By: Andy Newbound
‘I’m please to say that you’ve passed your driving test!’
When you’re learning to drive, those ten words are the ones you long to hear the most. It’s why you invest so much time, money and effort into so many lessons. Right?
For many of us, earning the freedom to slide behind the wheel of our own car and hit the road without supervision can signal the move from adolescence into fully blown adulthood. So it’s important that when it comes time to take your ‘practical’ driving test, you give yourself the best possible chance of success.
To help, we’ve compiled an essential Top 10 list of things to consider, look out for, research and definitely ‘do’ – each included to help you reach your goal. Let’s start with…
Frankly, there really is no substitute for experience. So get out there and take as many lessons as you can afford. And when you’re ready, go out driving with trusted family or a friend as often as possible. You’ll learn so much, and your confidence levels will soar.
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standard&rsquos Agency) recommend that drivers spend at least 47 hours driving with an instructor and then a further 20 hours of private practice. That’s a lot of driving! And a lot of money too. But the investment is worth it. Especially if you’re fortunate enough (or maybe that should be good enough) to pass first time.
To give yourself the best opportunity to pass your test, it’s important to know the Highway Code. After all, many of the rules contained within the Highway Code are legal requirements, so if you fall foul of any of these, you’re likely to fail your test.
Arming yourself with as much knowledge from the Highway Code as possible means you’ll drive with more confidence. Plus, there’s far less chance of being caught out by something unexpected on the road during your test.
Do your research and get to know all about what you can expect from the ‘Practical’ driving test; from the typical expectations of your examiner, the length of the test, the route you’re likely to take, and questions you’ll be asked. This should help you stay calm and help you concentrate more fully on your driving.
This is common sense really and we’ve already covered the value of practice, but when it comes to the many and varied driving manoeuvres, you really can’t practice them enough.
Your instructor will make sure you’re well drilled, but don’t scrimp on the opportunity to test yourself when you’re out driving with trusted family or friends. Each time you do them perfectly, your skills and your confidence will build and build, giving you the ideal preparation for your test.
Okay, we’ve covered this briefly in point three, but it really is so important that it deserves its own section. Your instructor is likely to know which route your test will take, so make sure you drive it regularly. This way, you can get to know the twists and turns, possible challenges, and the spots where you might be asked to perform a manoeuvre (hill-starts, reversing, emergency stops, right turns).
Knowing this means you’ll be calmer during your test and be less likely to lose your cool if you encounter traffic issues or busy junctions, etc.
It’s no coincidence that the same reasons for failing a driving test come up time and time again. So armed with this knowledge, there really is no reason why you should make the same mistakes, right? Here are the most common errors:
- Failing to check mirrors
- Poor observation when reversing or moving away
- Poor positioning at junctions
- Inappropriate speed (too fast and too slow)
- Failure to signal
- Hesitating at junctions when it’s safe to drive
- Poor hand positioning on the steering wheel
- Clutch control; stalling, and coasting when in motion
Work on these areas during your lessons and more importantly, when you’re driving privately. Get these right and you stand a much better chance of avoiding a ‘schoolboy error’ and succeeding during your test.
As we’ve already discussed, preparation is everything. However, even the best prepared drivers can fail their test without even getting in the car. That’s because in all the excitement of getting ready for your test, it’s easy to forget to bring along the essential paperwork. And if you don’t have these, it’s an instant FAIL.
-Your theory test pass certificate
-Your photocard driving licence
And even if you’ve remembered these, you’re still not out of the woods. Before you even start the car, you’ll be asked to read a car registration plate from 20 metres away. So if you need glasses to do this make sure you’re wearing them. Again, it’s an instant fail if you can’t read the number plate.
You’re bound to be a little nervous during your test, but that doesn’t mean you can be forgiven for turning into a shrinking violet. Not all examiners have loud, booming voices (in fact, there’s a good chance some might speak quietly on purpose, to see if you’re paying attention?) So if your examiner speaks too quietly, make sure you ask for the instruction or question to be repeated.
The last thing you want is to fail because you were too intimidated to ask and had to guess at what instruction was given. If you turn right when you were supposed to turn left, it probably won’t come as a surprise to find you’re unlikely to be successful.
What else would you focus on? Well, quite a lot actually. Drivers get distracted by all kinds of things, from the dashboard and the gear stick, to pedestrians, road side adverts, other drivers and the examiner (and their notes!!!)
Don’t make the simple mistake of concentrating on anything other than your driving, the road and mirrors. Even if the examiner speaks to you (and of course, they will) don’t look at them once you’re on the move. They want to see that your attention is safely on the road, so make sure it is.
Of course, you’re not expected to know the inner most workings of your instructor’s car but you should still get to know what’s what as part of your test.
Your instructor will probably give you a tour of the car, pointing out key aspects like where the fuel cap is, the lights, boot, where the spare wheel is and even tyre pressure and the engine itself. You’ll be expected to know where to check and fill up the engine’s fluids, including the oil, so make sure you take a look under the bonnet. For more information on this and also recent changes to the driving test, check out our blog here. Remember, the ‘Show Me Tell Me’ aspect of your test will quiz you on some of these areas and you don’t want to accrue any unnecessary ‘minors’ just because you didn’t pay attention. Or didn’t make the effort.
Now you’ve followed our Top Ten Tips, all that’s left to do is perfect your driving and pass your test. Good luck. Don’t forget, we’re here to help you get behind the wheel when you pass, with great deals on a new or used car, plus handy manufacturer schemes that can help make insuring your vehicle more accessible and affordable.
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