Last Updated on October 8, 2020

Statistics show that from April 2018 to March 2019 the overall pass rate for the practical driving test was 45.7%. This means that 54.3% of learners didn’t pass their driving test. Whether you’re taking your first driving lesson or your driving test is tomorrow, the list below will help you avoid the most common reasons people fail their driving test.

Traffic Lights

We’ll start off with one of the most common reasons people fail, which is responding correctly to traffic lights. Some people may be surprised by this as it is so simple. However, some learners can be so focused on other areas that they don’t see an upcoming red light. When it comes to traffic lights a common mistake is sitting at a green light when it is safe to continue, this is classed as a fault for not paying attention. Other faults including not confronting red lights, stopping beyond a stop line in the area designated for cyclists.

Avoid this mistake by being aware of your surroundings, aware of floor markings on the road and most importantly, look at the traffic lights!

Use of Mirrors

Another common reason for people failing their driving test is their use of mirrors. The most common misuse of mirrors is speeding up without checking your mirrors, changes lanes and stopping. You also have to look at all of your mirrors in the correct order. You can also fail your test by looking at your mirrors too late.

Avoid this mistake by checking your mirrors every 30 seconds or less, and always look before slowing down, turning, switching lanes, speeding up and of course stopping.

Moving Off

Next in line is moving off safely. In this process, you need to make sure you are not a hazard for any other road users. Make sure you use your mirrors and check your blind spots before moving. When it comes to moving, you need to make sure you are in control of the vehicle at all times. Repeated stalling can fail your test, as well as repeatedly moving with the handbrake on and attempting to move without putting the car in gear.

Top Reasons People Fail Their Driving Test

Response to Road Markings

Make sure you know the rules around road markings, as this can be classed as dangerous driving. Two examples of this would be stopping in a yellow box when the exit isn’t clear, as well as not following directional arrows.

Avoid this by paying attention to road markings, signs and checking to see if there is room to avoid stopping in yellow boxes. Observation is a huge part of the practical driving test and you should always be aware of what is around you.


Steering is a relatively easy mistake to avoid but unfortunately, it is still one of the biggest reasons people can fail their test. The aim is to maintain a steady course throughout your whole test. Avoid hitting and mounting curbs (and other cars of course!) Keep your hands at 10 and 2 and be sure to feed the wheel through your hands as opposed to letting go of the wheel and turning it.

Turning at Right Junctions

Always remember when turning at a right junction to position your vehicle towards the centre line, slow right down, keep observing your surroundings, maintain good control of the clutch and brake and only exit when it is safe.  A common mistake is touching the corner after you’ve turned, so avoid going too far before making your turn. Also, look out for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians as these are much easier to miss than a car.

Observations at Junctions

The number one reason most people fail their driving test is because of observations. In fact, 11.9% of the failed driving tests in 2018 were for this reason. This is an easy mistake that you should avoid, however, when you’re under stress it’s quite easy to panic. To avoid panic, simply take your time, observe what’s around you and go when it’s safe to do so.

Be sure to learn from these mistakes, remain vigilant and observant when driving and get as much practice as you can before booking your test.

Practice makes perfect and getting private practice in a parent’s car in addition to instructor-led lessons is a great way to improve your chances of passing. Get insured for private practice with Collingwood.