When you take your driving test it can all seem quite different from your lessons. There is a stranger sitting next to you who behaves in a totally different manner to anyone else who has yet sat with you in the passenger seat. They do not help or coach you, chit-chat or give you encouraging praise. They just tell you what to do and when to do it and that’s it. A little bit awe-inspiring.
To add to that mystique, this stranger is equipped with a clip board which they will refer to every now and again and make a mark for no apparent reason. Presumably they are referring to some kind of assessment form but was that mark a positive or a negative? And if the latter, how do you know if you have made too many mistakes?
The agenda for the driving test examiner
The agenda for the driving test examiner is to assess your knowledge and skills in order to determine whether you are capable and safe to take the vehicle out on your own. To achieve that, the examiner must be objective and treat each candidate exactly the same. To get an idea of how you deal with car controls and unforeseen hazards (when you are on your own) he or she cannot coach, or give hints, and may only intervene when there is significant danger. Therefore, their manner may seem a little distanced or unfriendly but it is simply a means to an end.
The examiner will be assessing you on areas such as car control, manoeuvres, responding to road signs and markings, use of speed, maintaining progress on the road, judgement, awareness and planning. In the majority of the factors listed, the examiner will be assessing as you drive (hence that marking for no apparent reason) – sometimes he will ask you to complete a special manoeuvre.
The full list of areas he will mark you on is as follows:
- Use of car controls such as gear stick, pedals, handbrake and steering
- An understanding of all ancillary controls in the car
- Starting the car safely and without assistance
- Moving away safely after being parked
- The learner driver must show good judgement and correct responses when dealing with other road users and procedures such as overtaking
- Correct road positioning
- Correct responses when meeting, overtaking and crossing the paths of other vehicles
- Proper procedures at roundabouts
- Correct positioning when passing parked cars
- Execute an emergency stop safely
- Reversing to the left or right
- Execute a turn in the road
- Clutch control (hill start)
- Parallel parking
- Reversing around a corner
- Correct use of mirrors
- Signalling according to the highway code
- Appropriate response to signs and signals
- Appropriate response to road markings
- Speed awareness and control
- Maintain a safe distance behind the car in front
- Maintain progress and avoid undue hesitation
- Correct positioning at junctions
- Clear observation at junctions
- Capable of independent driving
- Safe and correct procedures at pedestrian crossings
- Capable of finding a safe and legal place to stop
- The ability to plan ahead when taking other road users into account
During your practical driving test the examiners will be marking down any faults on the driving test report form on their clip board. Each fault (if there are any!) will be categorised into three areas: minor; serious or dangerous. If you get a glimpse of the form you will see that the boxes are very small on the report – the examiner just makes a “/” to show a fault.
At the end of your driving test the examiner will total the number of faults you have made. If you have 16 or more minor faults you have unfortunately failed the test. If you commit 1 or more serious or dangerous faults you will also fail the test. A serious or dangerous fault is where your actions may put other road users at risk. It should be taken into consideration that a minor fault can become a serious fault if other road users are placed in danger.
Do not be put off by the fact that the examiner appears to be marking a fault. It is expected you will not be perfect and 16 is a long way to go. When you have that passing score and you are ready to take to the road on your own, check out our new driver insurance quotes. We look forward to adding you to our newly qualifieds!