance. 

Slowly and smoothly, raise the clutch up to what is commonly known as the 'biting point' and then hold very still.  This is where the engine noise falls and the front of the car raises. 

Through experience this will be easily recognised and will take very little time to find.  It is this at this point where you will need to have plenty of practice without actually moving anywhere. 

Failure to be consistent in this technique will result in stalling. 

Now it is extremely important to make sure it is safe to move through carefully looking in a systematic order. 

This should begin with a left shoulder check then in the left mirror for people walking on the pavement or pulling out of driveways the check forward, interior mirror, right door mirror and finally the blind spot over your right shoulder. 

Through these checks you would have noticed any other road users or that is all clear to move off safely.  Be prepared to carry out these checks as many times as necessary depending upon what is around and how long you have had to wait. 

Remember, the road situation is for ever changing and other road users will appear quickly. 

You need to consider if a signal is necessary where it would benefit other road users but essential that it will not mislead. 

It should be noted that these observation checks relate to moving off from the kerbside whilst the blind spot checks are not necessary when moving from a junction or in a line of traffic. 

When you have got to the stage of checking the right mirror you should have moved your left hand to the parking brake ready for releasing when it is safe to proceed. 

It is important to be looking in the direction of travel when you do release the parking brake. 

As you have already found the biting point, the car should begin to move which will then allow you to raise the clutch a little more and at the same time increase the acceleration.  Accelerating too fiercely will increase fuel consumption
This procedure should be similar to the actions of a see-saw, i.e.  one up and one down. 

When the car has moved, gradually depress the accelerator and release the clutch fully to avoid coasting. 

Moving off at an angle

It will be necessary to move out at angles usually from behind parked vehicles or obstructions. 

The procedure is the same as above but you will need to decide at what angle and consider how much room you will need. 

This will depend on how close to the obstruction you are.  If you cannot see the rear wheels of the parked vehicle then you are too close and it might make more sense to reverse to give you more room. 

Be prepared to hold the clutch longer which will allow you to move slowly enough to pass the obstruction.  This is when the front of your vehicle has cleared the obstruction but do leave enough room for someone to open a door. 

If you are concerned about oncoming traffic wait until it is safe as you must not cause others to change speed or direction. 

As this will usually mean a slower speed do allow more time and distance between other road users.  Ask yourself how long it will take to accelerate to the same speed as the following traffic. 

Moving off up hills

The threat of rolling backwards into following traffic tends to alarm the novice driver and happens often to more experienced drivers without even realising they could do something different to avoid it. 

Here you will need to coordinate the pedals carefully including the brake if the handbrake has not been applied. 

Much of the drill for moving off uphill is the same as for moving off on the level. 

The two differences would be that you will require more acceleration and the clutch will need to raise slightly higher than the biting point.  If you raise the clutch smoothly, this will become obvious as the car will start to vibrate.  If this happens too much depress the clutch and start again. 

If you have not needed to apply the handbrake your right foot will be depressing the brake pedal. 

Typically, people tend to panic at this point which usually results in a hasty movement of the clutch or application of the handbrake. 

The procedure will need to be the same as already mentioned, except. 

Hold the brake still to prevent the car moving until when you have made sure that it is safe. 

Raise the clutch to the biting point but no higher as the car may stall. 

Carry out your usual observation checks and then pivot your right foot to the accelerator pedal.  As you have found the biting point the car should remain still or start to move in the direction you require.  This will allow you time to coordinate the pedals correctly. 

Moving off downhill

The routine is simpler than moving off uphill because the weight of the vehicle helps you to move off. 

The intention here is to prevent the vehicle rolling forward down the hill whilst moving away.  The most effective method and possibly the easiest is;

Press the clutch fully down

Engage the most appropriate gear for the steepness of the slope.  This may be 2nd gear which will match the speed that you move. 

Apply the footbrake fully and release the handbrake. 

Take you're all round observation including both blind spots if from the kerb side. 

Consider a signal and when the car moves off in your control release the brake. 

Overall, avoid rushing the manoeuvre, make sure you complete the observation checks as many times as necessary and practice.