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The System of Car Control

As used in Police Driver Training, Please read Roadcraft for the full story.

picture of the system of car control


The Information stage of the system is paramount, however each individual will have a different perspective as to what they are seeing and how they process it.

The Information phase encompasses all other parts of the 'System'.

Take Information
Mirror checks whenever you see a hazard or potential hazard and whenever you consider changing position or speed, always check all around your vehicle prior to the move. This would also be a good time to check your speed.

Use Information
You can use the information to plan how to deal with any hazards you encounter.

Give Information
Give a signal if it will help other road users (including pedestrians).


Positioning is an essential part of the system of car control that we use. We want to be in the best position to give us maximum visibility, so not only can we see as much of the road ahead as possible, but so other road users can see us earlier.

Safety should always be paramount.

The best road position is dependant on a lot of factors. Safety, Road layout, traffic, hazards, your speed, information e.g road signs. Do not give up Safety for position.


Adjust your speed as necessary. Use your accelerator or brake to give you the correct speed. Anticipation and acceleration sense are a key part of this.


We are told we must use the correct gear. What is the correct gear? The correct gear is the most responsive gear for the speed that you have chosen for the circumstances, that is one that will allow you to be able to accelerate or decelerate and give you control of the momentum of the car. This is most noticeable on a hill. By being in this gear you have maximum control allowing the use of acceleration sense. This applies to automatic gearboxes as well as manual.

Acceleration sense is about how you vary your foot pressure on the accelerator pedal allowing you to anticipate the changing conditions ahead so that you are at the correct speed to negotiate a hazard without braking. Acceleration sense is an art that needs to be practised. (More about this in 'Acceleration')
The right footwear makes a big difference in the fine control of the accelerator. Not that I’m advocating any special driving shoes, just a fairly normal shoe with a flexible sole. We don’t believe trainers or boots would be good driving shoes because the soles are too thick and you cannot get the feel that you require for this fine control.
Most drivers tend to go straight from accelerator to brake and that is when fuel consumption suffers

The aim is to choose the correct gear for every circumstance Making the gear change smoothly Engaging the chosen gear without going through an intermediate gear first. Knowing the maximum road speed for each gear is essential, so if you are going from a high gear to a low one you do not cause any damage to the gearbox.


Acceleration:- Apply the correct degree of acceleration to negotiate the hazard Safely.
Obviously this is dependant on getting the previous part of the system right (selecting the correct gear). If you have selected the right gear, depressing the accelerator will give you the response needed to negotiate the hazard. If you have chosen the right gear when you lift your foot from the accelerator the vehicle should give you a deceleration response, should you need it, giving flexibility when negotiating hazards.
This flexibility is called "Acceleration Sense", which is:- The ability to vary vehicle speed in response to changing road and traffic conditions by accurate use of the accelerator". Acceleration should be applied gently and progressively to get a smooth, yet progressive drive (making progress). A more aggressive use of the accelerator will result in loss of grip and affect your steering and of course fuel consumption.

Extracts from Roadcraft.