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This guide explains the top 10 reasons people fail the car driving test in Great Britain
You need to be a good driver to pass the driving test. This Lesson Plus guide gives examples of the types of mistakes people make during their test and failing driving test. The driving test pass rate was 45.9% between April 2019 and March 2020. Many people who failed their test made at least one of the mistakes explained in this guide.
If you regularly make any of the mistakes explained in this guide during your driving lessons, you’re not ready to take and pass your driving test.
You must make effective observations before moving into a new road & make sure it is safe before proceeding. Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Junctions – Observations’ fault on your driving test result.
When you turn either left or right from a minor road, you make observations but fail to judge the speed of the approaching vehicle. You move off, forcing the vehicle to slow significantly.
When you approach a roundabout, there’s a vehicle approaching from the right. You still enter the roundabout, causing the vehicle approaching to slow down.
When you emerge from a junction, you make no effective observations at all. This causes:
When you’re on a slip road to join a dual carriageway, you enter the dual carriageway without making any observations, or you do not give way to the traffic on the main carriageway.
When you approach a crossroads, you do not recognise that it’s a junction. You emerge and cross the crossroads without making any observations to the right or left.
When you emerge from a junction, you look too late (either left or right) for the observations to be effective, as you’re already partly into the next road.
Throughout the test, when you turn left from a minor road into a busier road, you do not make any effective observations to the left. This means you’re unaware of any parked vehicles, obstructions or other possible hazards.
Any mistakes you make in this area when changing direction will be counted under the ‘Mirrors – Change direction’ fault on your driving test result.
You need to take the right-hand exit on a large multi-lane roundabout. When you move from the right-hand lane to the left-hand lane to exit the roundabout, you make no rear or passenger-side observations or mirror checks.
When you’re on a dual carriageway, you check your mirrors when changing lanes, but there’s a vehicle approaching in the lane you want to move into. You start to change lanes anyway, causing the approaching vehicle to slow down.
When you’re driving on a roundabout, you try to change lanes when there’s a vehicle directly alongside you. The driving examiner has to take control of the steering wheel to stop a collision.
When you exit a roundabout, you do not check your mirrors and cut across the path of a closely following vehicle to the left-hand side of the car.
You must be able to steer the car as smoothly as possible. You must steer at the appropriate time, as steering too early or late can cause the car to hit the kerb or swing out towards another road user.
Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Control – Steering’ fault on your driving test result.
Throughout the test, when you turn left, you repeatedly understeer, not following the shape of the kerb. This means there’s not enough space for vehicles turning right to fit alongside your car.
When you drive around a bend at an appropriate speed, you do not apply enough steering. This causes both passenger-side wheels to mount the pavement.
When you turn right into a minor road, you steer late and not enough. This causes a ‘swan neck’ effect, and you drive fully onto the wrong side of the new road to correct your position.
Throughout the test, when you pull up on the left-hand side of the road, you mount the pavement with both passenger-side wheels before the car returns to the road.
When you approach parked vehicles, you steer late and get too close to the parked vehicles.
You must be able to position the car as close to the centre of the road as is safe.
Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Junctions – Turning right’ fault on your driving test result.
When you need to turn right at a roundabout, you use the left-hand lane when it’s not appropriate, and continue around the roundabout in that lane. This causes confusion to several following vehicles.
When you want to turn right into a minor road, you position your car too far to the left while you wait for oncoming traffic to clear. This causes severe delays to the following traffic on a road where it was wide enough for the traffic to pass you on the left.
When you reach the end of a wide road with no road markings, you position in the left of your lane when you’re actually turning right.
You must be able to move off safely while making the correct observations:
Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Moving off – Safety’ fault on your driving test result.
When you move off from behind a parked vehicle, you check your mirrors and blind spot, but still move off into the path of an approaching vehicle. This causes the vehicle to significantly slow down.
Throughout the test, you repeatedly move off from the side of the road with no blind spot checks in situations where they’re needed.
After the ‘pull up on the right’ exercise, you move off with either an oncoming vehicle or a closely approaching vehicle from behind. This causes the vehicle to severely slow down or stop.
After you do the emergency stop exercise, you move off without making any rear observations, having been stationary in the middle of the lane for some time.
You must act correctly at traffic lights, checking that the road is clear before you proceed when the green light shows.
Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Response to signs – Traffic lights’ fault on your driving test result.
When a red light is clearly showing, you attempt to proceed through the junction.
At a signal-controlled junction with an advanced stop line to allow cyclists to be positioned ahead of other traffic, you stop beyond the first white line in the area for cyclists.
When you need to turn right at a junction, you continue to wait in the middle of the junction when the repeater light has turned red and the oncoming traffic has stopped. This causes you to completely block the junction controlled by traffic lights.
When a green light or a green filter light is clearly visible, you continue to wait at a clear junction. You make no attempt to proceed.
When the traffic lights are green, you go ahead, even though the junction is not clear. This then means you’re then blocking the junction when the traffic lights change.
You must be able to:
Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Positioning – Normal driving’ fault on your driving test result.
Throughout the test, you repeatedly drive too close to either:
When you drive on a dual carriageway, you unnecessarily drive in the right-hand lane for a considerable length of time.
When you go ahead at a roundabout with no lane markings, you ‘straight-line’ the roundabout with no consideration for following vehicles. ‘Straight-lining’ means you drive in a straight line in the road, rather than following the bend of the roundabout.
You must be able to understand and be able to react to all traffic signs.
Any mistakes you make in this area will show as ‘Response to signals – Traffic signs’ in your result.
You go to the wrong side of a ‘keep left’ sign in the road.
You ignore either:
You drive in a bus lane when a sign shows that you cannot use it at that time.
When you approach a roundabout, you get into the wrong lane when a sign clearly shows which lane you should go in. You then go around the roundabout in the wrong lane.
You either act far too late or not at all when a clearly visible sign shows a change of speed limit.
You must be able to move off under control, including on a slope or hill (gradient), from behind a parked vehicle and at junctions.
Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Move off – Control’ fault on your driving test result.
When you move off at a green traffic light or during a hill start, you stall the car and roll back a considerable distance.
Throughout your test, you repeatedly stall the car when you try to move off.
On one occasion during your test, when you move off you repeatedly stall because of things like being in the wrong gear or poor clutch control. This results in the driving examiner giving you guidance.
When you try to move off, you do not select a gear. This then causes the car to roll back a considerable distance.
You must be able to control the car accurately when you:
Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Reverse park – Control’ fault on your driving test result.
When you complete a parallel park, either the front or back wheels (or both) on the passenger side end up on the pavement.
When you park in a bay or at the side of the road, you take too many attempts to either:
When you park in a bay, you lose control of the car.
When you park in a bay, your final parking position is outside of the lines of the bay.