DRIVING TEST FAULTS. PASS OR FAIL?
Driving test faults
in the practical driving test throw up some common misconceptions of what an examiner is expecting you to do or not to do during the test. Here are some examples of things you as a learner might think is a fault but is actually not, so read on for some surprising facts.
The information below is a collection of factual occurrences on what you might think would lead to driving test faults, but often do not amount to a failed driving test, but in actual fact would not lead to a fault being recorded in certain circumstances during my time as a driving instructor with over 10 years of experience.
1. Stalling the car.
“If on test you stall you will fail” This is in fact not exactly correct and there may be times when stalling will cause a test failure, but it all depends how and when the stall happens, imagine you stall while moving away from the side of a quiet road and stall, this will not result in a fail as you are not compromising your or anybody else’s driving so just control the car and start again.
Imagine you are at a set of traffic lights and as you attempt to move away a stall happens, applying the handbrake and selecting neutral will only result in delaying your procedure to get yourself moving off and through the lights and therefore possibly holding traffic up behind. The lights may even change back to red in this time as this would then be deemed a fault for compromising you and the traffic behind.
A quicker solution would be to brake and clutch down and then start again speeding the process up drastically allowing you and everybody else to proceed. The only time it might be better practice for the handbrake in a stall situation is when on an uphill start to keep the car under control ready for a hill start move off reducing the chance of any roll backs. If you are unsure at any time then apply the handbrake to be safe.
An examiner is looking for you to maintain control and apply the appropriate action for the given situation, keep calm and use the handbrake when it is really appropriate and not always as par for course.
2. Reverse manoeuvre perfection?
When doing reverse manoeuvres there is often a confusion that these have to be done perfectly, this is not the case and as long as you are in control of your surroundings and giving priority to all other road users including pedestrians then you will be fine.
Re adjustments are allowed and expected in order to complete your task. The test marking sheet does not have a box to score for accuracy only for control and observations. Everybody can make errors of steering judgement so what do you do if this happens. Starting your manoeuvre from the beginning will potentially hold traffic up further or even run out of time to complete so adjust any positioning with either forward movement or reverse movement to fix any problems.
3. Hitting the kerb.
“If I hit the kerb I will fail”, this very much depends on how it happens and what it affected if anything at all. If you hit the kerb while reversing you are likely to be going very slowly and as long as it is clear behind you then there is not a problem, so you are very unlikely to fail or even be marked down as a minor driving fault, however compare that to if you were reversing too quickly, your speed could cause you to mount the kerb as your observations will be compromised due to your speed, which is more likely to result in serious driving test faults as an examiner will then assess that you were not in full control and that was the reason the kerb was hit or even mounted.
4. Application of the handbrake on stops.
Applying your handbrake at every stop is not absolutely necessary, but essential in some stops and in some circumstances may not amount to driving test faults.
Let me assure you, when I require this and when it is not absolutely needed.
- Stopped at traffic lights. YES.
- Parking at the side of the road. YES.
- At pedestrian crossings when you are the lead car. YES.
- Immediately after an Emergency stop. YES.
- Roundabouts and T-junction stops, etc. NO.
- Queuing traffic on every actual stop. NO.
- Stopped to begin a reverse manoeuvre. NO.
- Stalling the car. NO.
As you can see there are a few areas where a handbrake is important. But in general driving then this is not an absolute must. Now this does not mean you must not apply the handbrake. It is more really about whether it is needed in the areas where I have stated as not a requirement. If you are not completely sure then use the handbrake. It is there for you to use to assist you in keeping the car secure once stopped.
5. Pull push steering.
The mandate was changed some years ago on the standard for steering the wheel on a driving test. The pull-push technique used to be the only method of steering the car on driving tests. This has now been superseded and the actual requirement now is you are able to steer the car any way you feel suitable as long as the car is in complete control during a drive. It is advised, but not required and will not be marked down on a test. There are arguments on the deployment of the airbags that pull push will assist less injury if the hands are not crossing when steering. Keep in control of the car and all will be fine.
6. Signalling on every turn.
“Driving: The Essential Skills” and “The Official Highway Code” state that when moving off or stopping you should signal when necessary, so if there is no one to benefit from your signal then it is not required. For example, if you are stopping on the left to park and there are no cars behind, ahead and no pedestrians or other road users to benefit then you do not have to signal your intention to park. That will not form part of your driving test faults at the end of your test.
Turning junctions is slightly different because typically most junctions have poor vision, you can only really see fully down the new road when you get near the junction, as such you will not know if anyone will benefit, as you can’t see if anyone is coming! If that makes sense! Therefore with junctions, it is normally best to give a signal. Sometimes you may forget to signal at a junction and still be fine as the examiner will make a decision on whether it really affected your turning and whether it was needed to benefit other road users.
7. If I go the wrong way will I fail.
Going in the wrong direction to where an examiner has stated or when you are on your independent driving section of your test does not constitute a serious fault unless you go in that direction incorrectly or dangerously. For example, turning into a road which is a no entry one-way system or indicating left on approach to a junction and then making the decision to go straight or right at the last moment probably still indicating left. Going left at a roundabout for instance, when you should have gone straight or right. Do that correctly by signalling left and you will be absolutely fine with no error being marked.
The examiner will put you back on track after this is done. We all make little mistakes and as long as it does not affect your driving or anybody else’s driving. Don’t worry and continue on your journey and there will be no driving test faults recorded.
When on your driving test try to avoid thinking what I should or should not do for the test. Just drive as you would normally, sometimes over thinking things because it is a test can mean you get distracted. Mistakes can happen when this is done. Concentrate on what you are doing next and not what you have already done. Whatever has already been done cannot be rectified. So, leave it in the past and get on with driving the car.
The marking system is very much ’cause and effect’. If you do something and don’t cause a problem then normally you will be fine.
The examiners will very often use discretion when making a decision on driving test faults. Therefore, it could mean you will not fail for something that you think you failed on. Show the examiner that you can recover from a mistake and you may be surprised by the end result.
Remember, not all driving test faults are recorded on the DL25 driving test sheet. So, stay calm and drive as you normally do with your instructor.