There are three types of faults that you can get on a driving test:

  • Fault: Often referred to as a minor and not a test failure unless you gain too many under the same category.
  • Serious fault: A situation that could otherwise cause an incident should the circumstances be different.
  • Dangerous fault: A situation where the examiner must intervene to avoid an incident.

You can get up to 15 (minor) faults on a driving test, but get just one serious or dangerous fault, then it’s a test fail. We all want to avoid those ‘instant fail’ faults, so let’s take a look at the most common reasons for what would be an automatic fail on a driving test.

What Would be an Automatic Fail on a Driving Test?

In understanding what makes the most common reasons that result in an automatic or instant test failure should help you to avoid these mistakes on your own driving test.

Doing Anything Illegal

Sounds obvious, but it happens a lot and in these situations if you do anything that’s illegal or prohibited due to local restrictions, the examiner has no choice but to automatically fail you. Some examples of road traffic offences carried out by test candidates include:

  • Parking on the left or right where parking is prohibited.
  • Exceeding the speed limit.
  • Running a red light.
  • Failing to stop before a stop line.
  • Entering a lane that is prohibited; bus / cycle lane, for example.

Getting to know the area around your chosen test centre often helps with situations such as this. Test routes often include some of the more challenging areas, so take plenty of driving lessons to become familiar with the roads.

Impeding Other Road Users

Impeding other road users means causing a driver, motorcyclist or cyclist to slow down or change direction due to your actions and by doing this, will almost always result in an automatic test fail. Examples of impeding other road users include:

  • Moving off from a parked position and causing another road user stop change speed or direction.
  • Emerging from a junction without a sufficiently large gap in the traffic.
  • Emerging from a junction and not making sufficient progress, causing following vehicles to slow down.
  • Entering a roundabout and causing traffic on the roundabout to reduce speed or change direction.
  • Driving on a single lane road (usually due to parked cars) and not pulling in for oncoming vehicles when you have an appropriate gap to do so.
  • Positioning your car at a junction so that it impedes other drivers or causes them to take remedial action in order to manoeuvre around you.
  • Failing to respond to traffic lights. This typically includes waiting at a green filter light when it’s safe to proceed, or waiting at the stop line when turning right, when you should be stopped in position ready to turn when a gap in traffic emerges or when traffic flow stops.

Those are just a few common examples where you will instantly fail the driving test due to impeding other road users. In many of these situations, it’s due to the test candidate too eager to make progress through fear of hesitancy. In a driving test, undue hesitation is often marked as a minor fault, so it’s often beneficial to keep things slower rather than too fast.

Inadequate Observations

Examiners are strict on observations and if you forget to check a mirror or blind spot at a critical time, that’s it, test over and it’s an automatic fail. Here’s a few common examples:

  • Failing to take effective observation before emerging from a junction.
  • Failing to check the appropriate mirrors before changing direction.
  • Failing to check the blind spot before moving off from a parked position.
  • Failing to check the blind spot before changing lanes.

Failing to take effective observations before emerging from a junction is the number one reason for test failures each and every year and it’s almost always an automatic fail. You can get away with quite a lot of mistakes on the driving test, but when it comes to inadequate observations, examiners rarely let you off with a minor.

Road Positioning

Road positioning is where your car is positioned while driving, waiting in traffic or while parked. Poor road positioning doesn’t always lead to an automatic test failure, but if the circumstances are right, it only takes one instance of poor road positioning for the examiner to tick the fail box. Here some common example of poor road positioning that can result in an automatic test fail:

  • Poor road positioning at junctions.
  • Poor road positioning during normal driving.

Many driving tests are automatically failed due to poor road positioning for either emerging from a junction or turning into a junction and the problems are usually when turning right.

When emerging from a junction and turning right, ensure your car is positioned just to the left of the centre line and just before the junction line. If you’re positioned too far left, you’ll prevent vehicles from behind making progress if they want to turn left. Poor road positioning during normal driving is often sue to the test candidate passing parked vehicles too closely.

Vehicle Control

Problems with vehicle control often come down to manoeuvres and moving off. Here’s some common examples of why candidates fail the test due to control:

  • Hitting the kerb.
  • Stalling.
  • Carrying out a manoeuvre.

The three examples here usually result in (minor) faults, but a serious fault can arise depending on the circumstances. In terms of hitting the kerb, problems usually arise when the test candidate is making a left turn. Hit the kerb too harshly, it can be an automatic fail.

In terms of stalling, examiners aren’t too concerned unless you keep doing it. But if you happen to stall at an unfortunate location, such as the middle of a junction for example, that will likely result in an instant test failure.

Where the test candidate’s car control is made very clear is when carrying out a manoeuvre. The examiner may ask you to either parallel park, forward park or reverse park into a bay, or park up on the right and reverse. Mounting kerbs and finishing outside of your bay lines almost always result in automatic test fails.

Emergency Stop

Out of every three tests conducted, one of the tests will include the emergency stop, so it’s a bit of a gamble on whether you’ll be asked during your test.

You need to get the emergency stop right as there’s no room for error or adjustments. Get it wrong, that’s it, test over. There’s two common areas where the emergency stop goes wrong:

  1. Failing to stop the car quickly enough.
  2. Failing to appropriately observe before moving off.

Failing to stop the car quickly enough is either due to the reaction speed of the test candidate from accelerator to brake pedal being too slow after the examiner’s stop signal, or not pressing the brake pedal firmly enough.

Before moving off after completing the emergency stop, you need to ensure it’s safe to do so by completing all-round observations. This means starting from the left blind spot, left mirror, internal mirror, straight ahead, right mirror and finishing with the right blind spot.

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