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The Driving Test - FAQ

Do examiners have a quota of passes?

No they don't. The results are monitored though as a tell tale guide if the examiner is doing his own thing instead of keeping within the DSA's marking criteria.

Should you change down the gears whilst slowing down in traffic or to stop at the side of the road?

No, you don't have to. The simple rule is the gears are for going and the brakes are for slowing. Brake down to the speed you require, then go into a gear suitable for that speed. If you have stopped at the side of the road, the gear will be neutral, if in traffic with the prospect of moving almost immediately, it will be 1st gear.

Should I always signal when moving off from the side of the road?

If there is not the slightest chance of any-one being affected by you moving off, including oncoming traffic and pedestrians, there is no point in signalling.

Should you keep out of the centre painted area of road, called chevrons, if bordered by a broken line, when turning right into a side road?

So long as it is safe to drive over them you can drive into the area. That is what they are there for, to protect a vehicle turning right, from other traffic. Also, often it is almost impossible to get positioned properly in the centre, if you do keep out of them.

Will I be asked to do an emergency stop on my test ?

You have a one in three chance of being asked to do an emergency stop. This is to give the examiner more time for you to do more road tests.

What is the age you can actually learn to drive at. Can you start at 16 with a provisional licence? and then start driving at 17+?

In general, the minimum ages for driving on British roads are 16 years for invalid carriages and mopeds, 17 years for agricultural or forestry tractors, small vehicles ( that's cars) and motorcycles, 21 years for medium/large sized vehicles, minibuses and buses.

I had two examiners in the car with me on my test. Is this fair to me?

To ensure that everyone gets a fair test, the examiners are regularly assessed themselves! You might have a senior DSA officer in the back of the car during your test; he/she will be there to make sure that your examiner conducts the test in a fair and appropriate manner. Try not to worry about the 'extra' examiner in the back. They are there to make sure you have a 'fair' test.

Can anyone accompany me on the test?

You can request that a friend or your instructor be present, but they must not interfere in any way. You should bring an interpreter with you if you need one, but you must not use an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) for that purpose. Your interpreter must be 16 years or over and wear suitable seat restraints where they are available.

Can I use a car which is ‘automatic’ for the test?

Yes. However, when you pass your practical test your full driving licence will only entitle you to drive an ‘automatic’ car. It will also act as a provisional licence for a car with a manual gearbox.

How should I drive during the test?

Drive in the way that your instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don’t worry. It might be a minor mistake and may not affect your result. Your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard. You won’t fail for one minor mistake.

How long will the practical test take?

About 40 minutes. If you are taking the extended test for persons convicted of serious driving offences this will last approximately 70 minutes. Some test centres are open on a Saturday

How many Driving Lessons will I need?

This depends on how many lessons you take in a week. For example you will need fewer lessons overall if you take two or three a week. According to the DSA, it takes an average person approximately 1.5hours, for each year of their life. So if you're 17 years old, it could take 25/30 hours.

Can anyone guarantee that I will pass?

You may have heard of the guaranteed pass course that some driving schools offer. It sounds to good to be true doesn't it? Well you're right. No one can guarantee that when you take the driving test that you will automatically pass. If you are good enough you will pass. Take the driving test when you and your instructor both agree that you are ready, and then there should be no reasons for you not to pass.

I hold an American State licence. Can I exchange it for a UK licence?

If you hold a full driving licence issued outside the European Economic Area it may be possible to exchange it for an equivalent GB licence. There is a booklet (the D100) which you can get from most post offices, this booklet explains the exchange licence regulations. You can also contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (Tel: 0870 240 0009) who will tell you if you can or cannot exchange your driving licence. If you cannot exchange your licence you will need to take and pass a theory test before you can book a practical driving test.

I wish to learn to drive but I am very nervous about traffic

Don’t worry, instructors are highly trained and will help put you at your ease. Your first lessons will be conducted on very quiet roads learning the basics of car control before you are gently introduced to busier road conditions.

Who can accompany me whilst driving as a learner driver ?

Anyone who holds a current full licence and has held that licence for at least 3 years and is over the age of 21.

Can I drive on A roads with L plates?

Yes, however you are not allowed to drive on a motorway unless you have passed your practical test.

When you are waiting at the front of a queue at traffic lights do you have to wait in first gear or wait in neutral?

You can wait in first gear if you think the lights are about to change. Sometimes you can 'read' the lights by watching the changes from the other traffic lights. If you can see them about to change you can get yourself ready by selecting first gear.

I find it hard to go into second gear around roudabouts,is it okay to go around in first?

It all depends on your speed. It is no good going around the roundabout in first gear at 20 mph, the vehicle is not designed for that. If it is only a small roundabout and you have to drive around it very slow then first gear would be OK. Practice makes perfect. Ask your driving instructor for help!

