National standard for driving cars and light vans (category B)

Role 1: Prepare yourself, the vehicle, and its passengers for a journey

What you must be able to do and understand when to prepare yourself, the vehicle and its passengers for a journey.

Unit 1.1: Prepare yourself and passengers for a journey

There are 3 elements in this unit:


Element 1.1.1: Choose a suitable mode of transport

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • assess your own and your passengers’ physical, emotional and other needs
  • assess the environmental impact and cost of other modes of transport
  • decide whether it’s suitable to use a vehicle for the journey

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • the pros and cons of different modes of transport, and how each affects the environment
  • how using a car for very short journeys affects the environment
  • how vehicle exhaust gases (for example, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and lead) affect the environment
  • the environmental implications of different:
    • types of power unit
    • fuel types
    • tyres
  • how much it costs to own and run different types of vehicles over their life
  • how vehicle noise can affect the environment

Element 1.1.2: Make sure you’re fit to drive

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • assess whether your ability to drive safely and legally is affected or likely to be affected by the use of:
    • over-the-counter medicines
    • prescription medicines
    • illegal or controlled substances
    • alcohol
  • assess whether your ability to drive safely and legally is affected by:
    • your emotional state
    • a short or long-term physical condition
    • tiredness
  • make other travel arrangements when your ability to drive safely or legally is affected
  • get help to make any changes needed for you to drive safely and responsibly if you have a long-term physical condition

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • what the law says about driving while you have illegal or controlled substances or alcohol in your system
  • how illegal or controlled substances or alcohol affect your ability to drive safely, and:
    • that regardless of any legal limits, it’s best to have no alcohol in your system
    • how the strength of alcohol varies in different types of drink
    • what a ‘unit’ of alcohol is equivalent to in different types of drink
    • how the body processes drugs and alcohol and the rate at which they’re removed from your system
    • that any alcohol can make you more likely to fall asleep, even if the levels in your blood are below the legal limit
  • how over-the-counter or prescription medicines can affect your ability to drive safely
  • the risks linked to any combination of:
    • over-the-counter medicines
    • prescription medicines
    • illegal or controlled substances
    • alcohol
  • that any remedy or medicine with instructions that say ‘may cause drowsiness’ is highly likely to cause drowsiness
  • the range of possible solutions to help people with long-term physical conditions drive safely and responsibly
  • how being tired before or during your journey affects your ability to drive, and:
    • how a poor seating position and bad posture can make you tired
    • that a poor diet or eating food at the wrong time can make you more likely to fall asleep
    • that there are times of the day when people are likely to feel more sleepy
  • how emotional states (like anger, grief, sadness and joy) can affect your ability to drive safely
  • that being careless, thoughtless and/or reckless are frequent causes of crashes
  • how a short-term injury (like a sprained ankle) can affect your ability to drive safely
  • that eyesight gets worse over time, and that not realising or doing anything about it can affect your ability to drive safely and legally
  • the need to have an eyesight test at least every 2 years
  • that you must wear glasses or contact lenses all the time when driving if you need them to meet the driving eyesight rules
  • how different sorts of tinted and light-sensitive lenses or visors react in different driving conditions
  • that changes to your physical and mental abilities, particularly as you get older, can affect your ability to drive safely (such as slower reaction times or reduced muscle strength)
  • how to make other travel plans when your ability to drive safely or legally is affected

Element 1.1.3: Control the risks linked with carrying passengers, loads and animals

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • manage how passengers affect your ability to drive safely
  • make sure passengers are seated legally, correctly and securely
  • make sure loads are secure and distributed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines
  • allow for the effect that extra loads may have on how the vehicle handles
  • make sure animals are secure and correctly restrained within the vehicle

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • the law for fitting and using seatbelts
  • the law for fitting and using baby seats, child seats, booster seats and booster cushions
  • the importance of using head-restraints, where fitted, and of adjusting them correctly
  • the correct use of airbags (such as when using a baby seat)
  • the law on the carriage of loads on the outside of the vehicle
  • how to use the vehicle handbook to identify how best to safely load the vehicle
  • what types of load-carrying and securing equipment you can use with the vehicle and how to fit and use them
  • how to restrain animals safely
  • how to make sure that you can still see clearly if windows or mirrors are blocked by passengers or by a load
  • how to adjust the vehicle to allow for extra weight and changed weight distribution
  • how to adjust your driving behaviour to allow for extra weight or changed weight distribution
  • how to deal with social pressure and distractions that passengers cause

Unit 1.2: Make sure the vehicle is safe to drive

There are 3 elements in this unit:


Element 1.2.1: Make routine checks that your vehicle’s safe to drive

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • check all fluid levels, including windscreen washer reservoir(s)
  • check that the horn is working correctly
  • check that all lights and reflectors are:
    • legal
    • clean
    • in good working order
  • check electrical equipment is in good working order
  • check there is no damage that would:
    • affect your ability to drive the vehicle safely
    • make the vehicle illegal
    • have an adverse environmental impact
  • check all tyres, including any spare, are:
    • legal
    • correctly inflated
  • check any equipment, such as the car jack, is in good working order
  • check all controls are in good working order
  • check windscreen, mirrors and other viewing devices are clear and adjusted to give the best view
  • check registration plates are:
    • fitted
    • visible
    • legal
  • check that any ancillary equipment (like aftermarket sat nav systems or ‘head-up’ displays) is legal to use in the vehicle and securely fitted in a position that minimises distraction to you
  • make sure checks are carried out by a competent person where you are unable or unwilling to carry them out yourself

