Last Updated on April 5, 2023

Taking your driving test is a nerve-wracking experience with so many things that can go wrong, even for the most confident of drivers! There are a lot of reasons why people fail their driving test but there are some common reasons why. 
In 2022, the overall pass rate for practical tests was 47.1%, meaning over half of learners failed. Not to worry, there is no limit on how many times you can retake your practical exam. So, if you are someone who has failed, you can always try again.  
We want to help you by going over some common reasons why people fail their driving test. This can help you practice before your test and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes as other drivers! 

What are Minor and Major faults on your Driving test?

During your practical driving test, you will be marked on your driving ability. You will often hear people talk about faults. Depending on how your it goes, will depend on how many faults you receive. This will determine if you pass or fail. 
There are 3 different types of faults that you can get: a dangerous fault, a serious fault, or a driving fault. Which are based on how dangerous the fault is. This will help your examiner to determine whether you pass or fail your driving test. 
You are allowed no more than 15 driving faults (sometimes called minors), and you cannot have any serious or dangerous faults. If you have any serious or dangerous faults, you will fail your driving test. 

Traffic Lights  

We’ll start off with one of the most common reasons people fail their driving test. Which is responding incorrectly to traffic lights. 
While traffic lights are something you should have mastered; they are often the main reason learners fail their driving test. This is often because your mind is elsewhere, and you are focusing on upcoming hazards and manoeuvres that you ignore the red light up ahead. Going through a red light is a major fault, so make sure you are paying attention!  
Another common fault is sitting at a green light for too long. This makes it seem as though you are not paying attention, and if it is safe to go, you should go. Make sure you are pulling away when traffic lights turn green to avoid a fault for not paying attention. 
You may also be faced with a fault during your test if you stop your car beyond the designated cyclist area at a traffic light. 

Mistakes at traffic lights can be avoided by paying attention to your surroundings, other drivers, and knowing the road rules. Don’t slip up on your test by being too distracted and focused on other areas of the that you make mistakes during easier sections. 
One tip is also to make your own observations. Don’t rely on other drivers to give you information. Be sure you check; do not assume a light is green because the driver in front goes straight through the lights. This can easily make you fail by following other drivers’ dangerous behaviour. 

Use of Mirrors 

Another common reason for people failing their driving test is their use of mirrors. You need to check your mirrors before you change lanes, turn, or change speed. This shows that you are aware of other drivers and are being safe on the roads. Using the mirrors lets you see potential hazards and avoid them to be safe. 
You need to check your mirrors early, as checking too late could make you fail your test. Avoid this mistake by checking your mirrors every 30 seconds or less. Always look before slowing down, turning, switching lanes, speeding up, and stopping. 
Also, make sure you are reacting to what you are seeing in your mirrors. For example, if there is a car right behind you, slowing down would not be safe, so make sure you are not in danger before slowing down. 

Moving Off  

Next in line is moving off safely. When you are moving off, you need to make sure you are not a hazard to other road users. 
You need to be using your mirrors and checking your blind spots before moving and while you are moving. Show your examiner that you are in control of the vehicle and are aware of other people on the road. 
Be aware that repeated stalling, moving with the handbrake on, and attempting to move without putting the car in gear repeatedly can cause you to fail your test. This is because it demonstrates that you are not in control of the car and cannot handle the vehicle safely. 
Stalling in a place where it is not putting you or other drivers in danger will not result in an immediate failure. You should be careful not to stall repeatedly though. If you do stall, you should deal with the situation calmly and safely to show the examiner you know how to react. 

Response to Road Markings 

There are many different road markings that you may come across. For your practical driving test, it is important that you know what they mean and can respond to them correctly. 
Not knowing and responding correctly to road markings is seen as dangerous driving, as you are not following the rules of the road. As this may put you and other drivers at risk. 
Some examples of this would be stopping in a yellow box when the exit isn’t clear, as well as not following directional arrows. Where you are putting yourself and others in danger by not responding to the road markings. 

Avoid this by paying attention to road markings and signs and checking to see if there is room for your vehicle. Observation is an important part of the practical driving test. You should always be aware of what is going on 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. 
When you are taking your practical driving test, you need to stay on course while avoiding hazards and following instructions. You should maintain a steady course throughout the whole exam to show you have control of the vehicle. 

Some problems that could happen would be mounting curbs, having close calls with obstacles, and not staying in your specific lane. Any of these things happening on your test shows the examiner that you are not in control of the car. 

You also need to always have at least one hand on the wheel to show you are still in control. When you are changing gears, thanking other drivers, or moving the clutch, you still have one hand firmly on the wheel. Otherwise, both hands should be on the wheel. 

Turning right at junctions 

Turning right at junctions can be tricky, as there is so much that you need to be aware of that it can be easy to make a mistake. 
Always remember, when turning right at a 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 to avoid this mistake. 
Also, look out for cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians before, during, and after your turn! They can often be harder to spot than cars and can appear out of nowhere, so make sure you are paying attention.

Observations at Junctions 

The number one reason most people fail is because of observations. It is easy to get distracted and caught up in the pressure of your driving test. This can make you forget fundamentals that are important. 
Make sure you are taking time to observe what is going on around you and taking note of any hazards that may impact you at the junction. Make sure you are moving off only when it is safe to do so and not rushing in the moment. 


When you are going into your practical driving lesson, be sure you stay calm and keep in mind everything you have been learning. Learn from the reasons people fail their driving test and try not to make the same mistakes! 
If you do, make a mistake, but do not get too in your head about it! Depending on the fault, you may only get a minor, which is not a big deal. Just move on and stay focused, or you could risk failing the test entirely. 
Be sure to learn from others mistakes, remain vigilant and observant when driving, and get as much practice as you can before booking your test. If you do fail your driving test, don’t worry; you can always get more practice and try again. 
Practice makes perfect. Private practice in a parent’s car in addition to instructor-led lessons is a way to improve your chances of passing. Get insured for private practice with Collingwood. 

Need extra practice? Get a Learner Insurance Quote with Collingwood