Choose your position to pull over carefullyChoose your position to pull over carefullySelecting the wrong place to pull over at the side of the road causes danger to other road users and is a major cause of traffic flow problems and minor collisions in town and city centres.

I'm confident that you've been a passenger in a car or even the driver during your lessons when you've come across a car parked in an unsafe manner. It's inconvenient for everyone, it's selfish and it's unnecessary. It's essential for the examiner to see that you have the skills to avoid parking like that, and that you can use your intelligence and your 'road sense' to pick an appropriate stopping place.

During your Driving Test it's completely normal for the examiner to ask you to pull over at some point, either to do one of the required manoeuvres, or simply to see that you can pull up and move off again safely.

I've sat in on many learner driver tests and quite often this happens more than once. On Driving Instructor tests I've been involved with I've seen this done no less than 6 times.

The examiner isn't asking you to reverse park behind another parked car or perform some kind of exercise just to pull over, what they want is simply for you to select the appropriate space and to use your driving skills to safely pull the car over at the side of the road.

When the examiner asks you to pull over (I say "when" not "if" because it will happen) it's important to realize that they don't mean instantly. They're not asking you to slam the brakes on immediately and swerve into the kerb side as soon as you can. It's normal for them to ask you to do this in an area where it's going to be possible very shortly, but you still need to think about it to make sure you pull over in an appropriate position.

You also need to apply the Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre routine before you make any changes to the cars speed or direction.

A good way to think about finding an appropriate position is to think "Is it safe? Is it legal? Is it convenient?"

Think of these three things as being essential criteria for our selected stopping position and it's hard to go wrong.

Without being in the car with you or knowing your local area it's impossible to provide specific examples, but these guidelines are good enough to follow in almost all situations.

Be absolutely aware and make no mistake about it, the examiner will not try to trick you but they will without doubt ask you to pull over at a time when you must give some thought to it, such as just as you're approaching a junction on the other side of the road or there is some other obvious danger nearby.

The examiner just wants to see that you're capable of making those decisions for yourself. There's no trick, nothing underhand. You'll be driving unaccompanied once you've passed your test so the examiner just wants to see that you can select a stopping position safely.

The examiners job during your test is to watch you carefully and to use the driving test marking sheet to record any driving faults they see.

Let's think more about this.

Safe

Take care that you stop where it's Safe, Legal and ConvenientTake care that you stop where it's Safe, Legal and ConvenientThe first thing to consider when you see a potential stopping point is whether it's safe to stop there.

Think about it. Would it be safe to park up on the zig-zag lines leading up to a pedestrian crossing?

No, it wouldn't. Actually, it  wouldn't be legal or convenient either, so that's a good example of a potential stopping area that fits none of our criteria.

What about parking directly opposite a T-junction?

No, that's no good. You may be forcing other cars onto the wrong side of the road just as other vehicles are trying to emerge from the junction.

Can you think of any other areas in which it wouldn't be safe to stop? What about on a bend in the road? What about near to a junction where you could be restricting another driver's view?

The list could go on and on, but make sure you get plenty of practice at this with your instructor.

Legal

I've already mentioned about stopping on the approach to a pedestrian crossing. Can you think of any other areas where it wouldn't be legal to pull over?

What about double yellow lines or other parking restrictions?

What about solid white lines down the centre of the road? Many people overlook this one, but it's an offence to park up adjacent to a system of solid white lines. The lines are there because there's some danger and the traffic streams need to be kept apart, so if you park in those areas you're unlikely to be helping the situation.

Convenient

By convenient, I don't mean convenient for you. I mean convenient for other road users.

As an example, imagine if you decided to park so close to another vehicle that the driver either couldn't get into their car or couldn't manoeuvre it to get out of their parking space. You'd be annoyed if that happened to you. It wouldn't be convenient and there's a fine line here that could be crossed into this being unlawful.

Think about parking up near to a driveway, so close that anyone coming out of the drive may not be able to see passed your car into the traffic flow. There may not be any parking restrictions there and you may not be parked unlawfully, but you're certainly not helping the other driver.

Always remember when you're asked to pull over, is it safe, legal and convenient?

Dave