Taking your driving test can be a nerve-wracking experience. According to statistics, over 50% of people fail their first driving test. While failure can feel discouraging, understanding the most frequent mistakes can help you avoid them on your next attempt. You may even use resources to monitor possible driving test cancellations to get another chance quickly. This guide will walk you through the top reasons most applicants fail their driving exam so you can be better prepared to pass.
Not Checking Blind Spots
One of the most common mistakes is neglecting to check your blind spots before changing lanes or making turns. Failing to look over your shoulder and thoroughly scan your surroundings indicates you don’t have full awareness of your environment. Checking blind spots takes an extra second, but it’s absolutely necessary to change lanes safely. Get in the habit of double-checking every time you make a maneuver. Turn your head fully to get a clear view of adjacent lanes and any vehicles that may be in your blind spots.
It may be tempting to go a few miles over the speed limit, but on your driving test this will almost certainly lead to an automatic failure. Examiners are strictly monitoring your speed at all times. Stick closely to the posted speed limits or go slightly under if you’re unsure. Changing your speed erratically is also problematic. Drive at a steady, consistent pace within the legal limits.
Rolling Through Stop Signs
Failing to come to a complete stop at stop signs is an immediate test failure. Your examiner will be watching that you bring your vehicle to a full and complete stop at every stop sign. Even slightly rolling past the white line is not acceptable. Play it safe by counting to 2 in your head after coming to a stop before proceeding. Rushing through stop signs shows you don’t understand right-of-way rules, which can lead to dangerous situations.
Sharp, improper turns will result in failure as they can cause accidents or put others in danger. Cutting corners too close or turning too widely are common issues. Get a feel for your vehicle’s turning radius through practice. When turning left, keep your wheels straight while waiting for a gap in traffic. Then make the turn smoothly and end up in the correct lane. For right turns, don’t swing out into other lanes. Use your signals every time and check your mirrors and blind spots before turning.
Not Yielding to Pedestrians
Failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks is extremely dangerous. Even if there are no pedestrians currently crossing, not appearing vigilant will count against you. Approach crosswalks cautiously, letting your foot off the gas pedal. Make eye contact with any waiting pedestrians to communicate you see them. Don’t start moving forward until the crossing is completely clear. Always be prepared to stop for anyone on foot.
You’ll need to successfully park as part of your driving test. Struggling with parking, like hitting the curb or parking crookedly, will lead to failure. Practice different parking maneuvers, like parallel parking, backing into spots, and pulling straight in. Get your vehicle centered within the lines as best as possible. Make sure you don’t hit any nearby cars or objects. Take your time and don’t feel rushed. If you need to pull out and start over, that’s fine.
Not Following Right-of-Way Rules
Right-of-way rules exist so vehicles proceed safely without confusion about who should go first. Neglecting right-of-way and trying to take your turn when it’s not allowed shows examiners you don’t fully grasp these important rules. Make sure you understand right-of-way for intersections, roundabouts, merging onto roads, and more. Follow posted signs and be prepared to yield when it’s not your turn.
Failing to Use Signals
Using your turn signals properly is required on your driving test. Signaling shows your intentions to other drivers around you. Get in the habit of using them every time you change lanes or make a turn. Activate your signal well in advance – at least 100 feet before an intersection. Don’t forget to turn your signal off after completing the maneuver. Proper signaling takes practice, so remind yourself until it becomes second nature.
Not Checking Your Surroundings
Good drivers are constantly scanning their environment to identify risks and make adjustments. Only focusing straight ahead gives the impression you lack awareness. Frequently check your rearview and side mirrors so you know what’s next to and behind you. Scan ahead to see what’s coming in the distance. Identify possible hazards like cyclists, animals, or debris in the roadway. Maintaining awareness of your entire surroundings is essential for safety.
Driving Too Slowly
While speeding will cause you to automatically fail your driving test, driving too slowly comes with risks as well. Going considerably under the speed limit can frustrate other drivers and even create a traffic hazard. Make sure you stay within 5 mph of the posted speed limit, unless road conditions require slower speeds. If you feel you need to drive slower due to nerves, it may indicate you need more practice before attempting your test.
Weaving Within Your Lane
Weaving back and forth within your lane instead of driving straight shows a lack of vehicle control. Keep both hands firmly on the wheel at 10 and 2 o’clock. Focus on keeping your vehicle centered in your lane at all times. If you drift, smoothly steer yourself back into position. Consistently weaving makes it appear you’re having trouble steering properly. Movements should be minimal when keeping your car aligned.
Not Scanning Intersections
When approaching intersections, diligent scanning is required. Make a point to check left, right, and ahead for oncoming traffic before entering. Examiners want to see you analyze the full intersection before proceeding. Even if you have a green light, check that adjacent lanes are clear and that no other cars are running red lights. Intersections are high-risk areas, so your visual checks should be obvious.
Avoiding these common test mistakes will put you on the path to passing your driving exam. With practice and awareness of these key errors, you can prove to your examiner that you’re a safe, aware, and responsible driver. Be sure to get plenty of supervised driving hours beforehand. Have your supervising driver highlight any issues you need to work on. Arrive prepared and don’t let nerves get the best of you. Take your time, drive cautiously, and you’ll be ready to get your license.