Top 10 reasons for failing the driving test

Passing the practical driving test isn’t easy. From April 2019 to April 2020 just 45.9% of tests ended with a thumbs up from the examiner. To help drivers prepare, the DVSA has published the top 10 reasons for failing the driving test.

Here’s what they are – and what you can do about them…

1. Not making effective observations at junctions

Practise ‘eye scanning’. Instead of fixing your eyes directly in front of you, keep looking all around you and in your mirrors. Take particular care to look for other road users who have the right of way over you at junctions, so you can wait for a safe gap to pull into.

2. Not using mirrors correctly when changing direction

Eye scanning can help with this one, too. You need 360˚awareness of what’s going on around you, especially before changing direction. Always look in the mirrors and check your blind spot before a direction change.

3. Not having proper control of the steering

To have a strong chance of passing the practical, steering the car should be second nature. If it’s not, keep practising. The push-pull method is best under most circumstances (when you push the wheel with one hand then pull with the other without crossing your hands over). But the important thing is to retain control.

4. Incorrect positioning when turning right at junctions

Some new drivers hate turning right. Don’t get anxious, remember your Mirror, Position, Speed and Look routine (MPSL). Take up a position just left of the middle of the road or within the space marked for traffic turning right. Be cautious in judging the speed of oncoming traffic and make the turn once you are sure it is completely safe.

5. Not moving off safely

Go by the book each and every time. Remember Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre (MSM) – that way you won’t pull away until it is safe to do so, and you will have shown your intentions to other road users. Observation and good judgement are key.

6. Not responding appropriately to traffic lights

Scan the road well ahead to spot traffic lights, and prepare to slow down and stop if necessary. If you do stop, keep an eye on the lights as you wait for them to change from red to red and amber, then green. Get ready to move away when the lights turn to red and amber, but don’t move until the are green.

7. Poor positioning on the road during normal driving

Stay within your lane unless you are changing lanes or pulling out to overtake. When overtaking vulnerable road users such as cyclists, always leave a car’s width of space between you.

8. Not responding correctly to traffic signs

Continually look for signs and road markings, interpret the information they are giving you, and respond appropriately. Don’t let your theory knowledge slip between your theory and practical tests.

9. Not having control of the vehicle when moving off

Like good steering, clutch and throttle control should be second nature by the time of your practical test. Practise pulling away smoothly without jerkiness or spinning wheels, while accelerating to a safe and legal speed.

10. Not keeping control of the vehicle during reverse parking

Reverse parking requires accuracy and control, not speed. Don’t get flustered, take your time, and get in plenty of practice.

Get more help with the top 10 reasons for failing the driving test

It’s one thing to read about how to fix the top 10 reasons for failing the driving test, another for those fixes to really sink in. That’s why FirstCar has created the Driving Test Wiz app to help new drivers prepare for the practical test and avoid the most common mistakes.

Driving test wiz

Developed with help from one of Britain’s top driving instructors, the app gives access to 10 video modules designed to prepare you for the practical driving test.

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