June 13, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

Taking your driving test soon? Learn about these top ten ‘Instant Fails’ first

In the past few years, driving tests in the UK have been incredibly hard to come by.

Amid sky-high demand and longer waiting lists than ever before, some London drivers have even turned to booking driving tests in Cornwall, hundreds of miles from home.

Thanks to an admittedly delayed response from the DVLA, change is on the horizon. Those who fail their driving test will now need to wait 28 days, instead of the previously given 10, before booking another attempt.

But this news puts more pressure on those getting ready for their test, making it feel even more urgent to pass first time and avoid months of delays. If you’re preparing to take your driving test, make sure you know about ten things that could cause failure, straight away.

Ten things that could instantly make you fail your driving test in Great Britain

  1. Failing to spot an oncoming car at a junction

According to research by learner driver insurance specialists Dayinsure, over a quarter (26%) of learner drivers fail their test due to poor junction observations. If you cause another car to emergency stop, adjust their speed, or your examiner uses the dual controls to stop your car, you’ll fail instantly.

  1. Cutting corners

Incorrect road positioning at junctions is certainly grounds for failure. You should take extra caution while turning right, making sure that your car is safely positioned close enough to get a clear view of oncoming traffic without obstructing anything.

  1. Not using mirrors correctly

Examiners need to see you using both wing mirrors and your rear-view mirror, not only during manoeuvres and while moving off but also during normal driving settings. This is vital if you’re taking your test on busy inner city or town roads, which could throw surprises like motorbikes and cyclists.

  1. Failing to react to a crossing pedestrian

Putting pedestrians at risk is certain grounds for failure. As soon as you spot a pedestrian who is potentially about to cross the road, you should do your observations and adjust your speed accordingly.

  1. Being unable to control the steering properly

If you’re unable to steer your car properly, it will be obvious to the examiner. Try to keep the handling smooth and consistent, sticking to your position in the lane and completing manoeuvres with minimal need for readjustment – straightening up the car once should be OK, as long as you’re not affecting any other drivers.


  1. Not responding to traffic signs

Signs on the road are there to keep you and other road users safe. You need to be able to read and respond to traffic lights before you take your test. Obeying ‘stop’ signs is an especially important part of the test.

  1. Failing to make observations at a crossroads

Occasionally, drivers taking their test drive straight on at a crossroads junction without doing their observations. Even if you’re going straight on, you still need to stop and do the necessary checks before proceeding.

  1. Incorrect road positioning

Whether at a junction or during normal driving on the road, you must keep your car in a safe and logical position in your lane throughout your test. If you repeatedly sway or hit the curb during your test, you’ll likely fail.

  1. Losing control of the car

Manoeuvres are part of the test to check that you have full control of the car, even at slow speeds. If your clutch control is consistently poor or you cause a dangerous situation while parking, you should expect a major driver fault in the test. Stalling repeatedly could scupper your chances too.

  1. Failing to respond to traffic lights

Lastly, lights are an imperative safety feature on the roads. Never speed up for an amber light, and always come to a safe and controlled stop once the lights start to change.



You’ll only pass your driving test if you’re a good driver.

If you make a small mistake during the test, try not to dwell on it. As long as you’ve not immediately put yourself or another road user in danger, it’s likely that your error could be classed as a minor fault – and the test will continue regardless, so try to keep your cool. Good luck!