What is the current waiting time for practical driving test appointments?

This depends where you live. Some areas it's only a few days and in others it can be up to 12 weeks.

If you have already taken a test, Is there a chance you will get the same examiner?

You could get the same examiner again. If you go to a large test centre with lots of examiners your chances become less. Examiners do not choose who they take on the test. This is already done for them by computer from the main booking office.

If I take a wrong direction given to me by the tester would this be a fail?

It would depend on the circumstances. If you got into the wrong lane and had to make a turn without the examiner say so, this would be a fail. However if the examiner asks to turn right and you do all the correct procedures (including a left signal) and turned left you would not fail. Concentrate on the essentials. If you make a mistake, keep calm and concentrate on your driving. The mistake may not result in failure.

Do you need to pay any additional cost on the day of the test after your initial booking fee ie insurance?

The fee on initial booking pays for the Examiner to take you on the test. If you are going to the test with your driving instructor you will have to pay for the lesson before the test and for the hire of the car for the actual test ( This is usually the cost of another lesson). If you are taking the test in your own car, you have to make sure the car is insured for you to do this. You have to sign to say the car is insured. You do not have to pay the DSA any more money.

I can't find my Theory Test pass certificate. Can I book a practical test without it?

You will need to contact the customer service team at the DSA responsible for the theory test on 0161-868-3990 and they will be able to help you further. You will need to prove to the examiner that you have passed your theory test so you will either be issued with a letter to say that you have passed or you will be told what your certificate number is.

Do I need to equip my own car with an extra rear view mirror before the test ?

Yes, Cars / vans presented for test must be a four wheeled vehicle capable of a speed of at least 100 kph and be fitted with;

  • a passenger seatbelt
  • passenger head restraint
  • an interior mirror for the examiner's use

Is it legal to place L plates on front and rear windscreens ?

Any vehicle driven by a learner must display red L plates( or D plates in Wales). Plates must conform to legal specifications and must be visible to others from the front of the vehicle and from behind. Plates have to be removed or covered when not being driven by a learner ( except driving schools). It is illegal to place anything on the windscreen which may obstruct your view. ie. a L plate in the centre of the windscreen. If you can, always place the L plate on the body of the vehicle.

What is the chance that I will have to do a reverse parking during the driving test?

Not everyone will need to do all the manoeuvres on the driving test. You have a one in three chance of doing the reverse parking

What signals (if any) should I make when carrying out the reversing / parking manoeuvres ?

You do not need to make any signal when carrying out the reverse/parking manoeuvre. You will be stopped before carrying out these manoeuvres and you should only prepare your positioning if it is safe to do so. If someone approaches you while going the parking manoeuvre and you are causing an abstraction you will need to move away and find another place. This situation could require a right signal to show you are moving off. After completing the parking manoeuvre you may need a signal to show you are moving off.

If there is a bus lane is it acceptable to use the bus lane when the time permits?

You must use the bus lane when time permits. Hundreds of candidates fail the test for not using the bus lanes at the permitted times. Read the plates on the approach to the lanes and act on the time. If you do not use the bus lane in the permitted time you will fail.

When do you use the handbrake apart from when parked the car. Do you always have to apply the handbrake when stopped on a hill?

The handbrake is used to secure the car when you park it or are stationary for more than a few moments. It is also used to help you time moving off into gaps in the traffic. You must make sure the car has stopped before applying the handbrake. I would say you should apply the handbrake if you are stopped on a hill. This will help you to then set your feet to get ready to move off again. If you park on a hill, remember to leave the car in gear and turn your wheels into the kerb. This will stop the car rolling away if the handbrake fails.

When is the practical test changing to include maintenance questions?

The Tell Me/Show Me part of the Practical test was introduced on the 1st September 2003.

How do I book a practical test?

It's best not to apply for your practical test until your Instructor tells you you are ready. There is usually a waiting time for tests. The waiting times varies from place to place but can range from a few weeks to 12 weeks.

I passed my practical test but after a recent house move I can't find my test pass certificate. There is nothing on the DVLA website. Who do I contact to get a new one?

Fill out a D1 form in the normal way, to apply for the full licence. You have to have passed your test within the last 2 years otherwise you will have to take all the tests again.
Send a covering letter with as many details as possible about time, date, location of test etc so that they can check their records. A full licence will be sent to you if all your details check-out.

What about the questions I will be asked before the practical test?

A From 1st September 2003, at the start of the practical test, the Examiner will ask the pupil a 'Tell Me' question, for example "Tell me how you would change a tyre". This would be followed by a 'Show Me' question, for example "Show me where to check the oil level". A candidate will not FAIL a Driving Test for a wrong answer however they will get ONE Driving Fault if they are wrong. This test will be included inside the existing time limit for the practical test which means less time spend out on the road.

 

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