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10 Reasons for Failing the Driving Test

The car driving test changed in December 2017 in England, Scotland, and Wales. The primary aim of the changes was to provide new drivers with improved skills for a lifetime of safe driving.

But, DVSA reports reveal that around 1.6 million learners sat the new driving test in 2018 and more than 50% of them flunked it!

As a consequence, the DVSA also revealed the top ten driving test faults that new drivers made in the first year of the new test [2018].

The list below shows ten of the most common reasons learners failed the driving test since the DVSA made the changes.

But, the reason most learner drivers failed was:

  • Insufficient (a lack of) observation at junctions.
  • Failing to use mirrors ‘effectively’ before changing direction.

So, what advice does the DVSA have for learner drivers? First of all, they urge them to spend more time practising their driving skills and observation techniques.

Using a variety of different roads will also help (e.g. practice driving on country roads and on dual carriageways).

The DVSA also encourage learners to spend more time driving in different road conditions. For example, practice driving when it is raining and try to get familiar with driving during the dark hours.

Note: In fact there is no legal minimum number of lessons needed to learn to drive a car and take the test. It varies from one person to another. But, DVSA suggest it takes around 50 hours of lessons for most learners.

Reasons Learners Fail the Car Test

The list shows the most common mistakes new drivers made when sitting the new driving test between the 4th of December 2017 and the 3rd of December 2018.

  1. Junctions (including roundabouts): 202,139 failed due to poor observation skills.
  2. Use of mirrors (including rear observation): 165,908 failed when changing direction.
  3. Control: 90,030 did not pass because of steering issues.
  4. Junctions: 80,054 flunked the test when turning right.
  5. Move off: 76,745 did not move away in a safe manner.
  6. Response to signs and signals: 75,602 failed to negotiate traffic lights in the proper manner.
  7. Move off: 74,652 had poor control when moving from the edge of the road.
  8. Positioning: 74,420 failed the normal driving section.
  9. Response to signs: 67,309 did not know what the road markings meant.
  10. Reverse park: 65,229 lost control of the vehicle while reversing.

Note: The DVSA produces detailed guidance on what the different markings mean on a driving test report. There are three types of test faults you can make. But, making one of the majors (a serious or dangerous fault) results in automatic failure.

Contributory Factors for Road Accidents

Statistical data (found in the ‘RAS50‘) reveals how driving test faults reflect many of the factors that cause road traffic accidents. In fact, drivers failing to look properly accounted for a staggering 39% of all accidents in Great Britain in 2017.

In simple terms, it means the faults that new drivers make in driving tests reflect the exact same factors which lead to most of the accidents happening on the roads in Britain.

For example, drivers who failed to look ‘properly’ contributed to 35,993 accidents during 2017. It proved to be the most common contributory factor of all accidents.

Advice from the Chief Driving Examiner

Learner drivers and riders must have the skills to drive safely on all types of roads before they sit the test. The purpose of the driving test is to help drivers prepare for a lifetime of safe driving when using the road. Doing so helps to make our roads safer for all users.

Failing to make the proper observations at road junctions is the most common serious or dangerous test fault. So, a crucial part of learning to drive is developing good observation skills combined with the proper use of vehicle mirrors.

How to Avoid Common Driving Faults

Reading the UK Highway Code is essential for all road users. The guidance states the rules that drivers and riders must obey. It also offers advice on avoiding common driving faults, such as:

  • Looking all around before emerging from a junction.
  • Not crossing or joining a road until a gap appears that is large enough for you to do so in a safe manner.
  • Using mirrors frequently so you always know what is behind you (and to each side).
  • How to use mirrors in good time before signalling or changing direction or vehicle speed.
  • Maintaining a steady course while positioning the vehicle correctly in the road.

Interesting Facts about Learner Drivers

The DVSA released even more notable information after a member of the public made a Freedom of Information request about test candidates.

  • It took one particular learner driver 21 attempts to pass the test in one year [2016].
  • One learner failed all nineteen (19) tests that they attempted during 2009, again in 2015, and later in 2017.
  • Data from the DVSA also showed the pass rate for the car driving test was 45.8% for 2018/19. This was the lowest recorded figure since 2008/9 (45.3%).
  • Better news showed that 18,922 learners passed the practical test in 2018/19 with zero faults. That particular statistic is an increase from 18,410 in the previous year.

Note: Any candidate who fails the driving test must wait at least ten (10) working days before they can take another.

The Official DVSA Guide to Driving

For most, dealing with nerves is a normal part of the driving test. But, if you have an ADI car driving instructor they will try to ensure you make the appropriate preparation.

The DVSA Guide to Driving is full of advice to help drivers and riders stay safe on the roads. Remember, the role of a driving examiner is not to catch you out. Their aim is to make sure you can drive your vehicle ‘safely’.

Note: The short video clip [1:42 seconds] is the Official DVSA guide that explains what will happen during the driving test and what it takes to pass it.

Top Ten Reasons Learners Fail New DVSA Driving Test