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

Role 4: Drive safely and responsibly in the traffic system

What you must be able to do and understand to drive safely and responsibly in traffic.

Unit 4.1: Interact correctly with other road users

There are 2 elements in this unit:


Element 4.1.1: Communicate intentions to other road users

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • use indicators and arm signals to signal intentions correctly
  • support the use of any signals given by positioning the vehicle correctly and safely
  • use horn and lights to communicate with other road users where necessary

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • the arm signals shown in The Highway Code and when they may need to be given
  • when and how to use indicators
  • why you should make sure signals are given in good time and cancelled as soon as possible
  • how to employ a safe and systematic way to make the best use of signals
  • when signals must be given and when it is acceptable not to use them
  • the law on the use of the horn
  • when the flashing of headlights may be used as a warning of approach or instead of the horn
  • the risks linked to incorrect use of headlights or the horn as a signal
  • how and when to use hazard warning lights
  • how and when to use road positioning to confirm your intentions

Element 4.1.2: Co-operate with other road users

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • be aware of and predict the likely actions of other road users
  • give other road users enough time and space to perform manoeuvres
  • monitor and manage your own reaction to other road users
  • respond to emergency vehicles correctly
  • make progress in the traffic stream and overtake with consideration for other road users

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • how to scan the road ahead to gather useful information
  • the rules that apply to other road users, particularly drivers of large vehicles or vulnerable road users such as cyclists and motorcyclists, and the position that they may select on the road as a result
  • the importance of predicting the likely actions of other road users, especially vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists, children and the elderly
  • the importance of always keeping a safe stopping distance between the vehicle and other road users
  • how traffic and weather conditions may affect other road users, such as by reducing visibility, and how to allow for this
  • how to act safely and responsibly when emergency vehicles are responding to incidents
  • how to make safe progress in the traffic stream
  • the rules that apply to overtaking on the left
  • that driving without due care and attention and reasonable consideration for other road users is an offence

Unit 4.2: Minimise risk when driving

There are 3 elements in this unit:


Element 4.2.1: Identify and respond to hazards

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • continually scan the driving space close to the vehicle and into the distance
  • use visual clues to predict possible hazards and prepare for situations that may arise
  • judge the significance of possible hazards and prioritise your responses
  • respond to hazards safely
  • keep focused when faced with distractions

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • methods you can use to scan your driving space effectively, both close to and into the distance
  • what can affect your field of vision, such as parked vehicles, and how to allow for this
  • how the construction of your vehicle may affect your field of vision, and how to overcome this
  • what aquaplaning is and when it might happen
  • factors that might cause you to skid, such as oil or gravel on the road
  • how to read the road ahead and prepare for the unexpected
  • which kinds of hazard to particularly look for in different environments, such as tractors on rural roads, deer on forest roads or flooding in heavy rain
  • that many tunnels are equipped with radio transmitters so that drivers can tune in to be warned of any incidents, congestion or roadworks
  • that if you come across congestion in a tunnel that causes you to stop you should leave at least a 5 metre gap between you and the vehicle in front
  • when other road users are vulnerable and how to allow for them
  • factors that can distract the driver (such as talking to passengers or using a satellite navigation system) and how to manage them so that you are aware of the driving space and possible hazards
  • the law on the use of mobile phones whilst driving

Element 4.2.2: Drive defensively

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • create and maintain a safe driving space
  • scan and check your surroundings, especially blind spots
  • position your vehicle to maximise visibility to other road users
  • use dipped headlights when necessary during daylight hours
  • manage your own physical and emotional state to make sure you can manage risks to your safety
  • drive at such a speed that you can always stop safely in the distance you can see to be clear
  • assess your own driving behaviour and identify areas needing work

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • the importance of using a safe and systematic way to make sure you are always in control of your vehicle and travelling at the right speed, in the right gear and in the correct position on the road for the conditions
  • the importance of keeping a safe separation distance in all weather and traffic conditions
  • how to assess your own ability to drive safely and responsibly against best practice

Element 4.2.3: Drive in an ecologically responsible (eco-safe) way

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • accelerate and decelerate smoothly and progressively
  • foresee the need to stop, and use timely and smooth deceleration to reduce fuel consumption and general vehicle wear and tear
  • drive in the highest responsive gear to keep full control and avoid labouring the engine
  • remove extra load from the vehicle when not needed
  • turn off the engine when you are likely to be stationary for some time

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • what affects a vehicle’s fuel consumption
  • how effective scanning and planning can help you to use smooth acceleration or deceleration to keep momentum
  • how fuel consumption is increased by:
    • extra load
    • incorrectly inflated tyres
    • wind resistance, for example from carrying luggage on roof racks
  • that selecting the most suitable gear will avoid engine labour and maximise the effects of engine braking
  • the use of technologies to reduce exhaust pollution
  • under which circumstances it is appropriate to turn off the engine when stationary, rather than leave it idling
  • that you should never reduce safety to improve economy

Unit 4.3: Manage incidents effectively

There are 2 elements in this unit:


Element 4.3.1: Take suitable action if your vehicle breaks down

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • stop, in a safe place if possible, and switch off the engine
  • make sure passengers, animals and loads are managed safely
  • where suitable, give warning to other road users
  • seek appropriate help

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • where possible, how to keep control of the vehicle if it breaks down
  • the law on using the hard-shoulder on motorways and the guidance on waiting for breakdown services
  • how to identify your precise location on motorways, to allow breakdown services to reach you quickly
  • that it is better to use an emergency roadside telephone than a mobile phone because it allows the operator to find your exact position
  • how and when to use a warning triangle
  • how and when to use hazard warning lights

Element 4.3.2: Take suitable action if you’re involved in or witness a collision

Performance standards

You must be able to:

  • where suitable, stop and park your vehicle in a safe place
  • make sure passengers, animals and loads are managed safely
  • make sure warning is given to other road users
  • assess the incident scene and your safety
  • note the condition of any casualties
  • give clear and accurate information to emergency services
  • give suitable help to others at the scene
  • where possible, record information about what you saw or the scene as you found it, including taking photographs and drawing sketch plans
  • comply with legal requirements accurately and in good time, if required

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must know and understand:

  • the importance of making sure further injury and damage is not caused by:
    • managing uninjured passengers, animals and passers-by
    • giving warning to other road users as quickly as possible
  • how to contact the emergency services and the vital importance of giving them accurate information
  • the importance of being able to give information about the condition of casualties to the ambulance service
  • the benefits of gathering and recording information as soon as possible after the event
  • if you’re involved in an incident that causes damage or injury to another person, vehicle, animal or property, you must know the laws that apply to:
    • stopping
    • providing your details
    • giving statements
    • producing documents
  • the principles of first aid and the limits of your own first aid skills