Ten Reasons for Failing a Driving Test

failing a driving test

People who are learning to drive often ask about what would be a serious fault on a test. Well who better than the DVSA (the people who conduct them), to tell us about the top ten reasons for failing a driving test. And here they are…

1. Not taking effective observation at junctions

This covers a number of faults, but the most common is in failing to judge the speed of an approaching vehicle correctly. When emerging at a junction you should not cause another driver to brake or change position to avoid you.

It could also be not looking at all; for instance driving straight through a crossroads with no check either side.

A serious fault could be marked where you repeatedly look in only one direction, or take observation which is too late to be of any real value.

2.  Not using mirrors effectively when changing direction

This could be simply not using mirrors before changing direction; or changing direction when it’s not safe to do so. Changing lanes with someone alongside or about to come past you is a definite no-no.

3. Moving off unsafely

Failing a driving test can be the result of a combination of faults such as repeatedly missing blind spot checks before moving away from the kerb.

More often though a serious fault is marked when an approaching driver (ahead or behind) is caused to brake when you set off at the wrong time.

4. Incorrect position when turning right

Turning right from the left-hand lane of a roundabout or one-way street are common faults. It may also be marked where you obstruct traffic on your left by not being far enough to the right at a junction.

5. Control of steering

Hitting and mounting kerbs is always something to avoid and a good reason for failing a driving test.

Steering faults are also marked due to late steering; such as when moving out to pass an obstruction.

Repeated faults such as swinging wide on bends and when turning left are also common.

6. Reacting incorrectly to traffic lights

A very late reaction (braking heavily or overshooting the stop line), or driving through a red light would be a serious fault.

Failing to move when safe at a green light may be serious; often when novices think that they have to wait for a filter light to come on. But it could also be moving forward at a green light when it’s not clear ahead if this results in you blocking the junction.

7. Not reacting correctly to traffic signs

The most common thing is failing to come to a complete halt at a ‘stop sign; or trying to go through a no-entry sign.

Driving along an operational bus lane is also a frequent failure or going the wrong side of a keep-left  sign.

You could also fall foul of a positive result if you don’t react to a change in speed limit sign before you pass it.

Using the wrong lane when signs clearly show where you should be is also a common fault.

8. Incorrect normal driving position

Needlessly driving in the right-hand land of a dual-carriageway is the most common error here. But it could be driving needlessly wide on any road if it interferes with oncoming traffic.

This is also marked if you drive straight across both sides of a roundabout when going ahead where there are no lanes marked.

9. Incorrect response to road markings

A frequent fault which often results in failing a driving test is when test candidates ignore lane arrows and go in a different direction.

Blocking a yellow box junction also regularly features here; as is crossing double white lines in the road centre when the one on your side is solid.

10. Control of the reverse park exercise.

This is probably the only manoeuvre that people regularly fail on since the turn in the road, and left-hand reverse where taken out of the test in 2017.

Common faults are mounting the kerb; or just taking too many shunts in order to complete the exercise.

For much more information about the driving test and how faults are marked and assessed, read The Driving Test & How to Pass – the authoritative guide from UK Driving Skills.

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