Top 10 Reasons People Fail The British Driving Test

We look at the top 10 reasons that people fail their driving test. If you've passed your test, have your fallen into any of these bad habits? Here they no particular order...

1. Observations at junctions

Poor observations at junctions is one of the top 10 reasons that people fail.

You’ll be marked with this fault for not taking effective observation before emerging at junctions, and emerging into the path of other vehicles. Always make sure it’s safe before proceeding.

(Oh, and don’t wolf-whistle - it’s really not cool).


2. Moving off safely

Moving off safely makes it into our top 10.

When you’re moving off from the side of the road, you need to make sure you look around, check your blind spots - and that you’re indicating the right way!

3. Use of mirrors

Well OK, people don’t sit combing their hair on their driving test, but not using mirrors properly is one of the top 10 reasons people fail.

Remember that you need to use your rear view mirror and wing mirrors - and react to the information! People get caught out for pulling up with no mirror checks, increasing their speed with no mirror checks, or using their mirrors too late.

4. Reverse parking

The next reason is reverse parking.

In the driving test, you can be asked to either do a parallel park on the road, or reverse into a parking bay at the test centre.

You’ll notch up a fault in this area if you need to reposition to correct a loss of control or accuracy. A complete misjudgement or significant loss of control will count as a serious fault.

5. Response to traffic lights

Giving the right response to traffic lights is something that catches people out. Some of the mistakes that people make include waiting at a green filter light when it’s safe to proceed and staying at the stop line when it’s safe to move. Other faults that count include not conforming to a red light, and stopping beyond an advanced stop line in the area designated for cyclists.

6. Steering

Believe it or not, steering makes it into our top 10.

You need to be able to maintain a steady course in normal driving. Things like mounting and dismounting the kerb, and not following the contour of the kerb results in faults in this area.

7. Positioning

Well that might be a very extreme example, but positioning is really important.

Your vehicle should be positioned correctly for the route you’re taking. If lanes are marked, make sure you’re in the middle of the lane. Avoid straddling lanes.

8. Turning right at junctions

Turning right at junctions makes it onto our list.

When you’re turning right, position your vehicle correctly - it shouldn’t cut the corner when turning right. Also, watch out for cyclists and motorcyclists, and any pedestrians crossing the road.

9. Control when moving off

Control when moving off

Is this the one everyone dreads doing?

Repeated stalling is one of the things that counts as control when moving off. Other things that are included in this reason are moving off (or trying to!) with the handbrake on, rolling backwards when trying to move off - and not putting the car in gear and attempting to move off.

10. Response to road markings

And finally… look out for road markings.

You’ll be marked with faults in this area for doing things like unnecessarily crossing the solid white centre lines on the road, and not following directional arrows. Stopping in a yellow box junction when the exit is not clear also counts for this reason. So make sure you know the rules about using them.

Prepare to pass

It’s normal to be nervous before your test, but if you’re properly prepared and your instructor thinks you’re ready, then there’s really no reason to worry. On average, people who pass the test have had 45 hours of driving lessons and 22 hours of private practice. Your examiner’s not trying to catch you out; they just want to make sure that you can drive safely.

For more information on how to prepare for your practical driving test, head over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up copies of The Official DVSA Guide to Learning to Drive, the Prepare for your Practical Driving Test DVD and The Official DVSA Guide to Driving - the essential skills