The DVSA and Highway Code system of driving for any hazard is normally referred to as Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre (MSM).
MSM is a systematic and step by step method of the stages you should go through on the approach to anything.
Put simply, a hazard is anything that could make you change speed or direction.
The hazard could be an actual danger that you have to avoid like an obstacle in the road, or something that could potentially develop into a dangerous situation, such as a pedestrian ahead who looks like they might step out into the road in front of you.
No matter what the hazard, no matter what the situation or circumstances in which you're driving, the routine to deal with anything you come across is MSM.
It is impossible to overstate just how important the MSM routine is. Everything you do, in every situation, should be based on MSM.
What this means in effect is that a Mirror check always comes first, followed by an appropriate signal and then the manoeuvre. It's very important to get the sequence right and to do it in the right order.
The Basics Of MSM
For both of these, and everything else that could happen, the answer is always the same:
- See the danger or potential danger
- Check the mirrors M
- Apply the appropriate signal S
- Manoeuvre M safely through the danger
Expanding MSM A Little
The second 'M' in MSM can be broken down even further into 'PSL'. PSL stands for Position, Speed and Look
MSM then becomes: Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed, Look
So, for any hazard, we simply apply MS-PSL each and every time.
We see the hazard and we realise that we need to take some action, such as turning or slowing.
The first thing we do is to check the mirrors. This is done before anything else.
Next we apply the appropriate signal if it's necessary.
Next we move into the correct position and reduce to the correct speed to negotiate the hazard.
Finally, we look. We keep up good observations for any other hazards and we manoeuvre through the danger, whether it's a turn at a junction, avoiding a bike, avoiding a pedestrian or just about anything else you can think of.
Sometimes, learner drivers ask "what should I do if . . . " and the answer is "always apply MSM, in the correct order, to deal with it"
Get The Sequence Right, Do It In Order, Step By Step
It's vitally important to get the sequence of MSM right. It's one of the main things that the examiner will look for on your test.
Right from your very first driving lesson you should be getting into the habit of going through the MSM sequence, in the right order, for everything you come across in your lessons.
Check the Mirrors BEFORE you do anything else.
Apply the appropriate Signal (if necessary or helpful) BEFORE you change position.
Example MSM For Approaching A Junction
The following image shows a typical situation in which a driver is travelling along the main road and wants to turn right into a junction just ahead.
Let's look at the stages of MSM step by step.
- Mirrors - you want to turn right ahead so check the mirrors first
- Signal - you apply the appropriate signal by indicating to the right
- Position - you take up a position just to the left of the centre markings and
- Speed - you continue to apply the brakes to reduce speed (you give an extra signal with the brake lights) and you look into the junction for other dangers or obstructions as soon as you get the view
- Look - you continue to look all ahead and into the junction. You also take a last look into the drivers door mirror for anyone overtaking before you move out of position
- When you know it's safe, you turn from the appropriate position and make your way into the junction.
Remember, whenever you ask yourself the questions "what do I do if . . . ?"
The answer is always apply MSM