Driving Test Faults Explained

When you’re preparing to take your practical driving test, knowing the skills you’ll need to display is only one half of the story. You’ll also need to know the behaviours and actions to avoid. These are known as driving test faults.

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the different types of fault, including those which result in an automatic fail. Once you know what not to do, you’ll be able to focus on honing your abilities and steering clear of any mishaps.

Let’s take a closer look!

What is a fault?

Put simply, a fault refers to any incidence where your driving abilities don’t meet the standards expected by your examiner. This can be anything from forgetting to check your mirrors before setting off through to causing a collision. Faults fall into one of the three following brackets:

– Dangerous faults — something that causes danger to you, the examiner, the public or property

– Serious faults — something that had the potential to cause danger

– Driving faults — something that was not potentially dangerous, but which could have become a serious fault if repeated

The first two of these categories, dangerous and serious faults, are often informally called ‘majors’. Committing even one of these faults will result in you instantly failing your driving test. It’s therefore crucial that you avoid these.

The last category, driving faults, are often known as ‘minors’. Unlike the other categories of fault, you won’t fail for a single minor. However, if you rack up more than 15 driving faults, you’ll fail your test. Additionally, if you commit the same type of driving fault multiple times, your examiner may class this as a serious fault, resulting in a fail.

What could I get a fault for?

Though useful categories to be aware of, ‘major’ and ‘minor’ faults refer only to how dangerous your action was. What is more important to learn is what you can earn a fault for. As it turns out, however, this list is quite extensive.

Take a look at the driving test app, and you’ll notice dozens of different reasons you could receive a fault! Some of the most common, though, include the following:

– Failing to use proper observation at junctions — e.g., lack of awareness of an upcoming junction; failing to use Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre

– Not checking mirrors when changing direction — e.g., failing to check at a left turn

– Inadequate control over steering — e.g., not having your hands on the wheel

– Faults relating to turning right at junctions — e.g., pulling into the junction too quickly; incorrect positioning

– Not moving off safely — e.g., failing to use the MSM routine; not checking your blind spot before setting off

In fact, all of the above were amongst the top reasons why people failed their test in 2018/19. Of course, not every fault in these categories will result in a fail, but knowing where other candidates came unstuck can help to stop you from making the same mistakes.

If I make a driving test fault, will my examiner stop the test early?

We’ve now covered the consequences of racking up too many faults during your driving test. This may, however, leave you wondering: will my examiner stop my test? The answer to this is technically a yes—but only in rare circumstances.

If you fail your eyesight test, for example, your practical will end immediately. In fact, your licence will be revoked, meaning you’ll need to apply for a new provisional licence and start from square one. Outside of this, though, candidates would need to commit extreme faults in order for the examiner to stop the test.

These would include driving which poses a threat to either the occupants of your car or other road users. We’ve created a full guide to the reasons why your examiner may stop your test early—but suffice to say, these won’t apply to the vast majority of candidates. So, even if you think you have failed, just keep going!