What is the Cockpit Drill?
The cockpit drill is a series of checks and adjustments you do when you get in the driver’s seat of a car. You need to set up the vehicle so it is safe to drive, and so you can reach all of the foot controls and hand controls and see out of the mirrors.
The cockpit drill may be simple, but it is essential that you correctly set up the vehicle that you will be driving.
Make sure you do these cockpit checks, in the right order, before you start the engine. This is particularly important if you are not the only person that uses the car. A good way to remember the cockpit drill is DHSSSM.
Doors– make sure all the doors are shut. It sounds obvious but you don’t want one of the doors opening as you are driving along. Some cars have a light that shows up near the speedometer when you start the car, or make a beeping noise. It’s best to just make sure you shut them in the first place.
Handbrake– pull the handbrake (parking brake) to check that is has secured itself, and it is not at the end of its working travel. We do not want the car moving when we are adjusting the seat.
Seat– there is usually some kind of lever under the seat of most cars. This lever can be pulled up to enable you to slide the seat backwards and forwards.
You need to be able to reach the steering wheel and the foot pedals. Find a position that lets you push down the left foot pedal (clutch) all the way, whilst having a slight bend in your knee.
This will mean you do not have to stretch when it comes to using the clutch pedal.
Some car seats have a height adjustment that can be adjusted to give you a better view of the road ahead. You should also adjust the head restraint so the centre part of it is level with the top of your ears and your eyes.
Steering wheel– some steering wheels are adjustable. If you release the lever you can move the steering column up and down. Set this so that you can see all the dials and so that the steering wheel is not too close to your legs, making sure you lock it back in place.
Seatbelt– something you do every time you enter a car (hopefully). Put the seatbelt on after you have adjusted the seat and steering wheel. That way you do not choke yourself when moving the seat forward.
You should make sure that there are no twists in the seatbelt, and that it locks in place securely.
It is against the law to drive without wearing a seatbelt unless you are exempt. You, as the driver, are also responsible for making sure any child under the age of 14, who is traveling with you, wears their seatbelt.
Mirrors – you should set the interior mirror with your left hand without touching the glass. Set the mirror so that you can see as much out of the rear window as possible. Set the door mirrors so that you can see the side of the car in a small part of the mirror.
You should be able to see half road, half sky, in the rest of the mirror. If you realise you need to adjust the mirrors when driving, pull over in a safe place before adjusting them.
More help with the mirrors can be found on this post The Use Of Mirrors and Blind Spots