10 Top Reasons People Fail Their Practical Driving Test
The pass rate for the driving test is a mere 47 per cent, while the first-time pass rate is even lower (27%). Or put another way, most people who take their driving test, fail it. This might be the last thing you want to know if you’ve recently applied for your test, or you’re in the throes of preparing to, but forewarned, as they say, is forearmed.
You might as well know now what’s most likely to scupper your chances of passing, so you can make sure you don’t fall foul of any of them. To that end, these are the 10 most common reasons for failing the driving test.
Observation at junctions (11.9% Fail)
Every year there are loads of SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You) accidents. They’re caused by drivers pulling out from junctions without looking properly. Don’t just give a cursory glance before you make your manoeuvre – analyse properly what’s going on all around, ensuring there are no other road users bearing down on you. This includes cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.
Use of mirrors (8.2% Fail)
The driving test is all about proving that you’re a safe driver, which means knowing at all times what’s going on around you. That means constantly using your mirrors – all three of them – for an all-round view. All of the manoeuvres here rely on constant mirror scanning, but as you’re driving along you need to make it obvious to the examiner that you’re constantly making those checks. So every time you accelerate or brake, change direction, negotiate a hazard, start, stop – whatever you do, keep checking those mirrors.
Inappropriate speed (5.1% Fail)
Drive unduly slowly and you’ll fail your test. Break the speed limit and you’ll fail your test. The secret is to know at all times what the speed limit is, and to drive up to the limit if it’s safe to do so. If you drive below the speed limit when it’s safe to go faster, the examiner may assume that you don’t know what the speed limit is. Which won’t work in your favour…
Steering control (4.7% Fail)
Modern cars have power steering so you don’t have to fight to stay on the right course. But you still need to grip the steering wheel firmly, don’t cross your hands, and make sure you’re in full control at all times. That means two hands on the wheel as much as possible, so keep those gear changes brief – and whatever you do, don’t remove both hands from the wheel at the same time. Finally, don’t let the steering wheel self-centre too freely after you’ve turned it – help to feed it back if necessary, so you retain control.
Reversing around a corner (4.3% Fail)
It’s the manoeuvre from Hell. The one that strikes fear into the heart of most learners because you’re at the mercy of other road users. You need to keep track even more than usual of what’s going on all around, while making sure you don’t drive up the kerb or stray miles from it as you turn the corner. The key – as ever – is to put in loads of practice and when it comes to your test, constantly analyse what’s going on in every direction.
Incorrect positioning (4.2% Fail)
You need to position yourself correctly on the road for two main reasons; to get the best view ahead, and to be seen by other road users. There’s also the issue of invading other road users’ space, such as cutting corners when you turn right into a side road. Fail to stick to your side of the road and you could hit something about to emerge from the side road. Also make sure you don’t drive too close to parked cars or cyclists and position yourself correctly on roundabouts – something which catches out many learner drivers.
Moving away safely (4.2% Fail)
Whenever you start off there’s a danger of you pulling into the path of someone. Ensuring you don’t cut anybody up is essential, although poor clutch control and failing to signal can also catch out many test candidates. Bearing in mind this is the first thing you’ll be doing when you set off on your driving test, you’d better make sure you get it spot on every time if you’re not to fail before you’ve even got going.
Use of signals (4.1% Fail)
The learner driver’s mantra is ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’, and getting this process wrong is bound to lead to failure. Make a manoeuvre without first signalling your intention and you can kiss your pass certificate goodbye. It’s not just about signalling though; you need to do it at the right time (not too late, not too early) and once you’ve executed your manoeuvre don’t forget to cancel the indicator if the car hasn’t already done it for you.
Reverse parking (3.7% Fail)
Although it’s parallel parking that scares most new drivers, it’s reversing into a parking bay that’s most likely to lead to driving test failure. Parallel parking is next to the kerb and it’s arguably more complicated than bay parking, but poor observation in either scenario will lead to failure. When bay parking, make sure that you make sure the space is completely clear and that you slot the car evenly into the space between the lines that mark out the bay.
Turn in the road (3.5% Fail)
Although this is a relatively straightforward manoeuvre, you still need to have good clutch control and an excellent awareness of what’s going on around you. The secret is to take things slowly and keep checking all around for approaching road users. Keep it smooth throughout and make sure you don’t bash into any kerbs during the process.