Common mistakes made on driving tests

Common Mistakes on a Driving Test

It’s normal to feel nervous on your driving test. Even the most capable and confident person can feel on edge when they have someone watching their every move and looking for mistakes. But, it’s important to remember, your driving examiner isn’t looking to fail you – they want the best for you, and want to make sure you have the right skills to keep yourself – and other road users – safe once you pass your test.

Little mistakes are normal, and this is why you can have 15 minor faults during your practical driving test and still pass. However, one major fault will mean maybe you’re not quite ready, and you’ll have to take the test again – as major faults are usually ones that result in potentially dangerous situations.

But there’s some mistakes we see happen time and time again. These happen for several reasons – concentrating too hard on one area and forgetting another, lower observation, accuracy that’s slightly off, or just being slightly careless. So here are some common mistakes that are made on driving tests – and how you can avoid them.

1. Moving off

Getting started is always important. When you move off – whether on a level or sloped surface – you need to show you’re in control of the car and can move off safely. Make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, use your mirrors and check your blind spot before you set off. Stalling your car isn’t the end of the world and cause an instant fail, so if you do stall, don’t let it get to you – take your time and try again.

2. Mirrors

Your mirrors are your extra eyes on the road, so make sure you use them. Whether you’re moving off, turning, overtaking, changing lanes, or slowing down – your mirrors are vital in letting you do it safely and making sure you know other road users have time to react. They also help you keep an eye on what’s going on around you, so you can adapt if there’s any potential hazards around you.

3. Steering

Steering and road positioning go hand-in-hand. You need to show you’re in control of your car. This means keeping a steady positioning that follows the road and stays in your lane. You should make minor adjustments to your steering when necessary to keep your car on track, follow the kerb but be sure not to veer to close.

4. Indicators

Other road users, cyclists, and pedestrians aren’t mind readers – they need you to let them know what you’re planning. Whether it’s to pull out your vehicle, change lanes, make a turn, change your road position to pass obstructions in your path, or anything else – you need to use your indicators correctly and in plenty of time. use indicators correctly and in plenty of time. It normally takes 3-5 flashes of the indicator to get another road user’s attention. So signal early taking this into account. Remember to use indicators – and cancel them when you no longer need them – and this will ensure you avoid giving misleading signals.

5. Speed

We all know you can be penalised for going over the speed limit, but driving too slowly can also cause problems and even be dangerous too. Keep an eye on your speedometer and make sure it’s an appropriate speed for the road you’re on and the prevailing conditions. The weather conditions may also affect your speed – it’s okay to drive slower in very wet weather, fog, or ice/snow in order to keep control of your car. But if you don’t feel confident driving at the speed limit in typical driving conditions, you may not be quite ready to be taking a test.

6. Stop signs

You’d be surprised at the amount of people who fail to stop at a Stop sign. These signs don’t mean slow down and crawl out; you are expected to come to a complete stop. This is because you won’t be able to have a full enough view of the road to safely pull out until you are at the stop line and can then look. So fully stop your vehicle, look both ways, and then pull out if it’s safe too.

7. Roundabouts and Junctions

Observation and decisiveness are key when it comes to navigating roundabouts and pulling out of junctions. For roundabouts, you should keep an eye on the vehicles coming from your right and make sure you have enough time to pull out safely – while also making sure there’s no stopped traffic where you want to go. At junctions, you need to look out for vehicles from both directions – and pedestrians possibly crossing – and make sure your vehicle doesn’t cut the corner. For both roundabouts and junctions you need to observe speed and distance of oncoming traffic and confidently pull out when there is a safe opportunity.

8. Reverse parking

When you reverse park, it’s always a bit tricky as you’re obviously going the opposite way to what you’re facing. You need to keep a close eye on all your blind spots and your mirrors all the while. It’s more than just turning your head – have a real awareness of what’s going on all around you and keep checking all the different areas as you slowly move. The situation can change rapidly, especially if for instance, a cyclist quickly enters the scene. Many cars are now fitted with reversing cameras. You can use these, but not exclusively. They should be used purely as an extra mirror only. Find out more on how to reverse park in our previous blog here.

9. Lane Discipline

Make sure you choose one lane only, and avoid straddling lanes. It’s important not to drift or impede on other road users in lanes beside you. 

When you are unfamiliar with the road layout it’s very easy to find yourself in the ‘wrong’ lane for your ultimate destination. If you are in the wrong lane just follow the lane even if it does not take you to your original planned destination. You will not fail or be marked down for going somewhere else – as long as you haven’t committed any driving faults – as the examiner or sat-nav will redirect you from that point to get you back on course. Going the wrong way is NOT a driving fault.

The worst thing that you can do is to attempt to ‘correct’ yourself by changing lanes at the last moment in an attempt to follow your original path. This will just confuse other road users and could cause them to take evasive action as they will have predicted that you follow the destination for the lane that you have chosen.

Hopefully none of this sounds too daunting to you. Our aim is to always make sure you’re fully prepared and comfortable driving safely in a car before you take your driving test. This will mean that you know how to handle any situation you find yourself in when driving and you can demonstrate how safely you can handle your vehicle and roads while out on your test. 

If you have any other questions on what to expect on your driving test, you can get in touch with us by emailing or you can send us a message via the Acclaim Facebook page too. 

Learner drivers and new drivers can enjoy the flexibility of paying for insurance by the mile and earn a £10 voucher* with Pay As You Go Insurance from Marmalade.
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