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • that different vehicles may permit different levels of access to check and maintain fluid levels, check electric systems etc, and some checks or maintenance on some vehicles should only be carried out by qualified mechanics
  • that the vehicle handbook identifies which checks can be carried out by the owner or user and explains how and when to carry them out, either directly or using the vehicle’s instrumentation
  • that overfilling with engine oil can:
    • damage your engine
    • increase the amount of environmental pollution the vehicle creates
  • that using oil that isn’t to the manufacturer’s specification:
    • can increase fuel consumption
    • may cause damage
    • could affect the vehicle warranty
  • what fluids to add to the vehicle coolant system and the need to maintain the level of coolant additive
  • how to check that tyres:
    • are correctly fitted and inflated
    • meet legal requirements for tread depth
    • are free from defects that would make them unsafe or illegal to use
  • the rules that apply to the fitting of different types of tyres
  • that tyres specially adapted for different weather conditions are available (such as winter tyres or all-season tyres)
  • that the operation of any equipment could results in the driver taking their eyes off the road
  • how to spot signs of abnormal tyre wear and the need to have the vehicle checked if abnormal wear is found
  • that the windscreen and other windows should be clean and free from obstructions and that there are legal limits to the amount and location of damage to windscreens, beyond which they must be replaced
  • that lights, indicators, reflectors and number plates must be clean at all times
  • any rules that apply to the fitting and use of ancillary equipment and how to make sure it can be used safely and with the minimum of distraction
  • what electrical equipment to check
  • what controls to check
  • the legal need to dispose of or recycle oil, batteries and tyres correctly

Element 1.2.2: Check the vehicle is fit for the journey

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • familiarise yourself with the vehicle if it is the first time you have driven it
  • conduct pre-journey checks and configure the vehicle correctly
  • make changes to your driving position so that you:
    • are safely and comfortably seated
    • have good all-round visibility
    • have control of the vehicle
    • minimise tiredness
  • check there is enough fuel of the right type

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • what pre-journey checks are needed and what adjustments to make
  • the effect of filling a vehicle with the wrong sort of fuel
  • how to check what sort of fuel your vehicle uses
  • the operation of low-fuel, mpg or range indicators and how much fuel is left in the tank when low-fuel indicators operate

Element 1.2.3: Make sure the vehicle’s documents meet the legal requirements

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • make sure your driving licence is valid for the category of vehicle being driven
  • make sure the vehicle is registered and taxed
  • make sure you have valid insurance for the use you intend to make of the vehicle
  • make sure that the vehicle has a current MOT certificate (where applicable)
  • display red L plates (or if you wish, red D plates in Wales) if you are a provisional licence holder
  • make sure that the correct documents are in place even if you don’t own the vehicle
  • where your journey will take you into an area where different rules apply, make sure that you follow those rules

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • that you must:
    • have a valid driving licence for the vehicle you drive
    • meet any restrictions on your licence
  • that learner drivers, holding a provisional licence, must be supervised by somebody who:
    • is at least 21 years old, and
    • has held a licence to drive the category of vehicle for at least 3 years
  • that any vehicle driven by a learner must clearly display legal, red L plates (or in Wales either red L or red D plates, or both)
  • that L (D) plates should be removed when a vehicle is not being driven by a learner
  • that the vehicle must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  • the law on the taxation of vehicles and the need to make a statutory declaration (SORN) if you take the vehicle off the road and stop taxing it for any period of time
  • that you must notify the DVLA if you:
    • change your name or address
    • have or develop a medical condition that will affect your ability to drive
    • buy or sell a vehicle
    • make any substantive changes to your vehicle
  • that you must have a minimum of third party insurance covering you for the intended use of the vehicle, and what insurance companies require you to do to meet your obligations under that insurance
  • that you must hold a valid MOT test certificate for the vehicle if it is more than 3 years old
  • that, if required by an authorised person, you must be able to produce:
    • your driving licence
    • a valid insurance certificate
    • a current MOT certificate either immediately or within seven days to a police station
  • that if you borrow or rent a vehicle you still must make sure that you have the correct documents
  • that if you lend somebody your vehicle you still must make sure that they have the correct documents
  • that if you drive outside Great Britain there may be different document rules, like a need to have your documents with you at all times

Unit 1.3: Plan a journey

There is one element in this unit - plan a journey.


Element 1.3.1 Plan a journey

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • plan a suitable route taking into account:
    • road conditions
    • weather conditions
    • traffic
    • driving experience
    • the vehicle you are using
  • work out the time needed to complete your journey safely and legally, including rest breaks and refuelling stops
  • decide whether it is safe to make a journey in poor weather conditions
  • consider other routes if your planned route is blocked, or if weather conditions make it unsafe to continue
  • program any sat nav systems before you start your journey so that you’re not distracted while driving
  • be prepared for the possibility that your journey may be delayed or affected by poor weather conditions, by taking:
    • suitable clothing
    • equipment
    • food and drink
  • plan where you intend to park at the end of your journey

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • the principles of mapping, the technologies available for route planning and for monitoring road traffic conditions, and the limitations of these technologies
  • the need to build in extra time to allow for unforeseen delays
  • how congestion charges and road and bridge tolls may affect your choice of route
  • how the risks involved in travelling on some routes can change at different times, such as:
    • heavier traffic at rush hour or in the holiday season
    • lower stability on exposed routes in windy conditions
  • the link between your level of skill and experience and whether you should choose a particular route
  • how to get information on likely weather conditions and how they might affect your journey
  • when using sat nav systems:
    • how to program them
    • the information they can provide
    • that they can sometimes fail, and how to prepare for that happening
  • the importance of minimising distractions while driving
  • how to find safe, secure, legal and convenient places to park