What is the Cockpit Drill?

When you get in a car, as the driver, there are a few basic checks that you need to make first, known as the cockpit drill. These checks are made to ensure that you have ease of use of the controls, that you are comfortable in your driving position and above all that the car is safe.

It's important to remember that these checks should be made while the car is stationary. You should never make these checks while you are driving.

You can follow below the list below to help you remember what these checks are:


Check that it's clear before opening a door to get in and then check the door is closed firmly once you're in the car. Check the passenger doors if other people are in the car. You can check that the doors are closed by looking in your door mirrors and checking that the bodywork of the car is flush. If you're not sure whether the door is closed you can always hold the door handle and give it a nudge. The door shouldn't move if it's securely fastened. You also need to make sure that the boot of the car is closed. As the driver you are responsible for the safety of everyone in the car so make sure the doors are closed.


The seat should be adjusted so that you can reach all the controls easily and comfortably. To check your seat is in the correct position push the clutch pedal to floor with your left leg. You should then position the seat so that you have a slight bend in the leg. The lever for adjusting the seat is usually found under the front of the seat.

The head restraint should also be adjusted as it helps protect your neck from possible injury in the event of accident. To adjust this correctly the middle of the head restraint should be level with the tops of your ears.

Steering Wheel

The back rest of the seat now needs to be adjusted to ensure you're able to comfortably reach the steering wheel. If you place your hands in the normal driving position, the ten-to-two position, you should be sat with a slight a bend in the arm. Keep one hand on the steering wheel while you find this position. The control for adjusting the back rest is usually found on the lower right hand of the seat below the back rest.

Ensure you don't sit too close to the steering wheel because if the airbag deploys in the event of an accident it may cause facial injuries.


Everyone in the car should be wearing a seatbelt as this can prevent serious injury in the event of an accident. As the driver of the car you will be legally responsible for ensuring passengers up to 14 years of age are wearing their seatbelt. Make sure that when you put on the seatbelt that it is not twisted. A twisted seatbelt may reduce its effectiveness or cause an injury if you're involved in an accident.

You are legally entitled to remove your seatbelt when reversing. You can do this because the seatbelt may reduce your ability to move and restrict your ability to make effective all-round observations. If you do remove your seatbelt make sure to put it back on before moving forwards again.


You will now need to adjust your car mirrors to ensure that you have the best view possible of what is happening behind you. This is essential to help ensure your safety on the road. When adjusting your mirrors be sure to sit in your normal driving position. If you don't then the mirrors won't be correct once you sit back in your normal position and you'll need to adjust them again.

Interior (rearview) mirror:

    To adjust the interior mirror make sure that you use the outside plastic part and don't put your fingers on the glass. Putting your fingers on the glass can cause smudges which can make it difficult to see properly, especially at night. Adjust the mirror until you have a complete view of the rear windscreen.

    The interior mirror uses flat glass and will give you an accurate representation of what is happening behind you in terms of distance of other vehicles.

Door mirrors:

    When you adjust the door mirrors you again need to do this from your normal driving position. This time you are looking for a view that gives you about an inch of the side of your car and shows about 50% road and 50% sky.

    The door mirrors are made from curved glass which gives you a wider view. Be aware that this wider view does not eliminate the blind spots on the car. The curved glass also makes objects appear smaller. This may make them appear further away then they really are, which is why it's important to use them in conjunction with the interior mirror and to check your blind spot before moving off or changing lanes.

Final Cockpit Drill Checks

Before starting the engine you should ensure that the handbrake is firmly on and the car is in neutral.