Tips from driving examiners: dress for comfort!

Mark Twain supposedly once said ‘clothes make the man’, meaning that people are judged by their appearance. Now, old Mark was a wise man, but he’s wrong when it comes to your driving test.Before I became a driving examiner with DVSA, I was a driving instructor and I remember one of my students who always wanted to drive dangerously fast. His idea of normal driving speeds was way in excess of what was safe or legal, and this was particularly scary given his limited driving experience.This young man – let’s call him Adam – also used to dress really scruffily. Now I’m the last person to criticise anybody’s dress sense. If there were a condition similar to colour-blindness called ‘dress-sense-blindness’, then I’d be diagnosed with a chronic case. I was once told that I could make even the smartest suit look like an old sack.Anyway, we managed to get Adam’s fast driving tendencies under control and he became a pretty good driver. On the day of his test he was offered two pieces of advice – one from his Mum and one from me:

  • (From Mum) Don’t wear your torn jeans for your driving test!
  • Remember, a good impression goes a long way.
  • (From me) Remember to slow down!

Adam only took my advice and he still passed.You don’t have to impress us visually and you don’t have to impress us verbally. We assess you on your driving alone. Let’s suppose that you’ve learned to drive wearing your jeans, T-shirt and trainers. If, for your driving test, you decided to wear a suit and tie with your best shoes (without even a dress rehearsal), then you could feel restricted.The examiner’s job, as far as meeting different types of people is concerned, is quite an interesting one. It would make life far less interesting for us if every test candidate dressed as if they were going for a job interview. If you turned up for your driving test in your pyjamas or even in fancy dress, no examiner would assess you on anything other than your driving. Anybody who can drive well, no matter how they’re dressed, is good enough for us. So, look after yourself and dress comfortably. For example:

  • shoes – make sure they’re comfortable and you’ve driven in them before. You need to know that they won’t fall off, rub your feet or make operating the pedals difficult
  • sleeves – if you have long sleeves, make sure they don’t drape over your hands so you constantly need to pull them up your arms
  • hair – if it’s long, make sure that it doesn’t hang in your eyes. Tie it back if you need to.

In short, dress for your comfort, and not to impress us. And if, like Adam, you’re most comfortable in your torn jeans, wear them!