Top ten test failures

Source: Intelligent Instructor


Top ten test failures

Can greater focus of fault areas help raise the pass rate

Over the past 2 years, the pandemic forced people to put a pin in their driving lessons.

This has left a backlog of thousands of learner drivers waiting to undertake their practical driving test. Then, of course, are the many thousands more just looking to start lessons.

Around 1.6 million UK learners undertook their driving tests every year before the pandemic, which more than halved to 436,000 in 2020/21. The traffic jam of candidates waiting for a driving test is unavoidable. Add to this the failure rate for the practical test adding even more candidates to the queues.



Passing the test

With this in mind, have analysed the data to find the top 10 reasons for test failure. Perhaps, armed with these facts, learner and their instructors can add a little more focus to their lessons in order to raise the first time pass rate and ease the test congestion.

An average of 323,798 learner drivers passed their driving test first time each year between 2007 and 2020, according to the official DVSA data. The number of examinations conducted has decreased drastically since the beginning of the pandemic, as lessons and tests were discontinued throughout various lockdown periods. However, while 1st attempt passes has decreased since 2007 by 215,739, the good news is that the overall 1st-time pass rate percentage has actually gone up by 8%. In fact in 2020/21, the pass rate actually got over the 50% mark, hitting 51%.

The true test will be whether this breakthrough can actually continue as the world get backs to normal.

Top ten

  1. Not making effective observations at junctions – This major fault has been the most common reason for failing every year since 2006/07. With a lot for learners to think about, it’s an easy one to miss but it’s important to take your time and approach at a suitable speed. And don’t forget mirror – signal – manoeuvre (MSM).

  2. Not using mirrors when changing direction – Always remember to check your mirrors before making a manoeuvre, as this is the second most common reason for failing every year since 2006/07.

  3. Incorrect positioning when turning right at a junction – When driving on a straight road, keep to the centre of the lane, but when turning right be sure to position the car to the right side of the lane.

  4. Responses to traffic lights – Faults at traffic lights could be due to hesitation or because you cut it too fine on a red light. Maintain focus when pulling up to traffic lights, if they’ve been green for a while as you approach, you should anticipate that they might change.

  5. Having proper control of your steering wheel – Remember to keep both hands on the wheel – preferably at the ’10 to 2 o’clock’ position. After making a turn, don’t let the steering wheel spin back. Instead, feed the wheel through your hands back into position.

  6. Not paying attention to road signs – Be aware of all road signs, learn what they mean and act accordingly. Once you’ve identified a sign, react in plenty of time and in a safe manner.

  7. Not responding to road markings – As well as paying attention to road signs, you must always look out of any road markings and do as they instruct you to do.

  8. Moving off safely – Check, check and check again. It’s important to check all your mirrors and your blind spot before moving the car.

  9. Positioning of the car whilst driving – Always look out for road markings to help stay in the centre of the lane. On roads that do not have markings be mindful of your distance to the edge of the road.

  10. Poor control of the car when moving off – Try to remain as calm as possible – all drivers stall from time to time. If you do stall, it might not lead to a fault. Just restart your manoeuvre and do all the necessary checks to make sure it’s safe before moving off.



Calming expectations

Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at, comments: “Learning to drive can be a really exciting time. The test that learners must take to get their licence has changed over the years, but it’s still a long process to go through before they hit freedom.

Kindred says doing the background reading, getting a professional course of lessons and practising is the only sure way to success. Mock theory and practical tests will help ‘familiarise” candidates with the process, “and it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on the Highway Code too”.

With waiting lists as they are, there is even more pressure to pass first time.

2022-06-18T10:28:48+00:0018 June 2022|
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