The practical driving test

Make sure you check with your instructor before booking your practical test.

Another way to be as prepared as you can be is to know what the examiners are expecting of you.  The information below is taken from the DSA document (DT1) issued to all examiners on how to conduct and how to mark the practical driving exam for learner drivers.

Car driving test requirements
Test candidates must satitsy the examiner as to their ability to carry out properly the activities and perform competently, without danger to and with due regard for other road users, the manoeuvres below.

Read in good daylight a registration plate on a car containing both letters and numbers from a distance of 20.5 metres.

Vehicle safety checks
Answer vehicle safety check questions (show me/tell me).

Preparation to drive
Check the car doors are closed. 
Adjust the seat to obtain the correct driving position. 
Adjust the mirrors and seat belt.

Technical control of the vehicle
Start the engine and move off smoothly when going ahead, at an angle and on a slope. 
Accelerate to suitable speeds whilst maintaining a straight course, including during gear changes.
Adjust speed to negotiate left or right turns at junctions, possibly in restricted spaces, whilst maintaining control of the vehicle.

Brake accuratley and stop where directed.
Perform any two of the following manoeuvres:

Reverse in a straight line and reverse right or left round a corner while keeping within the correct traffic lane;
Turn the vehicle to face the opposite way, using forward and reverse gears;
Park the vehicle (parallel, oblique or right-angle).

Behaviour in traffic
Observe road alignments, markings, signs and potential or actual risks.
Communicate with other road users using the authorised methods.
React appropriately in actual risk situations.
Comply with road traffic regulations and the instruction of the police and traffic controllers.
Move off from the kerb or a parking space.
Drive with the vehicle correctly postioned on the road, adjusting speed to traffic conditions and the line of the road.
Keep the correct distance between vehicles.
Change lanes.
Pass parked or stationary vehicles and obstacles.
Approach and cross junctions.
Turn right and left at junctions or to leave the carriageway.
Where the opportunity arises - (a) Pass oncoming vehicles, including in confined spaces (b) Overtake in various situations (c) Approach and cross level-crossings.

Minimum test time requirements
Not less than 30 minutes.  The minimum time requirement and the toal time of between 38 and 40 minutes from signing the DL25 (the examiners score sheet) to stopping the engine at the end of the test.

Below is a section taken straight out of the examiners hand book, telling them how they should treat the candidate going for the exam.  Note how they are asked to take into consideration nerves, being asked to drive in unusual circumstances and not compare them to a licence holder. 

General competence to drive
The object of the test is to ensure that the candidate is well grounded in the basic principles of safe driving, and is sufficiently practised in them to be able to show, at the time of the test, that they are a competent and considerate driver and are not a source of danger to themselves or to other road users.

Examiners should remember that, in most cases, candidates will be novices and will have had only limited driving experience, and will have been accompanied by a professional instructor or other tutor. It would therefore be unreasonable to expect them to demonstrate the degree of skill and road sense of a seasoned driver.

It must also be appreciated that many candidates will also be more nervous during the driving test than when driving with their instructor or with a friend. A pleasant outgoing approach, not only in the waiting room and on the way to the vehicle, but throughout the test is particularly important to help candidates to relax.

The score sheet - How the exam is marked.  I'm often asked by students during a lesson "would that have failed me?", "would that have been a minor?".  Here is the govenment criteria on how the driving exam is marked.  A copy of the examiners sheet is at the bottom of this page.

Definition of markings on forms;

1. (a) Eyesight - Unable to meet the requirements of the eyesight test.
1. (b) Highway code/Safety - n/a for learner drivers.

2. Controlled stop - Slow reaction/inadequate braking/loss of control.

3. Reverse/left reverse with trailer - Control: incorrect use of controls and/or inaccuracy.  Observation: lack of effective all round observation.

4. Reverse/right - Control: incorrect use of controls and/or inaccuracy.  Observation: lack of effective all round observation. 

5. Reverse park (road/car park) - Control: incorrect use of controls and/or inaccuracy.  Observation: lack of effective all round observation.

6. Turn in road -   Control: incorrect use of controls and/or inaccuracy.  Observation: lack of effective all round observation.

7. Vehicle checks - Answer safety check questions.

8. Taxi manoeuvre - n/a for learner drivers.

9. Taxi wheelchair - n/a for learner drivers.

10.  Uncouple/recouple - n/a for learner drivers.

11. Precautions - Failure to take proper precautions before starting engine.

12. Control -
Accelerator: uncontrolled or harsh use of the accelerator.
Clutch: uncontrolled use of clutch.
Gears: failure to engage appropriate gear for road and traffic conditions.  Coasting in neutral or with clutch pedal depressed.
Footbrake: late and/or harsh use of footbrake.
Parking brake: failure to apply or relase the parking brake correctly and when necessary.
Steering: erratic steering, overshooting the correct turning point when turning right or left, both hands off steering wheel or hitting the kerb.

13. Move off -
Safely: failure to take effective observation before moving off, including the correct use of signals.
Under control: inability to move off smoothly, staright ahead, at an angle, or on a gradient.

14. Use of mirrors - Failure to make effective use of the mirrors well before: signalling, changing direction, changing speed.

15. Signals -
Necessary: signal omitted. 
Correctly: incorrect or misleading signal.  Failure to cancel direction indicators.
Properly timed: signal incorrectly timed so as to be either misleading or too late to be of value.

16. Clearance/obstructions - Not allowing adequate clearance when passing parked vechiles and other obstructions.

17. Response to signs/signals -
Failure to comply with or late reaction to: traffic signs.
Road markings: e.g double white lines, box junctions, lane direction arrows.
Traffic lights: (not pedestrian controlled crossings) including failure to move off on green when correct and safe to do so.
Traffic controllers: signals given by a police officer, traffic warden, school crossing warden or other persons directing traffic.
Other road users: failure to take appropriate action on signals given by other road users.

18. Use of speed - Driving too fast for road, traffic and weather conditions.

19. Following distance - Keep a proper and safe distance from the vehicle in front when moving.  Leave a reasonable gap from the vehicle in front when stopping in lines of traffic.

20. Progress -
Appropriate speed: driving too slowly for road and traffic conditions.
Undue hesitation: being over cautious by stopping or waiting when it is safe and normal to proceed.

21. Junctions -
Approach speed: approaching junctions at a proper speed, either too fast or too slow, for whatever reason.
Observations: not taking effective observation before emerging.
Turning right: late or incorrect position before turning right, including failing to move forward into the correct position to turn at traffic lights.
Turning left: Positioning too close or too far from the kerb before turning.
Cutting corners: cutting right hand corners, particularly where the view is limited.

22. Judgement -
Overtaking: attempting to overtake unsafely or cutting in after overtaking.
Meeting: failure to show proper judgement when meeting approaching traffic.
Crossing traffic: turning right across the path of oncoming traffic.

23. Positioning -
Normal driving: incorrect positioning during normal driving, including cutting across the normal road position when going ahead at roundabouts without lane markings.
Lane discipline: Failure to maintain proper lane discipline at junctions, roundabouts with lane markings, one-way systems etc.

24. Pedestrian crossings - Failure to give precedence to pedestrians on a pedestrian corssings.  Non-compliance with lights at pedestrian crossings.

25. Position/normal stops - Normal stop not made in safe position.

26. Awareness/planning - Failure to judge what other road users are going to do and react accordingly.

27. Ancillary controls - n/a for learners.

Eco safe driving - not part of pass/fail criteria.

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