These are the top reasons new drivers fail their exam (and how to avoid them)

Only about 47% of learner drivers in the UK pass their driving test each year. Let’s look at the most common reasons for failing and how to avoid them.

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While owning a car and being able to go wherever we want at any time is such a great feeling, passing the driving test is a whole different matter. With only 47.1% of learner drivers passing between January and March of last year, it’s normal to feel anxious. But worry not, we’ve rounded up the most common reasons for driving test fails and how you can avoid them. 

Reverse parking

During your test, you’ll likely be asked to either parallel park or reverse into a bay. Many drivers fail this one by ending up with the wheels on the pavement, too many attempts going back and forth, losing control of the car when parking in a bay or parking outside the bay.

How to best avoid this? Practise, practise, practise: once you understand just how to align your car, everything will fall into place. Before you try it on the road, watching a video guide might help, like this one for parallel parking and this one for reverse parking.

Once you’ve passed, you can take the stress out of parking by searching our network of spaces and booking parking that suits you. That way at least you know where you’re going, which for many takes away quite a bit of their parking anxiety (yes, it’s a thing, as is actual parallelophobia). 

Not responding correctly to traffic signs or lights

Typically, there are many signs along UK roads, telling us what (not) to do. Bring traffic lights into the mix, plus bright city lights and billboards, and it can get overwhelming. For many learner drivers, this is where mistakes happen, including ignoring “Stop” signs, not acting on speed limits, failing to move when the light goes green or stopping in areas intended for cyclists.

It might seem obvious, but remind yourself of what the signs mean before your test and then during your drive really concentrate and try to react to signs and lights in a timely and appropriate manner. In the simplest way: Move when it’s safe, don’t when it’s not.

Driving off

Another common reason for failure is not moving off correctly. Whether it’s not properly looking when driving from the roadside into the path of other vehicles or stalling the car, or forgetting to select a gear before driving off, these could all mean you have to try again at a later date. 

The good news is that these mistakes are fairly easy to avoid: stay calm and practise a driving off routine. That way you do all the checks - including checking mirrors and blind spots - in a set way and it becomes a habit.

Incorrect positioning

This can affect your position on the road while you drive along - too close to the curb or centre of the road - or when turning right at junctions. When trying to turn, many new drivers then obstruct traffic. 

As to driving along, your instructor should show you how to judge your position on the road. After that, in-car experience is what makes perfect. When turning right, signs and markings are your friends. Also remember to leave enough space for others so you don’t end up stopping traffic. 

Not looking or steering properly

This is one of the most common reasons for failing.Steering too late or not enough, not using the mirrors properly or not looking out for others at junctions are all typical slip-ups that can bring a new driver trouble during their exam. Especially considering the last two; each of which could endanger other drivers who are then forced to slow down, sometimes in a very short time.

The solution? Use both hands on the steering wheel at all times, remember MSM — Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre — and always take your time to observe before moving.

Now: good luck, deep breath and you got this!

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