The Cockpit Drill
Whether you are novice driver, or simply driving an unfamiliar vehicle for the first time, you need to know the vehicle instruments, controls and gauges before you drive
Step 1: Identify the location and function of each indicator/gauge on the instrument panel. Practice glancing at them quickly and returning your eyes to the road.
Step 2: Practice using the hand controls until you get to the point where you can use them without needing to take your eyes off the road.
Step 3: Perform step 2 with all the vehicle controls.
Remember to run through the cockpit drill each time you drive a vehicle that is new to you. You won’t regret it when you are in an urgent situation and need the controls.
The Instrument Panel
Every vehicle has an instrument panel which is slightly different from others.
It is for this reason that it is essential to consult the owner’s manual of your vehicle in order to familiarize yourself with the indicators, alert lights and gauges of your specific vehicle
Alert lights that are yellow designate “warning”
Red alert lights indicate immediate danger, Stop your vehicle a soon as possible.
The Vehicle Controls
Outside of the instrument panel, vehicles are equipped with many other controls for lights, temperature control, steering, braking and safety.
Ignition Switch (H)
“LOCK” Position – Electrical system is inoperative
“OFF” Position – Most electrical systems are inoperative
“ACC” Position – Only accessory electrical systems are operative (for listening to radio etc)
“ON” Position – All electrical systems operative, indicator lights and gauges are active and can be checked for any malfunction
“START” Position – Spring-loaded and so a slight extra pressure must be exerted to turn the key to this position.
Activates the starter motor
Never hold engaged for more than 10 seconds as this will damage the starter motor.
IF THE ENGINE IS NOT OPERATING, WAIT SEVERAL SECONDS BEFORE RESTARTING
Some vehicles are equipped with a button that needs to be pushed before returning to the “LOCK” position
Gas/Brake Foot Pedal area
Parking/Emergency Brake Used when parking, after stopping to restrain vehicle from moving. Always engage after bringing the vehicle to a full stop, followed by moving transmission into “P – Park”
Associated Instrumental panel light will come on when the parking brake is engaged.
In emergency situations where the service brakes have failed, use the parking brake to bring the vehicle to a stop.
How to do this will be taught in person in the vehicle.
As the brake is only active on the rear wheels, it will have a longer stopping distance than using the service brake, but you will stop
Controls the mechanical brake which usually is applied on the rear wheels
Controls the connection between the engine and the wheels, automatically selecting the most efficient gear when the vehicle is in forward motion.
Selector Level Positions
“P” – PARK
“R” – REVERSE
“N” – NEUTRAL
D or D4 – “OVERDRIVE”
“D” – DRIVE
“2” – SECOND GEAR
“1” – FIRST GEAR
Comfort and Convenience Devices From cruise control to power seats to heated mirrors, each vehicle has its own particular set up of control and convenience devices.
Familiarity with these controls is mandatory prior to the vehicle being in motion.
Door Locks – Protect you and your passengers, especially in case of accident.
Lock your car doors when you get in to prevent them from flying open in a collision
When you park, close all windows, lock all doors, and store any packages in the trunk (out of view)
Head Restraints Intended to prevent neck and spinal column injuries resulting from a collision.
Adjust so that the top of the restraint reaches just above the top of your ears
Don’t lean on it while driving.
Mirrors – All vehicles are equipped with an interior rearview mirror as well as a left and right rearview mirror
Sun Visor – Located above the windshield on both the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle.
Is used to block the sun from shining directly into the eyes of the driver either from the front or from the side.
Backing Up Aids – Many newer vehicles are equipped with detection devices like back up cameras or sensors that make a noise when approaching an obstacle.
- Tilt Steering – An adjustable tilt steering wheel allows the driver to set the steering wheel to a position which gives more comfort and control.
Do not adjust the steering wheel to have it block your view of the instrument panel
Aim the airbag at your chest to prevent facial injuries should the airbag be activated in the event of a collision.
Air Conditioning -An option on most vehicles
Cruise Control – Optional on most vehicles.
Allows you to maintain a desired speed while driving without pressing the accelerator. It is active only at speeds above 45km/h.
The controls are located on the steering wheel, or a stem on the left side of the steering column (check your vehicle’s owner’s manual)
To disengage, tap the brake pedal, or push the “off” button.Try this for the first time in a traffic-free environment.
Passenger Air Bag Switch – The passenger air bag cut off switch is used to disengage the air bag on the vehicle. With the switch set to “off,” the air bag will not inflate in a frontal collision.