During the year 2016 to 2017 the official DVSA figures show that the learner test pass rate was 47.1%.
That's actually quite a good pass rate, although I'm sure it could be better. Over the last 10 years I've seen it down to not much above 40%.
Your job on test can be summed up as "Make no serious errors. Make no dangerous errors. Make as few minor driving errors as you can".
If you stick to that rule and achieve it, it's extremely likely that you'll pass. If you end the test with no errors at all and you still have a clean sheet, then you'll join the 17950 learners who did just that over this time period.
Well done to them and well done to their instructors. They clearly learned well and put in the work, but their instructors clearly showed them what needed to be done, identified all areas for improvement and encouraged them to become good drivers. That's fantastic!
Incidentally, that's by far the highest number of clean sheet passes for over a decade, which blows the myths about examiners wanting to fail people out of the water.
That's the good news, now back to reality. Do you know the common mistakes on driving tests that you really must avoid? Read on . . .
Can you guess what this list represents? Go on, take a look at the list and have a think about it before you read on:
- Junctions (observation)
- Mirrors – (change direction)
- Control (steering)
- Junctions (turning right)
- Move off (safely)
- Positioning (normal driving)
- Move off (control)
- Response to signals (traffic lights)
- Reverse park (control)
- Response to signals (Traffic Signs)
This list is the DVSA's official list of the top 10 reasons people failed their driving test over the period of 2016 to 2017.
If you look closely at the list and really dig deep, you just may conclude that each and every item on the list comes down to just 2 things: Observation and Control.
That makes sense, because in driving the fundamental task is to observe the situation around you and then to take some form of action using the controls of the vehicle. In a nutshell, that's driving.
Well, OK, it's more involved but it really does sum up very concisely what you need to do as a driver.
Make sure you can take and keep control, make sure you do full and effective observations all around (and to the rear) constantly, and you'll pass your test.
Let's take a closer look at the list.
DVSA Top 10 List Of Driving Test Fails
This list is direct from the DVSA. It's been compiled by taking the figures from all Driving Test Centres across the UK for an entire 12 month period and it shows the main reasons that learners failed to pass their driving test.
I won't copy all the lists here, but the remarkably fact is that not much has changed over the last 15 years. The very same exercises and scenarios crop up over and over again. It's like a list of the usual suspects!
Not taking proper observation is usually caused by driving too quickly so you don't have time to look around properly. Dig even deeper and driving too quickly is caused by a fear of having to control the car at low speeds or to stop and then move off again. You simply must get rid of this fear and practice driving at slow speeds. If you want a reason why, it's at the top of the list.
Mirrors – (change direction)
I can't stress enough how important MSM is. Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors, before you do anything. Missing a mirror check may be regarded as a minor driving fault but continually not using them amounts to a serious or dangerous, which means no test pass. Mirror checks are simply observation faults. The reason we use mirrors is to see what's behind us (observation) and to react to it (control)
Yes, it sounds unbelievable, but many learners fail through faults with steering. I'd question whether they were ever ready to go for the test in the first place, surely their instructor must have known about this? Mounting the kerb, cutting corners, weaving about on a straight road, losing control of the steering wheel. It could go on, but this is on the top 10 list. If you have any difficulty, it may help to use reference points. Speak to your instructor about this.
Junctions (turning right)
Corner cutting (control), going too fast (control) not seeing the danger (observation). Again, the list could go on but there's no need. I think I've mentioned above (have I?) that you must take and keep control and you must take effective observations. Simple, really.
Move off (safely)
How many times do learners and instructors need to be told that moving off is a critical exercise on test? How many times will I get learners who've been with other instructors who have no idea how to move off safely? It drives me nuts, because it's easy once you practice it but it'll fail your test for you if you don't. Moving off without knowing it's safe (observation) is a major cause of driving test failure and causes more collisions than people would ever believe. Learn how to move off safely. Practice a routine, know it thoroughly because you really need to be able to do this.
Positioning (normal driving)
This can be a fault with observation, control, or a combination of the two. If you drive too close to a hazard such as a parked car, the examiner will wonder whether or not you've actually seen it. Every time the examiner sees a hazard ahead they are looking for your reaction, and your reaction is ALWAYS Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre. Common faults with road positioning are straddling the lines in a dual carriageway (control), weaving about on a roundabout or straddling lanes (control), driving too close the kerb (control), driving too close to the opposite side (control) and failing to stop properly at junctions or stop lines. A common one with these last two is to overshoot the white lines. Learn how to use reference points if you have any issues with any aspect of positioning, it just may help you.
Move off (control)
Well, well. Moving Off makes it onto the top 10 list. Twice! This time it's for control. Time and time again I've stressed to instructors on Part 3 training and in preparation for their standards check that moving off is critical. Common serious faults (control) are signalling unsafely, moving off to quickly and not under full control, rolling backwards, not selecting 1st gear (3rd is common, oops!) and leaving the handbrake on. You should have a routine for moving off and practice it until it becomes instinctive. The stress of a driving test is not the place to discover that you haven't done enough practice.
Response to signals (traffic lights)
Advanced Driving course, a phrase you'll hear over and over again is "planning to stop but looking to go"Usually an observation and anticipation fault. You can't anticipate a hazard you don't see, so get to learn how to take effective observations throughout your driving. When you see the lights you must react by using MSM. Always be prepared to stop. You should actually plan to stop and only proceed if you know it's safe. So many times learners and trainee instructors do it the other way around, desperate to keep moving then panicking to stop when the lights change. If ever you're lucky enough to do the full Police
Reverse park (control)
Learners are often very fearful of this exercise. It's also widely misunderstood. If you make a minor error with steering or accuracy (control) you can correct it. Yes, you'll probably collect a tick in the box for a minor driving error, but that's not the end of the world. Serious or dangerous faults here are repeatedly having to correct yourself, mounting the kerb or any serious loss of control of the car.
Response to signals (Traffic Signs)
Again, an error that comes down to observation and control. You need to see the sign and take any action needed. Typical serious errors are failing to adhere to the rules associated with one way signs, attempting to turn where it's forbidden, or failing to respond properly to signs on the road surface.
Understanding the DVSA's own top 10 list is very instructive. All these errors boil down to control or observation or a combination of both of them. In my experience, way at the top of the list is a lack of control at slow speeds. If you or your learners don't have this critical skill it leads inevitably to problems with control and a lack of effective observations, simply because there's no time to do them if the car is moving too fast.