Controlling the car at low speed is an essential skillControlling the car at low speed is an essential skillThe coordination required and the skills to control the car at very slow speed are essential to almost all aspects of driving. Slowing to a stop, or almost a stop, finding the bite point and then moving again are skills you'll need to use time and time again. You can't drive anywhere without doing it and it's a skill you'll use over and over again. Even as you start your driving test on the test centre car park, you'll need just this skill as you leave and enter the main road.

This is an area that many learners worry about, sometimes without even realising what it is that they're really scared of.

For instance, many are afraid of dealing with busy roundabouts. To them, it's the roundabout that's the problem. The reality is that it's often controlling the car at low speeds and the fear of stalling that's the real issue. Similarly with emerging from junctions. Often the junction isn't the issue, it's the slowing down and crawling up to the line before getting going again that's the real problem.

Learning to deal with this is of enormous value to you, so don't be afraid of it. Get some practice with your instructor and reap the rewards.

You'll often find yourself slowing to almost a complete stop and having to control the car at very, very slow speeds, and you'll probably do it over and over again on every drive you take. It's a good idea to read the page on how the clutch works as this will give you a greater understanding of how the clutch works with the other controls of the car.

A great exercise to develop your coordination and confidence in the car is to practice slowing to about 2 or 3 miles per hour, keeping the car moving very slowly, then speeding up again to a normal driving speed.

Make sure you practice this when you're not going to cause problems or dangers for any other road users.

When Do You Need Control At Slow Speeds?

Think about it, you need to be able to do this when you're pulling over at the side of the road, you also need these skills when you're emerging from a junction and you need to move at a crawling pace to open up your view and get moving again when it's safe. You also need this skill when you're looking to enter a roundabout.

On almost every drive you take throughout your life, you'll find that you have periods of free moving traffic and times when you are virtually crawling along in traffic queues. Every drive is like a mixture of these two things.

Strangely, the free moving bits of the drive at higher speeds are far easier because they demand less coordination and less control skills. The parts of your drive when you need to crawl along and much more involved. You need to develop great control skills to deal with this, and it really is worth the practice time to get it right.

Quite honestly, get this part of driving right and the rest will seem like a doddle. Entering roundabouts will hold no fear for you because you won't need to worry about the control of the car, you'll be able to concentrate all your attention on what's going on outside.

How To Practice Car Control At Low Speeds

You can practice control skills at slow speed and reap the rewardsYou can practice control skills at slow speed and reap the rewardsA great way to practice this is to follow this routine.

Find a quiet road or some area in which you can practice without causing problems for anyone else, then go through the following:

  1. Get the car moving at about 20 to 25 miles per hour in 3rd gear
  2. Using MSM, check the mirrors to make sure it's safe behind you
  3. Gently but firmly squeeze the brake.Make your braking progressive, squeeze gently at first, then press the pedal more firmly. You'll release this gradually but quite quickly as the car slows down.
  4. As the speed of the car reduces, the engine will struggle so dip the clutch to avoid stalling
  5. Get the car down to a crawling pace. You should literally feel that you could walk faster
  6. Now come off the brake pedal and put your foot over the gas pedal.
  7. Almost at the same instant, move the car from 3rd gear straight into 1st gear, no need to bother with 2nd.
  8. Now practice the 'interplay' between the clutch and the gas pedal. Gently squeeze the gas whilst slowly lifting the clutch slightly. You should be able to keep the car moving very slowly indeed, as though in a traffic queue about to enter a roundabout
  9. Make sure it's safe to carry on this exercise throughout by checking the mirrors
  10. Extend this exercise by gently accelerating to about 10 miles per hour and go into 2nd gear.
  11. Now go through this again, using the brakes to get down to a literal crawling pace, selecting 1st gear and experimenting with the use of the clutch and the gas pedals to keep the car moving

There's nothing at all wrong with finding a quiet, empty road and simply practising getting the car under control at extremely slow speeds. The benefits to your driving are enormous and the rest of your lessons will be much more enjoyable and easier.

Good luck with your driving

Dave