Top 9 reasons people fail their driving test

We’ve done some research into the biggest reasons that people fail their driving test. So read on if you want to find out what they are…it may just help you out further down the line!

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One of the best ways to prepare you for your driving test is to be aware of the most common reasons people fail their driving test. This may sound fairly obvious but you would be surprised how many people continually make the same mistakes. Obviously, nerves can always play a part in this. However, throughout your learning-to-drive journey, if you can better understand the most frequent driving test mishaps, you’ll be better equipped for facing the examiner.

1. Junctions (observation)

Failing to correctly use mirrors when approaching junctions is up there with the most common reasons people fail their driving test.

When coming to a junction, always, always, always use your mirrors. A trick to make sure that examiners know you are checking your mirrors is to exaggerate your head movements slightly so it is clear what you are doing and that you are undertaking the necessary observational safety precautions.

So to summarise, when approaching a junction, check the flow of the traffic and reduce to the appropriate speed. Make sure you are aware of the vehicles around you and don’t come to a stop over the white lines.

2. Mirrors (changing direction)

It can be difficult to remember when you should be checking your mirrors. A simple rule of thumb to remember, however, is to check whenever you are changing speed or direction. Again, make sure you exaggerate your looking to ensure the examiner knows you are definitely doing the correct mirror checks.

If you ever wonder throughout your test whether you should be checking your mirrors, do it just in case. There is no harm in doing so.

3. Control (steering)

The driving test examiner will be constantly checking that your steering is smooth and that you are in control of the vehicle at all times. Try and avoid letting the steering wheel spin freely when turning, for example.

Never take your hands off the wheel for longer than is necessary. Even at red lights. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

4. Junctions (turning right)

Making mistakes when turning right at the junction is a very common reason for people failing their driving test.

The things to remember are: Position your vehicle towards the centre line, maintain your observations and mirror checks, reduce speed to 5mph or less, keep up good clutch control, and finally time your turn/exit very carefully. Don’t cut anyone up! Be patient. With all of this to remember, it is hardly surprising that so many people fail their test when turning right at a junction.

5. Moving off safely

This is an easy one, especially if the driving test nerves have kicked in. However, it is equally as easy to prevent. To move off safely, it is simple: Do all of the necessary checks and do them again if needs be. Check all mirrors, check over your shoulder and other blind spots. Find the sweet spot with the clutch until you are 100% happy and drive away when you are ready.

You will need to be able to demonstrate that you can pull away safely in various situations, even hill starts. So be prepared!

For more information on how to master your clutch control for moving off safely in your driving test, give our blog a read here.

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6. Responding to traffic light signals

During your driving test, always be alert to what is going on around you. Don’t switch off. Be ready to move accordingly to traffic lights changing. It may seem simple but this is still a very common reason for people failing their test.

7. Control when reverse parking

Reverse parking is something that continually catches learner drivers out. Thankfully, it is pretty easy to practice and something that you can easily do without your driving instructor when practicing with family outside of lessons. Remember, though, keep up all of your checks and observations! Always be aware of what is going on around you.

8. Responding to traffic signs

Regardless of whether the traffic sign is a temporary one put up by construction workers for “road works” or permanent ones, they are all there for a reason and they must be obeyed. The driving examiner will want to see that you are correctly responding to road signs. So make sure you are confident about what they all mean! Keep your eyes peeled and read the road ahead of you.

9. Otimo’s tip

If your instructor has allowed you to book your test, they think you are ready. We know that nerves often create a lot of the mistakes in driving tests so we recommend that you go out for an hour or two with your instructor prior to your test. Get some of the mistakes out of your system and correct them before your examiner gets in the car.

For more information on the most common mistakes that people make during their driving test, here is a .gov page.


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