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Useful Tips and Mnemonics

This page is a random collection of useful hints, tips and mnemonics for safer driving. Further contributions will be gratefully received.

IPSGA - the System of Car Control

This is the one you all know if you've picked up Roadcraft or any of the IAM’s publications.

Information (Get - Use - Give) (wraps round everything)

The Five Esses

This one came from a Police driver addressing an IAM meeting. I've also heard another version with only 4 Ss. These are some attributes of advanced driving in order of importance:

System (of car control)
Style (or Sparkle)

Don't be the Meat in the Sandwich

If you are on a three lane carriageway, whether it's a single carriageway road or half of a motorway or dual carriageway, if you are overtaking a vehicle in the left hand lane try not to be alongside it at the same time as you are being passed by a vehicle in the lane to your right.

The idea is that if the vehicle you are overtaking pulls out without seeing you, or if someone coming the other way pulls out to overtake then you should have somewhere to go. This is difficult to achieve on busy motorways!

Thumbs Out!

This isn't a requirement for the advanced test but it's a good safety tip. Always keep your thumbs on the outside of the steering wheel rim. If you are unfortunate enough to hit something on the road, or a curb, or if you have a blow-out the steering wheel can be rotated quite violently. It is easier to regain control if you don't have two broken thumbs!


This one comes from the Guild of Experienced Motorists:

Concentrate - Anticipate - Tolerate.

Brakes for Slowing, Gears for Going

Need we say more?

Slow to Flow

This means slowing down a bit so that the traffic flows more smoothly. paradoxically this can actually speed up your journey.



All things you need for safe driving on the motorway and elsewhere.


These are the things you should check at the start of every journey or at least once a week.

P Petrol (or Diesel, LPG, etc.) - Have you got enough fuel?
O Oil - check the engine oil and other fluid levels including transmission, brake and clutch fluids.
W Water - coolant and windscreen washer reservoir. Check that the washer jets are clean and correctly aimed. clean the Windscreen while you are about it. Remember the antifreeze and winter additive before the cold weather arrives.
D Damage - check for external damage, particularly if your car has been left in the street or a car park.
E Electrics - check external bulbs and warning lights, pumps and motors. If it's difficult to see the brake lights use the reflection in a shop window or the light bounced off the garage wall. If you have an ammeter you can check that the correct current is flowing when you apply the foot brake with the ignition on and the engine stopped (not so easy for LED lights but they are more robust).
R Rubber - check tyres for correct pressures, tread depth and absence of damage. Also check the condition of the windscreen wiper blades, and from time to time hoses and drive belts.
Y You - Are you fit to drive? Maybe this one should come first!

Can My Safety Be Given Away

This is an old IAM mnemonic which relates to the previous version of the system of car control:

Course - Mirror - Signal - Brake - Gear - Accelerate

Still a good one to remember although now the information bit wraps around everything else.

Richard Porter

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Last updated 12th April, 2017