No matter how much of a confident driver you are and how much practice you have, the idea of failing your practical driving test is always going to be a worry. It is all about what happens one the day, some people are lucky and have a stress free test, and everything goes to plan. But some people, unfortunately, come across a tricky situation that is hard to handle and end up failing.

What Causes You To Fail Your Practical Driving Test?

Several different reasons may contribute to you receiving a major in your driving test. Some are things that you can avoid yourself, and some are just bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, there are some common issues that your driving instructor would have regularly come across as a reoccurring problem. If you want to find out things that you can do to help your test go smoothly then keep reading!


You have mirrors all over your car for a reason, so make the most out of them. It is more than likely that you will hear your driving instructor repeat the phrase ‘mirror, signal, manoeuver’ throughout your lessons and this is because it is one of the most important things that you need to remember. It is critical that you check your mirrors not only when doing manoeuvres, but when you do just about anything while driving, changing lane, speeding up, slowing down, changing directions. By check mirrors, it doesn’t mean that you have to stare in your mirror for an extended period, just take a quick glance to ensure that you are completely aware of your surroundings and know exactly what is going on outside the car. To pass your test, you need to prove to your examiner that you will be a safe driver and they can trust you to drive independently, always looking around and being aware is one of the main ways of proving this.

car wing mirror


Not all roads are the same, you will not always be in the same lanes for everything, not every roundabout will be a left lane to turn left and right lane to turn right. This means it is vital that you are always checking road markings and road signs to check that your positioning is right and you are in the correct lane. If you do realise that you are in the wrong lane then as long as you change lane in due time, there will be no issues. Changing lane last minute will not only cause panic but it’s also not always possible to cut in last minute. You could end up being forced to go the wrong way, different to the direction in which you were asked to go by your examiner.

Another aspect of positioning that you need to be careful on is that you are positioned in the middle of the lane. You want to avoid being too close to the curb and run the risk of hitting the curb. But also you don’t want to be too far over or too close to the line that could run the risk of disrupting the other lane.


The long-running rule of junctions is that if you cannot see exactly what is coming or cannot see around the corner then do not go straight away. At some junctions your vision is blocked due to parked cars, houses, trees or hedges, which means the best approach is to stop and then use the ‘peep and creep’ method. This means very slowly emerging out of the junction slow enough that you can very quickly stop if you see someone coming. Even if is an open junction with nothing blocking visibility it is crucial to thoroughly look both ways, not just in the direction you plan to go. If you pull out and it forces another driver to slow down or slam on their breaks then, unfortunately, it is a major, which is an automatic fail.

car going round corner

Blind Spot

Although your mirrors do cover most areas, there are blind spots that you will also need to check by physically turning around and looking through the windows. Blind spots can be a massive safety hazard because they can hide cyclists and people who are walking behind your vehicle. You will need to ensure you check blind spots while performing manoeuvres and changing lanes, but most importantly moving off. Failure to move off safely will result in a major on your test. If you’re unsure about where blind spots are situated within your car, we have found a helpful resource to explain more.


To prove you can drive safely you have to have full control over the car and the main aspect of this is steering. Your examiner will be watching out for whether you can maintain steady steering and you are not continually swerving. Although this sounds easy, steady steering can become more difficult when you are driving at a higher speed; the smallest movement can be accentuated. You will also need to look out for your steering when turning corners, in particular, sharp corners, you don’t want to steer too early, but you don’t want to steer too late. As long as you slow down enough and steer quickly, you can easily avoid hitting the curb or cutting a corner and more importantly avoid another point on your test.

Keep Practicing

Driving is all about practice; it is true that practice makes perfect. The more you drive and get used to the new skills, these kind things should become second nature. It is easy to panic in your test, which causes mistakes and things slip your mind, but as long as you keep going over everything that your instructor has taught you, then you are on to success. If you are worried about your test and would like some more tips on driving skills, The Official DVSA Guide to Driving is a helpful book to give a read.