Top 10 reasons to fail a driving test

Lesson Type
Last updated: 4 Nov 2019

One of the best ways to ensure that you pass your driving test is to understand the most common reasons to fail a driving test. Sounds sensible, right? But you’d be amazed at how many learners trip up on the same things.

We’ve researched the most common reasons to fail a driving test. When you're next out in the car, pay particular attention to these areas so you can avoid making the same mistakes come test day.

The most common reasons to fail a driving test

Junctions (observation)

Failing to correctly use your mirrors when approaching junctions is one of the most common reasons to fail a driving test.

When you approach a junction be sure to use your mirrors, take note of the flow of traffic and slow to an appropriate speed. Also be sure to observe other vehicles and the road around you while ensuring that you don’t come to a stop over the white line. Visit our guide to junctions for more information.

Mirrors (change direction)

It’s easy to forget when you should check your mirrors, but we’ve got a simple trick to help you remember. If you are changing speed or direction or moving off in the vehicle, check your mirrors. The most common mistake it to forget to check them when you're changing direction... but as a general rule, if you’re unsure if you should be checking your mirrors, check them just in case. If you’re still not 100% clear on when or how to use your mirrors, visit our guide to mirrors - and ask your instructor!

Control (steering)

The driving examiner will be checking that steering is smooth, safe and under control. You won't fail your driving test for crossing your hands while steering, but you will fail if the examiner doesn't think you're in control. So, avoid letting the wheel spin freely, and try not to take your hands off the wheel for longer than is necessary. It's always better to be safe than sorry!

Junctions (turning right)

Slipping up on turning right at a junction is consistently one of the top 10 reasons to fail your test. You need to remember to position your vehicle towards the centre line, keep up your observations, slow right down (5 mph or less), maintain good clutch control and time your exit carefully. With so much to remember, it’s no wonder that this is one of the most common reasons to fail a driving test. For extra help with junctions, read our article on turning left and right.

Move off (safely)

Remember, to move off safely, you need to make sure you don't create a hazard for other road users. That means avoiding making others change speed or direction. So, your observations are extremely important! Make sure you check your mirrors and your blind spot carefully. And take a look at our article on moving away safely.

Positioning (normal driving)

You'd have thought that lane discipline would be the hardest part of getting your positioning right, but apparently it's positioning during normal driving that's most likely to trip learners up on test day. A few things things to avoid are driving too close to the left hand kerb, driving too far out towards the middle of the road, and leaving too little space when passing parked cars.

Move off (control)

When moving off, you need to make sure you’re in complete control of the vehicle. Stalling is the bane of many a learner driver's life, so practise your clutch control until you're 100% confident, to avoid stalling or accelerating too quickly. You'll need to be able to demonstrate to the examiner that you’re able to pull away safely in many different situations. That could even include hill starts!

Response to signals (traffic lights)

You'd think that responding to traffic lights would be relatively simple but sadly, that's not the case. Make sure that you're alert and ready to respond to traffic lights in good time during your driving test. Sometimes it's the things you think you know that end up tripping you up!

Reverse park (control)

Reverse parking catches out quite a few learner drivers, but luckily it's easy to practise and it's a predictable part of the driving test. So, get plenty of practice and don't forget your observations! For help with reverse parking and all the other manoeuvres, visit our YouTube channel.

Response to signals (traffic Signs)

Whether it's a temporary "Road works" sign or a "Priority over oncoming vehicles" sign, they're all there for a reason! The driving examiner will want to see that you're picking up and responding to the instructions around you, so keep your eyes peeled and read the road ahead of you.

Top tip

If your instructor has let you book your driving test, it means they think you're ready! Any mistakes you make are likely to be caused by nerves, so we'd recommend taking a driving lesson an hour before your driving test. That will give you a valuable chance to get comfy behind the wheel and calm those nerves.

Source: DVSA car driving test information.

Image courtesy of dsagovuk at Flickr via Crown Copyright.