Learning to Drive

How-To Guide: Moving Off And Stopping

February 1, 2024

7 min read

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Leon McKenzie

Content Writer

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An image of a person adjusting the rear view mirror in a car

In this guide, we're going to walk you through all of the steps involved in moving off and stopping your car.

Moving off

Though moving off might seem intimidating if you're a beginner learner driver, once you're aware of all of the steps involved, it will become a walk in the park.

If you're driving a manual car, you'll need to use your clutch, brake and gas pedals to move off safely.

If you're driving an automatic car, you'll need the brake and gas pedals to do so.

Diagram of foot on car pedal

Prepare to move

  • First things first, you need to prepare to move the car. The way you do this will vary depending on your transmission. (We'd like to emphasise here that you won't be moving just yet!)
  • If you're in a manual car, depress the clutch pedal fully and switch to first gear. Next, lightly press your foot down on the accelerator pedal and slowly start to bring the clutch up until you reach the biting point. You'll be able to feel the car dip and hear how the engine changes.
  • If you're in an automatic car, depress the brake pedal to start the car. Next, switch the gearbox to 'D' for driving. The moment you lift your foot off the brake the car will start to move, so leave this for the moment.
  • Though the handbrake will be engaged to stop you from moving, you'll still need to make sure you're not applying too much gas. After all, once the handbrake is off, you don't want the car to jolt forward!
Cartoon of left-hand side mirror of a car

Check your mirrors and blindspots

  • Before you start any manoeuvre or do anything on the road, you need to make your observations. It's vital that the road is clear of other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians before you move off.
  • If you don't check your mirrors, not only will you likely fail your driving test, you could also end up causing a serious accident. It's always better to be safe than sorry!
  • The best way to do your checks is in a clockwise fashion. Look over your left shoulder blindspot, the left side mirror, the front window and rear view mirror, the right side mirror and, finally, over your right shoulder blindspot.
  • You should not complete your checks before preparing your vehicle. If you do, in the time it takes you to set up your vehicle, the situation on the road might have changed—and it may no longer be safe to move off.
Cartoon image of arrows pointing left and right

Signal your intentions

  • Now that you're absolutely sure that it's safe for you to move off, it's now time for you to signal your intentions using your indicators. This will tell other road users to reduce their speed if they're approaching you.
  • The point of signalling is to help other road users. If you know that the road is completely clear, you can continue on without using your indicators. If you're on your driving test, however, you may wish to signal anyway just in case.
  • Depending on what side of the road you're on, you'll either use your left indicator or your right one.
  • If you spot a driver approaching in the distance just as you've signalled your intentions, you might be better off cancelling the signal until they pass. This will help you avoid having to rush.
Cartoon of car interior and road

Move off safely

  • Now it's time for you to finally move off! Start off by releasing your handbrake. You'll then feel the car slowly start to move forward. Do not add any more gas at this point. If you feel like you're moving too fast, slowly press the clutch pedal down.
  • Before you start to move off properly, you've got to start steering slightly away from the kerb. This will ensure that you move off towards the centre of your lane, instead of right next to the kerb.
  • Once you've adjusted the steering wheel, it's time for you to bring your foot entirely up from the clutch pedal whilst pressing your other foot on the accelerator pedal to add a bit more gas.
  • By this point, your car should be positioned in the centre of your lane (approximately one metre away from the kerb), allowing you to continue on your way.

If you're moving off uphill, you'll need to apply more gas in order to make your car move. You can find out more about this process in our guide to hill starts in a manual car, or in an automatic car.

If you're moving off downhill, all you've got to do is disengage the handbrake and, as the car slowly moves, bring up the clutch pedal, apply gas and be on your way.


Now that you've mastered the art of moving off, it's time for you to get to know the ins and outs of stopping your car. Fortunately, some of the steps are pretty similar to the ones we've already looked at, so you don't have to worry about information overload!

