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Top 10 Driving Test Errors & How to avoid them

Top 10 Driving Test Errors & How to avoid them

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Driving instructors have been tipped off about the top 10 fails to beat the post-lockdown backlog

Learner L plates and highway code on a double yellow line


Top 10 Driving Test Errors

According to the government body which oversees driving standards, the DVSA, the top ten mistakes are:

  • Junctions (observation)
  • Mirrors (changing direction)
  • Control (steering)
  • Junctions (turning right)
  • Move off (safely)
  • Response to signals (traffic lights)
  • Positioning (normal driving)
  • Response to signals (Traffic Signs)
  • Move off (control)
  • Reverse/parallel park (control)

learner drivers

Across the UK, driving instructors and examiners are now back at work – but there’s a huge backlog of learners waiting to learn and tests waiting to be taken.

With this in mind, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has written to instructors across the UK to inform them of the most common test failures, so they can help their students focus on them and increase the number of passes to reduce the strain on the system.

The information has been shared by The Bill Plant Driving School, which reveals that the most common failures include not making effective observations at junctions, not using mirrors correctly when changing direction, and not having proper control of the steering.

Other common failures include incorrect positioning when turning right at junctions, not moving off safely and not responding appropriately at traffic lights.

The rest of the top 10 includes poor positioning on the road during normal driving, not responding correctly to traffic signs, not having control of the vehicle when moving off, and not keeping control of the vehicle during reverse parking.

Peter Brabin, head of training at Bill Plant, said: “It’s really interesting to have this data broken down by the DVSA, highlighting exactly what UK learner drivers are most commonly struggling with when on their driving tests.

The average test pass rate for 2020 in the UK was 46%.


learner drivers

10 Tips for Passing Your Driving Test

  1. Poor observation at junctions will be marked as a fault if, for example, the candidate doesn’t look properly – both ways, left and right! – and pulls out causing another vehicle to slow or take some kind of avoiding action.
  1. The correct use of mirrors is something that examiners will be looking for before the learner starts to slow the car and demonstrating they know what’s behind them and have planned for it before easing off the accelerator or applying the brakes.The mirror-signal-manoeuvre routine can literally be a life saver if a driver moves to the right in a filter lane or changes lanes on a dual carriageway and into the path of a motorbike which had already begun to overtake….not demonstrating to the examiner that they know at all times what is around them can easily be the difference between a pass and a fail and with very good reason.
  1. Control of the car and good steering are obviously fundamental to safe driving. Not using enough steering so the car runs wide on a bend and mounts a kerb or using too much so several corrections are needed to guide the car away from the centre line and through a corner are all major mistakes. Incorrect steering is so basic to safe progress that there is no excuse for it, even on unfamiliar roads or in an unfamiliar car, and it is hard to make a case that a candidate is good enough to be allowed to drive solo if they haven’t mastered the coordination between what their eye tells them and their inputs on the steering wheel.
  1. Turning right at junctions.  There are several ways a learner can be tripped up with this.  Not being prepared for, or not observing, hazards such as pedestrians, cyclists or parked cars in the road you want to drive into, turning in front of oncoming traffic which then has to brake, cutting the corner…all are mistakes an examiner will mark you down for.
  1. Moving off (safety). The common fault here is not looking at what the traffic is doing ahead. If you accelerate away from a junction, perhaps entering a roundabout, or at some traffic lights and not notice that the vehicle in front hasn’t moved quite so quickly as you anticipated causing at best, a sudden brake, and at worst, a front-to-rear bump, does not go down well with an examiner!
  1. Positioning in regular traffic. Cars need to keep to their side of the road and unless there is a good reason why not, should normally be in the middle of their lane. Straddling lanes is very annoying to other drivers and dangerous and crossing the white dividing line on a single carriageway route, say a B road, or cutting a corner is another major mistake.
  1. Moving off (control). Coordinating the clutch and accelerator so the car moves off smoothly without a stall or any `bunny hopping’ is a key skill all drivers should have. Stalling can take cars behind by surprise, possibly resulting in them driving into you, and bunny hopping indicates as well as anything that the driver is not in control. Examiners will not be impressed. Getting the clutch/accelerator right is harder when moving off up a hill but it just has to be mastered.

Traffic lights and yellow box

  1. Response to signals (traffic lights). This should be self-explanatory but it is surprising how many drivers still get them wrong. If they are already on red and turn amber, the driver should be engaging first gear, disengage the handbrake if used, checking behind (again!) and at any side roads in case someone is looking likely to carry on even the lights for them have turned red. As for approaching traffic lights which have been on red for a while a driver has to show to the examiner that they are prepared to slow down (check mirrors!) and stop. Another common mistake is to stop at traffic lights but in the area designated for cyclists.
  2. Reverse parking. Perhaps not as critical as it once was and the `reverse-around-a-corner’ test has been dropped but parking in a bay, or parallel parking, are still a key skill for a driver and are part of the exam. Under or over steering are mistakes but the unforgiveable one is not looking and checking first.
  1. Response to signals (traffic signs). Not being aware of the speed limit is no defence either in a court of law or when the examiner fails you for speeding! There are however, many more less obvious ones. Paint on a road means more information for you to take in, be that a Give Way sign, or a yellow box junction you are not supposed to enter unless your exit is clear. Traffic signs on overhead gantries, at the road side signs or paint on the road are there for a good reason and there is no excuse for (a) not knowing them or (b) not heeding them.

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