Top 10 Reasons for Failing the Driving Test

(latest results published on the 19th of April 2021)

The pass rate between April 2019 and March 2020 is 45.9%. To ensure that you are one of those with a positive result, before taking your practical driving test you should make sure you are a safe driver and fully prepared to pass your test. Follow the advice of your driving instructor who’s a professional and knows what’s expected and needed to pass. 

How to Know You’re Test Ready – Ask Yourself These Questions

  • Have I covered all topics in the learn to drive syllabus?
  • Can I perform all of the driving skills, without help from my driving instructor?
  • Can drive for 45-minutes without making a serious or dangerous driving fault?
  • Can I make driving decisions, without having to ask another person?
  • Do I feel confident that I am ready to drive on my own?

Your Test is Soon!  What Can you Do To Be Better Prepared? 

  1. Pass at least one mock test
  2. Get to know the area you’ll be taking your test
  3. Think about time of day and day of week (bin day / school / factories lunch break etc)
  4. Read Driving the Essential Skills
  5. Go through Online Driving Lessons to remind yourself of all the correct and safe driving procedures
  6. Practice all manoeuvres and feel confident to make corrections. Go through Online Manoeuvres Lessons
  7. Tell yourself you’re going to pass because If you think you can…you probably will!
  8. Don’t tell other people the date – don’t put yourself under pressure
  9. Have EXTRA lessons and extra driving practice in the weeks leading up to the test
  10. Practice commentary driving, saying out loud what you can see as you’re driving along. This will help you to notice more and approach hazards safer. (This can be done as a driver, pedestrian, passenger)

Reason No. 1 for Failing

Not making effective observations at junctions 

What This Means

Not looking around enough at a junction or roundabout

Not looking in the correct places before making decisions to emerge

What You Need To Do

Check the correct mirrors 

Indicate in good time 

Get into the correct position 

Make sure you’re driving at the appropriate speed 

Look in all the appropriate places before you decide when it’s safe to go 


Think about where you would look if you had to walk across the road with a small child 

Think about what you can’t see

Think about what is blocking your vision – the windscreen pillar, things hanging in your car, parked cars, hedges, buildings, the shape of the road 

All of these things will affect how well you can see 

Use clutch control to edge out and don’t make your decision until you have the full picture 

Reason No. 2 for Failing

Not using mirrors correctly when changing direction 

What This Means 

Not checking mirrors at all before driving into a new road or changing lanes

Not checking your mirrors correctly before driving into a new road or changing lanes 

What You Need To Do

Mirrors should be checked in pairs well before you change position, speed or direction.


If you are going to move your car over to the right, you need to check your middle and right door mirrors 

If you are going to move your car over to the left, you need to check your middle and left the door mirrors 

Mirrors should be checked in good time so that you can make good decisions based on what you can see

Reason No. 3 for Failing 

Not having proper control of steering 

What This Means 

Not steering enough when going around a bend and hitting the curb

Steering too late which causes you to swan-neck into a new road 

Driving past parked vehicles too closely 

What You Need To Do

You must be able to stay the car as smoothly as possible

You must not get too close to vehicles and follow a good path as you drive into new roads 

Reason No. 4 for Failing 

Incorrect positioning when turning right at junctions 

What This Means 

Positioning your car too far to the left while you’re waiting to turn right 

Using the left-hand lane to turn right at a roundabout 

What You Need To Do

Position your car to the right of your lane when waiting to turn right

Position in the correct lane to turn right at roundabouts


Follow the M S M routine to turn right:

  • Check your interior mirror and right door mirror
  • Signal in good time, to allow other road users time to respond  
  • Position your car correctly 

Reason No. 5 for Failing 

Not moving off safely 

What This Means 

Not checking properly that it’s safe to move away from the side of the road

Checking that it’s safe to move away but making the wrong decision 

Moving away after an emergency stop without making the proper checks

What You Need To Do

Check your mirrors, ahead and your right blind spot before moving away

Make a safe decision about when to move away

Check your mirrors, ahead and both blind spots before moving away after performing an emergency stop

Reason No. 6 for Failing 

Not responding appropriately to traffic lights 

What This Means 

Going through a red traffic light

Not proceeding when traffic lights are on green and it’s safe to go

Going when a green light is showing but the junction is not clear (this means you’re blocking the junction when the lights do change) 

Stopping in the advance box for cyclists 

What You Need To Do

You must respond correctly at traffic lights 

Go on a green light if the road is clear

Stop on a red or amber light

Do not stop in the advance box for cyclists unless unavoidable


As you approach traffic lights, check your mirrors so you know what’s behind you and how close it is 

Ease off the gas and expect to have to stop

When the lights change to green, only go if your junction ahead is clear. If it is not clear you need to continue to wait behind the line

Reason No. 7 for Failing 

Poor positioning on the road during normal driving 

What This Means 

Driving too close to the left or too close to the right in normal driving 

Staying in the right-hand lane on a dual carriageway 

Not staying in lane when driving around a roundabout 

What You Need To Do

Position in the centre of your lane or one metre from the kerb in normal driving 

Move back to the left-hand lane after overtaking on a dual carriageway 

Stay in your lane on a roundabout. 


Cutting across lanes on a roundabout is known as ‘straightlining’. This is dangerous, causes problems for road users, and can result in a collision. 

Reason No. 8 for Failing 

Not responding correctly to traffic signs 

What This Means 

Ignoring stop signs or no entry signs 

Driving in bus lanes 

Driving in the wrong lane at roundabouts 

Not sticking to speed limits 

Keeping to the wrong side of a sign that says keep left 

What You Need To Do

Understand and react to all traffic signs 

Only drive in bus lanes when permitted

Choose the correct lane at roundabouts

Not break the speed limit


Look out for signs and road markings as you drive along 

Ease off the gas to reduce speed and give yourself time to read and react appropriately to road signs 

Reason No. 9 for Failing 

Not having control of the car when moving off 

What This Means 

Repeatedly stalling when you try to move away 

Trying to move away when your car is not in gear 

Trying to move away on a hill and rolling back 

What You Need To Do

Be able to control your car well when you are moving away on a flat surface, downhill surface or uphill surface.

Be able to control your car well when you’re moving away from behind a parked vehicle or 

Be able to control your car well when driving out of a junction 

Reason No.10 for Failing 

Not keeping control of the car during reverse parking 

What This Means 

Not controlling the car well when you are manoeuvring 

Not positioning your car correctly 

Having too many attempts to finish the manoeuvre 

The wheels of the car touching the kerb or mounting the pavement

What You Need To Do

Control your car well using good clutch control skills to move very slowly 

Finish the manoeuvre without too many corrections

Finish the manoeuvre accurately


Before reversing, check all mirrors and blind spots

Before steering, check your blindspot

React correctly to other road users

There are 100’s of reasons that people fail their driving test, but if you prepare well and listen to the advice of your instructor, you can be one of the smaller percentage of learner drivers that pass their test first time.

Many learner drivers choose to take their test before they’re fully ready and before they have developed their hazard awareness skills. Notice that many of the top ten reasons for failing are due to incorrect decisions, not incorrect control of the vehicle. Knowing and understanding the safe decision to make, where to look and how to position correctly takes time to master.