Driving Tests Myths & Mistakes
Ten Driving Test Myths & Mistakes
Ø Common mistakes made by learner drivers
Ø Harmful driving test myths
Ø 10 Most common reasons for driving test failure
Myth: Driving examiners are only allowed to pass a certain number of pupils per week.
This is just not true. Perhaps this myth originates with those embarrassed by failure trying to come up with a convincing reason for family and friends. If you are up to driving test standard you will pass. It’s not meant to be easy, and the fact is that over 50% of candidates are just not up to the standard required. Driving examiners don’t fail you: you fail yourself.
Myth: Driving examiners enjoy failing learner drivers.
Examiners are professionals: their personal feelings do not enter into their assessment of you. Also, they have their bosses to report to – an unusual or inexplicable number of passes or failures would be looked into. It’s easier for an examiner to give good news rather than bad, and a pass means less paperwork for them.
Myth: There is a particular examiner who has tested me at the same test centre several times and failed me because he does not like me.
It would be easy to blame a ‘personality clash’ for failure, but again, driving examiners are professionals. Personal feelings or prejudices are irrelevant. An examiner whose work record showed an inclination to fail, for example women or a particular ethnic group, would soon be spotted. We would all like to blame someone else for our mistakes. The only way you will eventually pass is if you take responsibility for your performance and work hard to correct your faults.
Mistake: Taking the driving test in your own car.
This might seem like a good idea, but in fact it isn’t. The pupils who turn up in their own vehicles are usually those who have had no professional driving tuition, or are so dangerous the driving school has not let them use their vehicle. The examiner will be aware of this from the beginning and it is likely to make him or her nervous. In addition, the car will not have a dual braking system, which may mean the driving examiner might be inclined to intervene, verbally or physically, prematurely. Intervention by the examiner means failure, so you don’t want to increase the chances of that happening by using a car without the dual brake. You have a far better chance of passing if you use an instructors car.
Mistake: Delaying the learning and taking the test until you are older.
There is no time to lose: younger candidates outperform their seniors in passing the test. In 2004-6, the pass rate for 17 year old boys was 51% and for girls 48%. Pupils ten years older at 27 had pass rates of 43% and 36% respectively. At aged 47 the rates when down further to 35% and 25%. But also in that period, the oldest successful candidate was female. The DSA says a pupil needs 2 hours driving tuition for every year of life. In other words, if you are 17 you will need about 34 hours, and if you are 20 you will need 40 hours. All in all, it is easier and cheaper to learn at the youngest age possible. Anyone who has been ‘back to school’ or learnt a new skill knows that learning becomes more difficult as you get older
Myth: My father tells me he took only 8 hours of driving tuition and passed first time.
This may have been possible in the dim distant past, or perhaps he has ‘competitive dad’ syndrome. The test has grown to match the changing conditions on the roads. There is an ever larger number of cars, more complicated traffic conditions and signs and routes to follow. There is now also the theory test, reverse parking manoeuvres and the ‘show and tell’ section. Years ago, a candidate would just be asked a few questions on the Highway Code. Older drivers often acknowledge that they might have difficulty these days passing a test. The Driving Standards Agency estimates that a new learner driver needs a minimum of 45 hours professional training with a further 22 hours of private practice. You can console yourself that with a more serious, complex test, you will be a much more competent driver in a shorter space of time than your father. As soon as you pass, take him out on the road and impress him!
Myth: If you stall the car, you will fail.
Stalling happens. If it happens in a dangerous situation, say, on a roundabout, you could be in trouble. If it happens on a normal stretch of road, the important thing is how you deal with it. Panicking is not a good idea. Just take a deep breath, start again, and it is unlikely you would be failed on that one thing alone.
Mistake: Setting the mirror slightly ‘off’ so the examiner can see you move your head which makes it more obvious you are checking the mirror regularly.
Driving Examiners are trained to look for those small eye movements and are likely to be less than impressed by a mirror set at the wrong angle. Moving your whole head all the time will just distract you from effective observation.
Myth: Driving Schools make you take more lessons than you really need.
It is not in any school’s best interests to have lots of learners taking lesson after lesson with no end result. We want our former pupils to spread the word about their success! We give you advice, and if you want an independent rough guide: you are ready to take your test if you can drive for an hour without the verbal aid or assistance of your instructor. The DSA says that most people fail simply because they take the test before they are ready.
Myth: The minimum age for driving is going up to 18.
This is the oldest one in the book. However, it is true that recently a government task force recommended that learning should begin at 17 and the driving test taken at 18. However, for the age to change, it would require an Act of Parliament, which takes at least 2-3 years to become law. So, no need to worry about this for a while.
The best advice we can give you at Ian Leaver School of Motoring is: trust the examining system and assume the examiner is a professional. Treat him or her with respect. If you have any issues or problems about a failed test, talk to Ian at the School and we will investigate if appropriate. Never tackle the examiner directly.
10 Most Common Reasons for Failure
Examine these closely and try to avoid them. As you can see, most are concerned with observation – so the next time your Britannia instructor nags you, you can see it’s for a good reason!
1. Observation at junctions – ineffective or bad observation and judgment.
2. Reverse Parking – ineffective observation and/or lack of accuracy.
3. Use of Mirrors – not checking often enough, and/or not acting on the information.
4. Reversing Round a Corner – ineffective observation and/or lack of accuracy.
5. Incorrect use of Signals – giving misleading signals, or forgetting to cancel them.
6. Moving away Safely – ineffective observation.
7. Incorrect Positioning on the Road – particularly at roundabouts and on bends.
8. Lack of Steering Control – steering too early or too late.
9. Incorrect Position for turning right – at junctions or one-way streets.
10. Inappropriate Speed – driving too slowly or too quickly.
Reported by the Driving Standards Agency for the 12 months to January 2004