Common driving faults and how to avoid them


The DVSA has stated that the most common reason people fail their tests is not making effective observations at junctions. 

1. Junctions and observations

Junctions and observations are marked on:

    • ♦ The speed you approach junctions, if you approach too fast you will not have time to prepare. 
    • ♦ Your observations on approach, if there are pedestrians you would need to show that you have noticed them. 
    • ♦ Your position at the junction, if you are turning left or right you would need to be this side of the junction.
    • ♦ Do not cut corners when turning into a junction, this can land you a minor. 

You needed to show you can drive through junctions safely. You should have observed your surroundings, made your intentions clear, followed road signs and signals, and properly controlled the car.

2. Incorrect use of mirrors

You needed to show you can use your rear view mirror and door mirrors (wing mirrors) to see what’s behind or to the side of your car. This should be done in good time.
Mirrors need to be used when:

  • signalling
  • changing direction or lanes
  • changing speed
3. Control

You needed to show you can use all the car’s primary controls smoothly, these include:

  • ♦  accelerator
  • ♦  clutch
  • gears
  • brake
  • ♦  handbrake or parking
  • brake
  • ♦  steering
4. Positions and normal stops

When asked to by your examiner, you needed to pull up and stop at a safe place on the side of the road. When parked, your car should not have been a hazard to other road users.

5. Moving off

When moving off you need to make sure you control the car correctly and safely.
You needed to show you could move off safely and under control throughout your test.
Situations where you need to move off safely are:

  • ♦  from the side of the road
  • ♦  on a slope or hill (gradient)
  • ♦  from behind a parked vehicle, so you have to move off at an angle at junctions

You should use your mirrors and check blind spots to observe your surroundings, and signal when necessary. Your control of the car should prevent it from rolling backwards or stalling.

6. Response to signs and signals

You should recognise and react correctly to signs and signals on the road. This includes:

  • ♦  road signs
  • ♦  road markings
  • ♦  traffic lights
  • ♦  traffic controllers
  • ♦  other road users
7. Positioning

Not only does your positioning need to be correct at junctions, but it also needs to be correct when normal driving. You must not drive too close to the pavement or lines on the road, you need to remember lane discipline which is your ability to maintain your position within the lane. 

8. Reversing

You need to ensure you have full control of the car when reversing; to check all blind spots and mirrors. Do not rely on just mirrors to check surroundings. 

9. Ancillary controls

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10. Awareness and planning

You will need to show that you can anticipate other road users’ actions and notice potential hazards. You will need to react in good time, do not react last minute as this can cause an unnecessary hazard.
You should make sure to take extra care around more vulnerable road users. This includes:

  • ♦  motorcyclists
  • ♦  cyclists
  • ♦  horse riders
  • ♦  pedestrians
11. Clearance to obstructions

You need to maintain a safe amount of distance when passing other road users, parked vehicles, or potential hazards. A car door’s width should be maintained where possible.

12. Emergency stop

You need to come to a stop as soon as your examiner indicates for you too. The examiner will not ask you to do an emergency stop if there is a potential hazard around. You need to ensure that you have control of the car whilst stopping. You should make the stop without locking the wheels and losing control of the car.

13. Eyesight check

Your examiner will begin the test with an eyesight check. You need to read out the vehicle registration of a parked car. You will have had 3 chances to do this correctly.

If you did not read it correctly, you will have failed and will not be allowed to continue with your test.

If you need glasses or contact lenses, you must bring them to your next test.

14. Following at a safe distance

You need to maintain a safe distance when following other drivers, the distance kept from other vehicles needs to suit the road conditions. 

15. Forward park (bay park)

You will be marked on your control of the car when parking, and your observations of your surroundings. You should choose a designated space to park in, then reverse out. You should be straight and central in the space. 

You should check your surroundings throughout, proceeding only when it was safe to do so.

16. Judgement

You need to show good judgement when overtaking, meeting, and crossing other road users, such as knowing when to proceed, and when to wait for a safer opportunity.

You need to make your intentions clear, and understand the intentions of the other road users.

17. Pedestrian crossings

You need to recognise each type of pedestrian crossing and react accordingly. Different types of crossings are:

  • ♦  Zebra crossings.
  • ♦  Pelican crossings.
  • ♦  Puffin crossings.
  • ♦  Toucan crossings.
18. Precautions

Before you start driving, you should perform a few safety checks. This includes making sure:
your seat is positioned correctly and you can reach all the controls
your mirrors are positioned correctly;

  • ♦  all doors are shut
  • ♦  the handbrake or
  • ♦  parking brake is on
  • ♦  the gear is in neutral
19. Progress

You need to ensure that you can show you know how to use:

  • ♦  appropriate speed – your ability to drive at an appropriate speed for the road and traffic conditions
  • ♦  undue hesitation – your ability to maintain progress, and not hesitate and slow down when you did not need to

You should have driven at a speed appropriate for the road and traffic conditions, without holding up other road users.

20. Signals

You need to ensure you use correct signals when driving. You need to only use signals when necessary, and ensure to use the correctly. Do not use signals too late or too early, this can confuse other road users and may lead to a hazard.

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