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Road position - how can I sort it?

Road position - how can I sort it?

This issue crops up regularly on my student's driving lessons, so I thought it would be useful to explore the subject a bit further. There is some really good online information on this subject entitled "Your position on the road" which you can access via the Safe Driving for Life website; see References below. The information in the article discusses how, 

"Driving in the correct position on the road is important for safety and helps traffic flow freely."

And it does it so well that I see little point in repeating their advice! 

For this reason, I'd simply like to discuss how YOU, as a learner driver, can help yourself learn how to drive in the correct road position. I'm sure your driving instructor will have gone through various methods to help you achieve a normal road position already, but I'm hoping you will find some of the following suggestions effective. 

Reference points

I'm hoping you will already be familiar with and understand what I mean by reference points? For those of you who aren't, let me explain. Reference points are...simply, points of reference that help you consistently get your car in the right position again and again and again. Let's look at how to use them. 


I want you to park your car 10 cms (or a palm's width), away from the kerb. Now, I'd like you to look at where the bottom of the kerb cuts into the bottom of your windscreen...and take a mental snapshot and remember it. Now look in your left mirror and do the same for where your passenger door handle sits in relation to the kerb...and take another mental snapshot. These are your reference points for parking at the side of the road. 


Every time you want to park 10cms away from the kerb all you have to do is to drive slowly (walking pace), and steer gently towards the kerb until your front reference point lines up on the bottom of your windscreen. Then check that your left reference point is where it should be in relation to the door handle. And that should be you, perfectly parked! 

You know where this is leading now don't you? Yes, that's right, you can get a reference point for your normal road position! You'll need to find a really quiet road so you can get your car in your normal driving position so that you can take your reference point. Notice I say point and not point? You won't be able to use the door handle as it will be too far away from the kerb and it will take your eyes too far away from the road ahead. Once you've got your reference point, take a mental snapshot and use it when you need to keep your car in the correct position. 

Personally, I have to admit, I don't like this reference point as I find it very difficult to line up the kerb on the bottom of my windscreen when the car is moving! So, I came up with a couple of my own that I'll happily share with you. The first one, and my personal favourite is, 

The steering wheel

I love this one cause it's so easy! It's so easy (and effective), that you can get it while you're on the move! Again, find yourself a nice quiet road because that way you're minimising risks. Then simply position your car so that your steering wheel appears to be in the centre of the lane. It's best to use a road that has centre white lines...for obvious reasons! You can do it on a road without the white lines, but it's much harder! When you get this right, you'll find your car is positioned just left of centre, which is your ideal road position for normal driving. 

Driver's door

I don't use this one as much as the last one but it's still worth a mention. As before, get yourself in a very quiet road so you don't annoy the neighbours! Then, driving slowly, so you stay in charge, line up the centre white line so it appears to line up with the top of the door sill. You want it so it looks like the centre white lines appear to enter the bottom of the driver's window...or the top of the door sill. 

As a novice driver, I'd advise that you take the trouble to really "get" yourself a reference point that  works for YOU, on a regular reliable basis. The more you use them, the more you'll trust them, which will increase your confidence 

Parked cars - clearance

When your driving instructor introduces this subject to you, you'll be able to get a reference point for knowing when you're a foot away, two feet away and three feet away from the parked cars. This time, you won't be able to use the kerb, you'll have to draw an imaginary line from where the tyres of the parked cars are on the road, and use that as your kerb! If you really want to, you can do this for all three positions. Do be careful that you just glance to make sure your reference point is in the correct position, otherwise you'll find yourself steering towards the kerb! 


I feel I have to make mention of your exterior mirrors under this subject. I'm not going to suggest that you can use them as a reference point, however, some students have used them very effectively to ensure they stay in their normal driving position. Regular use of them will improve your general spatial awareness and some find they prefer them than using a reference point. 

I hope that you have found this article useful and that it will encourage you to go out and find yourself some really useful reference points that you can use on a daily basis when you drive. 

If you have any questions for me you know how to contact me! 

Helen Adams ADI,  Dip DI, Ordit registered ADI trainer.


Your position on the road. Accessed online on 22 September 2015 at,

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