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Steering – Pull Push – Driving Test

By September 12, 2016January 1st, 2017ADI's, Advanced, Learner Drivers


For some reason in the last couple of years this has become a subject of debate.

First off lets deal with a couple of myths, that you can’t cross your hands on the driving test or you must use pull push steering, and you can’t ‘dry steer’ otherwise you’ll fail.

Well the examiners handbook (DT1) states:- (In the technical update section)

“To ensure uniformity, when conducting car or vocational tests and ADI qualifying examinations, only assess the candidate’s ability to control the vehicle and do not consider it as a fault if, for example, they do not hold the steering wheel at ten to two or quarter to three or if they cross their hands when turning the steering wheel. The assessment should be based on whether the steering is smooth, safe and under control.”

What does The Essential Skills say?

Well if you look in an older edition it’ll say Pull-Push with the classic diagram – all the later editions simply say:

  • place your hands on the steering wheel in a position that’s comfortable and which gives you full control
  • keep your movements steady and smooth
  • turn the steering wheel to turn a corner at the correct time

Dry steering

When you’re manoeuvring, be careful not to turn the steering wheel when the car isn’t moving: this is called dry steering and it can cause

  • damage to the tyres
  • wear in the steering mechanism.

So its not best practice to dry steer. However how is it marked if you do?

DT1 Annex 6 :

04: Definition of driving faults – assessment parameters

Fault identified – not worthy (not worthy of recording).

Any insignificant deviation from the defined outcome that does not compromise safety or can be a matter of finesse.

For example – Dry steering, sequential gear changes, not pressing the button on top of the handbrake when applying it.

(Note that’s one of the very few places I disagree with the DT1 – sequential gear changes are a fault worthy of recording but that’s for another article)


So what are the steering faults?

  1. Steering: erratic steering, overshooting the correct turning point when turning right or left, both hands off steering wheel or hitting the kerb,unable to maintain a steady course in normal driving,‘Swan Neck’ turns when turning right,at a normal stop, mounting and dismounting the kerb,not following the contour of the kerb at a bell mouth junction

How should you hold the wheel?

My preference is ten to two or quarter to three. Thumbs should rest on the rim.

In the original Roadcraft requirement thumbs rested on the rim below 30mph and above 30mph were tucked around the rim to give increased grip at faster speeds. This requirement was dropped as being 10 overly prescriptive and 2) with the advent of vehicle airbags, there have been examples of broken thumbs from being bent backwards at speed during airbag deployment, so I would suggest thumbs resting on the rim is best practice.



I don’t intend to rehash the arguments for or against the technique,

Pull Push is the safest, most efficient method of steering, and has been taught for that reason for 80 years.

It does not mean and hasn’t ever meant that you have to shuffle your hands around the steering wheel for every deviation in course. It has always been acceptable to keep your hands fixed for minor deviations.

To my knowledge (and in fact I saw it detailed on an NHS ambulance trust course, only the other day) it remains a requirement in all Emergency Services driving courses as well as Skid Pan and extreme handling courses for the simple reason you cannot apply additional or full lock at high speed with fixed input techniques which will also lead to cross arms across the airbag in emergency steering and stopping situations.

In other civilian courses only the IAM have dropped the technique.

I would suggest it remains best practice for driver trainers, however – the extent to which you spend time with a client perfecting it will depend on which test you are preparing for.

I wouldn’t teach someone to dry steer just because its no longer recorded as a fault in the same way I wouldn’t teach an alternative steering technique. It’s not best practice.

There little point spending hours and hours with a learner on Pull Push if they are having problems mastering the technique if their existing steering is adequate for the test requirements.