Cartoon picture of map pin

Pick a safe place

  • Before you can even think about stopping your car, you've first got to think about where you intend to stop. You can't just pick any old place, as you could end up making things more difficult for other road users, or even breaking the law.
  • You need to pick a safe, convenient and legal place to stop your car. This means that you need to avoid stopping too close to a junction, on a driveway, on double yellow lines or too close to a bend.
  • If you're trying to find a safe place on your driving test when the examiner asks you to pull over, keep a cool head. You don't have to pull over immediately. If you can't see a safe place straight away, keep driving until you do.
  • Once you've got your spot picked out, it's time for you to start taking action to ensure you're able to stop in time without disrupting other road users.
cartoon picture of rear-view mirror

Check your mirrors and blindspots

  • As we've said before, observations are critical when you intend to do anything on the road. You should never attempt to stop your car until you have completed all of your checks.
  • On the driving test, you might be asked to demonstrate an emergency stop. In this case, the examiner will carry out observations beforehand to ensure it's safe for you to do so—your job is to stop the car as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Check your mirrors and blindspots in a clockwise fashion. Look over your left shoulder blindspot, left side mirror, the front window and rear view mirror, right side mirror and then, finally, over your right shoulder blindspot.
  • Once you're sure that the road is clear, or that other road users are a safe distance away, you can proceed onto the next step.
Cartoon image of arrows pointing left and right

Signal your intentions and slow down

  • Before you come to a stop, you need to signal your intentions. The road users around you need to know that you intend to pull over early on, otherwise, you run the risk of them colliding into you.
  • Don't signal too early though. If you do it as you're approaching a road which you intend to stop after, other road users might assume you're turning into it. So, wait until after to avoid any confusion.
  • Now, apply your left or right indicator. If you don't see any road users around, you can forgo the signal altogether. Again, you might want to do this anyway if you're on your driving test.
  • Once you've signalled, you need to slow things down. You can reduce your speed by braking in a progressive fashion and moving down to a lower gear.
Cartoon picture of car getting ready to stop

Adjust your position and stop

  • As you begin to slow down, you need to start steering towards your chosen spot. This will allow you to pull over in an angled fashion, which will give you the chance to straighten up.
  • Once you're at your safe spot, you can start to make your adjustments before you come to a stop. Simply straighten up your wheels and steering wheel until you're parallel with the kerb (or wherever you have chosen).
  • Next, depress the clutch pedal all the way and press down on the brake pedal firmly to come to a stop. Then, apply the handbrake and switch to neutral gear. You can now take your feet off both pedals.
  • If your indicator is still flashing, make sure you cancel it to avoid confusing other road users.

Additional resources

Video tutorial

If it's a bit too much to take in, or you learn better by watching the process in real-life, the video tutorial below should do the trick!

Instructor Francis will walk you through all of the steps we've highlighted above when moving off and stopping the car. He'll even throw in some handy information about understanding the biting point and finding reference points! Enjoy!


1. How do you move off and stop?

Make your preparations by pressing down the clutch, switching to first gear and applying a bit of gas. Once you've made your observations, use your indicator and then disengage the handbrake. Steer away from the kerb, bring the clutch fully up and start to add more gas.

If you want to stop the car, simply brake gently in a progressive manner, depress the clutch pedal and then finish with a firm push on the brake pedal. Switch to neutral gear and keep your foot on the brake.

2. What mirrors do you need to check when moving off?

As mentioned above, if you intend to move off, you need to check all of your mirrors. Even if you're moving to the right, there might be a cyclist or pedestrian coming up on your left. In a clockwise fashion, check your left shoulder blindspot, left side mirror, interior mirror, right side mirror and, finally, your right shoulder blindspot.

3. What mirrors do you need to check when stopping?

It's the exact same process as above! In a clockwise fashion, check all of your mirrors and blindspots to make sure that it's safe for you to come to a stop.

4. When should I check my blindspots?

You should always check your blindspots when you intend to move off, stop and change lanes. You never know when a vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian might quietly drift into your blindspot.

5. How do you stop and move off at traffic lights?

If you see traffic lights ahead, you should start to slow down—don't wait until the last possible second to brake. Make your observations, brake in a progressive fashion and bring down the clutch.

Finish off with a firm push on the brake pedal, switch to first gear and keep your foot on the brake. Once you're ready to move, make your checks, take your foot off the brake pedal, bring up the clutch and apply gas.

6. Can you move off with just the clutch pedal?

Yes, it is possible to move the car without any gas at all if you're on a flat road or a hill. To avoid stalling, and to make sure you're able to move off in a quick and safe fashion, however, you're better off using some gas.

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