It’s been a quiet few months for driving exams, but since the 22nd of July (in England) learners have been able to get back behind the wheel and put their skills to the test once more. Driving tests were suspended from the 20th of March, with emergency exceptions being made only for key workers. The lack of lessons and tests has left many new drivers feeling out of practice, and perhaps more nervous than ever to face their exam, but hopefully, we will see the upward trajectory of pass rates continue as more learners face the music over the coming months.
According to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) the pass rate of practical driving tests was 45.9 per cent during 2019/20 — a 0.1 per cent increase from the pass rate the year before. However, there are still countless classic mistakes that new drivers fall into the trap of. Since the new driving test changes that were implemented on the 4th of December 2017, the DVLA has highlighted certain problem areas that always seem to trip up those taking their exam. The top reasons for failing your driving test may not be what you expect, so read on to find out which faults are most likely to trip you up. If you’re planning on getting back in the driver’s seat and taking your test soon, be sure to get your head around these common mistakes and head into the exam feeling confident!
1. Junctions – observation.
Proper observation is key to a successful driving test and a safe driving career going forward. According to the DVLA, 39 per cent of all accidents in Great Britain in 2017 were caused by a driver failing to look properly. This was the most common contributory factor, with failure to properly observe contributing to 35,993 accidents in that year.
The stakes are high, so it’s no wonder that your driving examiner will be closely watching for your every observation and check, especially when approaching a junction. To avoid making this mistake, approach each junction or roundabout at a safe speed, and be confident that you can judge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic. You need to make sure that your observations are just as strong in challenging weather conditions and poor light, as well as being watchful of other vehicles, including bikes and motorbikes.
2. Mirrors – change direction.
Not checking your mirror before changing direction, overtaking, or changing lanes was found to be the second most common driving test mistake. Mirror checks are absolutely crucial and should become a compulsive habit when driving.
Before changing direction, moving off, slowing down, turning, or overtaking, you must check your mirrors and make sure that other road users are aware of your intentions and have time to react. Avoid making this classic mistake on your test by ensuring that you check your rear-view and appropriate side-view mirror every time you are ready to alter your direction.
3. Control – steering.
The key to avoiding failing your test due to a steering fault is about making sure you always stay in your lane and retain full control over the car — regardless of the weather conditions. The best way to do this is by making sure you follow the kerb, but never veer too close to it, knock, or mount it —this will be marked as a major fault in your test and result in an automatic fail.
4. Junctions – turning right.
Turning right at a junction can be a particularly nerve-racking manoeuvre for many learner drivers. As well as observing the speed and distance of the oncoming traffic and judging your timing perfectly, you will also need to master the turn itself and position your vehicle so that it doesn’t cut the corner.
This manoeuvre can be particularly dangerous, so be sure to stay vigilant and only take the turn when you are fully confident.
5. Move off – safely.
In order to pass your test, you need to prove to the examiner that you can move off safely, on both level and sloped services. A single stall won’t result in instant failure, but you’ll certainly be in trouble if you stall regularly. In order to avoid this mistake, make sure that you’re in first gear, gently put pressure on the accelerator and lift pressure from the clutch until you find the bite, slowly release the handbrake while putting more pressure on the accelerator, then gradually lift all pressure from the clutch as you keep your right foot steady on the accelerator.
You may feel a bit out of practice after lockdown, but you’re sure to get the hang of it again in no time. As well as taking up your driving lessons again, it is worth investing in some short-term learner driver insurance to build up your confidence again and enable you to make up for lost practice time.