Right Driver

Pass your driving test by avoiding these mistakes

Driving tests can be nerve-wracking as there are plenty of ways in which the testing officer can fail you. Some errors are minor and will have no impact unless you repeatedly do them (you can accumulate up to 15 minors of different types and still pass, but only a few of the same one), while others are major errors that result in an immediate fail.

Major errors are classed as:

  • Dangerous fault – one that causes actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property
  • Serious fault – something that is potentially dangerous
  • Driving fault – it’s not necessarily dangerous as a one-off in the circumstances you did it, but if you repeatedly do it, it could be a dangerous or serious fault

In the case of a dangerous or serious fault, you will still complete your test and you won’t find out until the end whether you have passed or failed. Both minor and major errors result from not following the road rules. The ten most common reasons for failure in each year are listed by DVSA here. A huge number of people fail before they even start through turning up late, not having enough fuel, having a car which isn’t roadworthy or forgetting their licence.

Before you take your practical driving test, check through this list so that you have the best chance of passing your test.


  • Incorrect gap selection (i.e. pulling out in front of someone causing them to swerve or brake, or not going when there is more than enough time)
  • Failing to give way to pedestrians and cyclists who have priority.
  • Incorrect indication (e.g. no indication or indicating incorrectly on a roundabout)
  • Being in the wrong lane based on instructions given
  • Failing to give way to other vehicles
  • Cutting the corner on a right-hand junctions
  • Blocking a junction, railway level crossing or pedestrian crossing
  • Stopping across a driveway when instructed to pull over


  • Unable to keep the vehicle in the lane (i.e. drifts over the line)
  • Makes contact with a kerb or other object while driving or manoeuvring
  • Demonstrates erratic steering, e.g. jerky movements, taking corners too wide or cutting corners
  • Skidding or wheelspin
  • Unable to maintain an appropriate speed (e.g. holding other road users up unduly by driving too far below the speed limit)
  • Tailgating a driver ahead of you

Signalling and observation

  • Failing to use your indicators when moving away from the kerb, changing lanes, using a roundabout, turning into or out of a side road (whether on a one-way street or not), pulling over to the kerb or leaving/entering a parking space.
  • Failure to do observation checks, i.e. looking over your shoulder/head checks, using your mirrors, checking your blind spots

Disobeying traffic signs, signals and road markings

  • Not stopping at all at stop signs or red traffic lights
  • Stopping in an inappropriate or incorrect place at a stop sign or red light (e.g. over the line or encroaching into a cycle lane)
  • Not going when safe when a light is green
  • Crossing painted lines where it is not permitted
  • Performing a manoeuvre where it’s not permitted by a regulatory sign, e.g. keep left, no u-turn, etc.
  • Driving in a lane where it’s not permitted (e.g. a bus lane)


This only applies where it is your fault:

  • Hitting another vehicle, whether it’s stationary or moving
  • Running into a kerb at speed, i.e. anything more than a light touch while manoeuvring
  • Mounting a kerb
  • Contact with a traffic island or street furniture (note: tall vehicles should be aware of road camber and how it can cause the top of the vehicle to contact shop canopies, trees and lamp posts
  • Having a preventable accident (this includes accidents where you might be partially at fault)

Illegal and/or dangerous acts

  • Using a mobile phone
  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Stopping on a pedestrian crossing
  • Failing to keep left when required
  • Turning from an incorrect lane, e.g. turning right from the left lane on a roundabout
  • Going straight ahead in a lane with a turn-only arrow and vice versa
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Not giving way to an emergency vehicle
  • Ignoring directions from a person controlling traffic (e.g. a police officer, armed forces, pilot vehicle or road worker)
  • Brake-testing a driver following too closely
  • You try to bribe the testing officer

Failure to complete any part of the test

  • Refusal to follow the testing officer’s instructions
  • Inability to complete a manoeuvre such as a parallel park
  • Receiving external help during the test

Vehicle doesn’t comply with requirements

  • No MOT or is not roadworthy (having an MOT doesn’t mean the vehicle is roadworthy, it means that it was deemed roadworthy on the day it was tested)
  • Windscreen has a serious crack
  • Not enough fuel or fluids
  • Isn’t suitable for the type of licence you’re sitting
  • The vehicle breaks down
  • Dual controls are not operational if installed
  • Vehicle is a convertible with no roof available and the weather is bad, e.g. rain


  • The testing officer considers that you are too ill to complete the test safely
  • You are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Weather conditions are too challenging to be safe (e.g. heavy snow)
  • You verbally abuse or are intimidating to the testing officer
  • Sexual advances or emotional pleas
  • You did not provide ID, payment or the appropriate forms
  • You have not passed the theory test
  • You forgot your licence
  • You turned up late.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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