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​The Most Common Ways That UK Drivers Fail Their Driving Test

Jess Hardiman

| Last updated 

​The Most Common Ways That UK Drivers Fail Their Driving Test

Many people like to think they're pretty good behind the wheel, sailing straight through their driving tests and onto the roads.

Others, however, are disappointed when they rock up to the test centre only to find that they fail - whether it's down to nerves, forgetfulness or simply not being ready - and have to be driven home by their instructor in tears.

Now the government has shared a guide about what NOT to do in your test, having collated the top 10 reasons why drivers tend to fail in the UK.

The guide, which was published earlier this year, gives examples of 'the types of mistakes people make during their test', from not using mirrors correctly when changing direction to not having control of the vehicle when parking.


According to the government, there was a 45.9 percent pass rate between April 2019 and March 2021.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"Many people who failed their test made at least one of the mistakes explained in this guide," it explains on its website, encouraging learner drivers to use the guide with their instructor or supervising driver to practice each area.

Find out the full top 10 below:


1. Not making effective observations at junctions

Examples include failing to judge the speed of an approaching vehicle, entering a roundabout with a vehicle approaching from the right, making no effective observations at all, making no observations when joining a dual carriageway from a slip road, going straight ahead at a crossroads, looking too late and repeatedly not looking left when turning left.

The government explains: "Drivers failing to look properly was a factor in 37% of all reported accidents in Great Britain in 2019."

2. Not using mirrors correctly when changing direction


Examples include not using mirrors when exiting a roundabout, causing a vehicle to slow when changing lanes on a dual carriageway, trying to change lane on a roundabout when a vehicle is directly alongside and not checking mirrors when exiting a roundabout.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

3. Not having proper control of the steering

Examples include repeatedly not steering enough or steering late on the approach to junctions when turning left, not steering enough when going around a bend, steering late when turning right into a minor road, repeatedly mounting the pavement when pulling up on the left and steering late when moving out to pass parked vehicles.


"More than 1 in 10 reported accidents in Great Britain in 2019 were caused by the driver making a poor turn or manoeuvre," the government says in the guide.

4. Incorrect positioning when turning right at junctions

Examples include positioning in the left-hand lane when turning right at a roundabout, obstructing traffic when you wait to turn right and when you want to turn right at the end of the road, you incorrectly position to the left.

5. Not moving off safely


Examples include moving off from behind a parked vehicle into the path of an approaching vehicle, repeatedly moving off from the side of the road with no blind spot checks, pulling off from the right-hand of the road, causing an oncoming vehicle to slow or stop and not making any rear observations when moving off following an emergency stop.

6. Not responding appropriately to traffic lights

Examples include failing to react to a red traffic light, stopping after the first white line when there are advanced stop lines for cyclists, not progressing when you're waiting to turn right at a junction and it's safe to proceed, not going ahead when a green light is showing and the junction ahead is clear and going ahead when a green light is showing but the junction is not clear.

The government guide adds: "There were 1,308 reported accidents in Great Britain in 2019 caused by drivers disobeying traffic lights."

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

7. Poor positioning on the road during normal driving

Examples include repeatedly driving too close to the kerb or centre of the road, unnecessarily driving in the right-hand land of a dual carriageway and cutting across the normal road position when you go ahead at a roundabout with no lane markings.

8. Not responding correctly to traffic signs

Examples include going to the wrong side of a 'keep left' sign, ignoring a 'stop or 'no entry' sign, driving in a bus lane, choosing the wrong lane at a roundabout with clear signage and acting late or not at all to speed limit changes.

9. Not having control of the vehicle when moving off

Examples include stalling or rolling back when trying to move off, repeatedly stalling when moving off, stalling repeatedly when moving off on one occasion and trying to move off without selecting a gear and then rolling back.

The guide says: "There were 942 reported accidents in Great Britain in 2019 caused by driver error when moving off at junctions."

10. Not keeping control of the vehicle during reverse parking

Examples include wheels ending up on the pavement at the end of a parallel park, too many attempts to reposition when parking, losing control of the car when parking in a bay and ending up barking outside of the bay.

Read the full government guide here.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: UK News, News, Driving, Driver, Driving test, Cars

Jess Hardiman
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