The most common errors to avoid on your driving test

Last Updated on November 25, 2022 by HodgePodgeDays

The idea of being able to drive is an exciting one. You’ll have the freedom to travel where you want, when you want, without relying on others or less convenient travel methods. There’s just one big challenge you have to navigate first: passing your driving test.

Doing so is no mean feat; less than half of tests are successful. Plus, the pressure to pass can grow if you’ve already failed before. You’ll need to make no more than 15 minor faults and no major faults to get yourself over the line.

The key, of course, is practice. Studying, driving lessons and extra practice with temporary driver insurance can all help you get behind the wheel for real. But what mistakes, in particular, should you look to steer clear of?

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the top reasons for an instant fail – based on DVLA data – to help you avoid the same fate.

These errors are all classed as serious or dangerous faults, which means they’re potentially dangerous or actually dangerous to you, the examiner, the public or property.

The most common errors to avoid on your driving test car


Are you up to speed with junctions and how to approach them in different scenarios? 26% of instant fails come down to major errors at junctions.

Part of the battle is observing them in the first place. But other requirements include selecting the right lane early enough and checking your surroundings when merging, particularly when turning right.

It can help to familiarise yourself with major junctions around your test route. That way you’ll be less likely to get caught out by their characteristics.


Next up on the list of actions to avoid is not using mirrors correctly when changing direction. Some 20% of test fails are attributed to poor use of mirrors.

Get into the habit of checking your mirrors in almost all scenarios, but especially when changing lanes or navigating junctions. And remember: mirror, signal, then manoeuvre.

Don’t be subtle about checking mirrors on your test either. Exaggerate your checks – turning your neck or body more – to make sure the examiner can see you’re doing the right thing.

Traffic lights

They might be something we’re familiar with from an early age, but just over one in ten failures are due to incorrect behaviour at traffic lights.

The most obvious actions to avoid are driving through red lights and stopping at greens. But you should make sure the road is clear before setting off under a green too.


Surprisingly, some 429 learners failed tests between July 2021 and March 2022 before getting into their car due to poor eyesight. Part of the test is reading a number plate from a certain distance, so don’t forget your glasses if you need them.

That feeds into the importance of preparation in general. You might ask your tutor for practice tests, for example. Aim to get a good night’s sleep and make sure you’re well-fed and hydrated too, as cognitive function is crucial.

Passing your test is an achievement to feel proud of. With these key lessons in mind, you’ll be better placed to pass with flying colours.

This is a contributed post.

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