The MSPSL Routine
Reading this page should give a better understanding of what’s required at junctions and should give more productive lessons.
The MSPSL routine is an expansion of the Highway Codes MSM routine to be used at junctions (MSM being mirror, signal, manoeuvre). The manoeuvre part being position, speed and look.
M – Mirrors
S – Signal
P – Position
S – Speed then gears
L – Look
Centre mirror – checks the rear of the car, if a car is close an early signal or earlier braking may be required, this gives the following car a little more time.
Left wing mirror – checks the kerbside or nearside of the car, check for cyclists or motorbikes.
Right mirror – checks the roadside or offside of the car, check for vehicles overtaking or committing to a right turn earlier than you are.
Make use of all mirrors fitted to the car so for a left turn, centre and left, for a right turn centre and right, for following the road ahead at crossroads, (straight on) centre and right. Using mirrors in pairs or even checking all three helps to dispel the myth that you need to offset the mirrors. Driving Instructors and Test Examiners are very adept at seeing your mirror checks. The mirrors need to be checked before changing speed, before changing direction and before signalling.
We signal to tell other road user of our intentions.
Left/right indicator – to alert other road users to a turn or parking. Signal timing is important, too early and a following vehicle may think your pulling over. Too late and it may be unsafe for a following vehicle.
Brake lights – you may have to hold back on a signal if your taking the second of two turns that are close together. In this case the brake lights become the signal, so MSPSL may become mirrors, position, speed, signal, look, with the brake lights and position signalling your intentions.
The position taken for a manoeuvre is a form of signal, for example if a car we are following approaches a crossroads and positions in the middle of its lane, we would assume its wanting to go straight. For a left turn after mirrors and signal you should take a left position and if road width allows, about a metre from the kerb. For a right turn a position moving up to the centre line is required, or a lane in the middle of the road may need to be used. If you don’t take that position then the another road user might, so an early taken position would be a safer option. For straight at crossroads, (or follow the road ahead as an examiner would ask) position the same as a left turn, this combined with the absence of a signal gives a clear message your going straight. A signal combined with bad position will confuse other road users. Remember position is a form of signal.
Speed Then Gears
After mirrors, signal, position, we need to slow the car down. As a general rule most turns are going to need a speed of anything between 5-15 mph, depending on how sharp the turn is, how far you can see in to the new road and any obstructions in it. After using the foot brake to reduce speed then we select the appropriate gear. As a general rule this is usually 2nd gear, but gradual turns with no hazards may be 3rd, or tight sharp turns may be 1st. Only by having a good approach speed and practice will you build up your judgement and enable you to make good decisions. Don’t try doing them too fast too soon. The above must be done as a general rule about 3 car lengths away from turning.
For left turns look down the road your on and into the new road, for right turns look down the road your on and into the new, look for a safe gap to cross into the new road and keep looking for the point of turn.
It’s impossible to give you in words a plan that will work at every junction we come to, but using MSPSL will give you a logical pattern to follow and keep the manoeuvre safe.