The Most Common Reasons People Fail Their Driving Test

Taking your driving test can be a daunting experience and these are the most common reasons why people fail.

Not making effective observations at junctions

This is one of the more challenging - and dangerous - parts of driving and in a test environment, it can be easy to miss, with the pressure you're under and trying to get through everything as quickly as possible.

Cars can be coming from all angles, at different speeds and so it's critical to be paying complete attention to the road and what's around you before safely proceeding on the next part of your test.

The best thing to think about in this instance is you are in no rush and everyone else is a dangerous driver. That way, you should be able to safely judge in your own time when you think is best to make that turn. 

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Not using mirrors correctly when changing direction

It's easy to do as you are so focused on what is in front of you, but ensuring you check your rear-view and side mirrors before changing direction, slowing down, and setting off will give you that certainty that what you are about to do next is safe.

In a test environment it may not be clear to the examiner that you are checking your mirrors if you just use your eyes, so try to move your head a little to indicate that you are taking that split second to check and make sure your surroundings are clear.

Not having proper control of the steering

Maintaining the correct hand positions when driving will indicate that you are able to comfortably control the car, reducing the chances of hitting other vehicles or mounting the kerb.

The traditional way to remember this is by picturing the steering wheel as a clock face and keeping your hands at the '10 and 2' and '9 and 3' positions, as they allow you to pull the wheel to either side with one hand, allowing the other to slide and meet it.

It is discouraged to cross your arms when steering as that could indicate you're not in full control, and removing your hands when turning is a definite no-no unless you want to have an accident.


Incorrect positioning when turning right at junctions

It's the old junctions again and they can be a real nightmare, especially when turning right and having to pull out and go across the other side of the road if there is poor visibility.

Always try to drive normally and keep as close to the centre of the lane. When you do want to make that right turn, position your car to the right of the lane as this allows cars behind you to know what you want to do and pass safely on your left.

Not moving off safely

When you're stationary, it's important to know your surroundings before moving off to avoid impeding - or hitting - other road users.

It's not good enough to use just your mirrors, you should check your blind spot which is behind your right shoulder. 

It's worth noting that it could also be behind your left depending on the manoeuvre you are undertaking, and anything else that could be blocking your line of vision in your left or rear-view mirror.

Not responding appropriately to traffic lights

It's all about concentration, and when it comes to the red light, preempting if it is about to turn from green to red.

If you are approaching traffic lights that have been green for a while, you should be prepared to slow down and stop as they could turn to amber and then red at any moment.

Driving through a red light is illegal and is an instant fail on your test, and something that can easily be avoided if you keep your wits about you.

The same can be said about waiting too long at a green light. If the lights tell you to go and you take too long to move off, your examiner could deem that as having a lack of concentration which on the roads can be fatal, especially if other road users aren't paying attention themselves.


Poor positioning on the road during normal driving

Keeping central in your lane is the ideal position you want to stay in while travelling if it is safe to do so.

Being too close to the kerb or the other side of the road puts yourself and others in danger.

Roundabouts are particularly important to judge and you should always follow the lines of the roundabout to ensure you remain in the same lane and aren't cutting across others.

Not following road signs correctly

There are so many road signs to remember and oftentimes you will not completely understand what one fully means. But ignoring them altogether can be a criminal offence depending on what sign it was, or could put other road users at risk.

Speed limits are the most common to miss or disobey, so be alert when travelling, especially on roads that you aren't familiar with. 

Not having control of the vehicle when moving off

Even the most experienced of drivers will stall their car from time to time, it can be caused by a slip of the clutch at any moment. 

In a test environment, if you were to stall your car that would be fine, providing you recover it well and still show you are firmly in control of the vehicle.

If on a hill start, for example, you stall it and then the car began rolling backwards, that would be a major fail because of the danger it could cause to those around you.

Keeping cool and calm will help you in situations when you stall if you allow yourself to become stressed out, that's when you're likely to make more mistakes.

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Not keeping control of the vehicle during reverse parking

In a driving test, you will be given one of four manoeuvres to undertake. They are parallel parking, reverse bay parking, and forward bay parking before reversing out and driving back the way you came, and pulling up on the right side of the road and reversing backwards.

They can fixate in your mind and defeat you before you even get into the driver's seat, so it's important to remain calm and practice them with your instructor until you are 100% confident with them.

The ways you may fail in your test are if you hit the kerb when reversing, take too long to make the manoeuvre, or don't pay enough attention to your surroundings when making the manoeuvre.

These things come with practice and if you keep at them, you will soon become a pro.

We've gathered together all the frequently asked questions new drivers ask after passing their test.


How many driving faults do you get before you fail your driving test?

You can fail your driving test by committing too many driving faults or minors. You are allowed up to 15 minors on your test but anymore than that and it's a fail.

How can I impress my driving test examiner?

You should be confident but always err on the side of caution if you're not 100% sure on something. You should also try and stick to what you've been taught and don't let other road users influence your driving ability.