Book Instructor

A Guide to the M.S.P.S.L Routine for Safe Driving

The MSPSL routine is a cornerstone of safe driving, providing a structured approach to dealing with hazards. MSPSL stands for Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed, and Look. It’s a sequence that drivers should follow when approaching any hazard, including junctions, bends, and pedestrian crossings. There are times when this routine may be changed and your BookInstructor ADI can provide you guidance on this but at a basic level here’s how to apply the MSPSL routine to your driving:


Check your mirrors early to understand the situation around you before changing speed or direction. Use the rear-view mirror to assess the traffic behind you and the appropriate side mirror to gauge the situation to the side you intend to move towards.


Indicate your intentions to other road users by signalling in good time. This allows other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians to react to your planned action.


Position your vehicle correctly on the road in relation to the hazard you’re approaching. This may mean moving to the centre line when turning right or keeping to the left when turning left or going straight on.


Adjust your speed to suit the hazard you are dealing with. This may involve slowing down to give yourself more time to assess and react or to comply with traffic signs.


Assess the situation by looking into the area you are moving into. This involves a final check of the mirrors, looking far ahead, and using your peripheral vision to get the widest field of view. At junctions, this includes looking right, left, and then right again before proceeding.

Applying MSPSL in Practice

1. Approaching a Junction:

• Mirror: Check your mirrors to understand the speed and position of traffic behind you.
• Signal: Indicate your direction to inform others of your intended path.
• Position: Choose the correct lane as you approach the junction, and position your car appropriately.
• Speed: Slow down to a speed that allows you to stop safely if the junction is obscured or if traffic conditions require it.
• Look: Scan the junction for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and other hazards before proceeding.

2. Passing a Parked Car:

• Mirror: Use your mirrors to ensure you have enough space to overtake and that no one is overtaking you.
• Signal: Signal (of necessary), right to alert others that you’re moving out to pass the parked car.
• Position: Steer a safe course around the parked car while maintaining a good clearance.
• Speed: Adjust your speed if necessary—slow enough to react if a door opens or someone steps out from in front of the parked car.
• Look: Keep an eye on the parked car and any gaps where pedestrians might appear as you pass.

3. Approaching a Roundabout:

• Mirror: Check your mirrors to gauge the actions of drivers behind and to the sides as you slow down.
• Signal: Signal correctly depending on the exit you require, you may need to signal both on approach and on exit on the roundabout
• Position: Stay in the correct lane for the exit you intend to take.
• Speed: Moderate your speed as you approach and be prepared to give way to traffic on the roundabout.
• Look: Look to the right and ahead to judge the flow of traffic and decide when it is safe to enter the roundabout.

By consistently applying the MSPSL routine throughout your lessons with your Book Instructor ADI, you’ll develop good driving habits that will enhance your safety on the road and that of other road users. Remember, each element of MSPSL is as important as the next, and it’s the combination of all five that makes for a comprehensive approach to hazard management.

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