Not looking in mirrors enough revealed as the number one reason learner drivers are failing

Every year in the UK thousands of people learn to drive, and as resources continue to be stretched, the waiting list for learner drivers to take their test is forever-growing. So, making sure you’re as prepared as possible is important, otherwise you might end up wasting money and time should you fail.

So, we decided to survey our driving instructors to see what the most common mistakes are that learner drivers make which result in them failing. 

We asked 2,000 of our driving instructors which minors and/or majors their clients fail their test on the most and found that ‘a lack of mirror observations’ is the most common cause for a fail, followed by ‘poor road positioning’ and ‘frequent hesitation’. Failing to appropriately apply the handbrake and interpret road markings and signs were also common mistakes. 

We used the results to create a ‘top 15’ list of the most common reasons:

1)  A lack of mirror observations

2)  Poor road positioning 

3)  Frequent hesitation

4)  Failing to appropriately apply the handbrake 

5)  Failing to interpret road markings and signs  

6)  Moving away from a position when it isn’t safe   

7)  Failing to use the controls appropriately (headlights, wipers, indicators)

8)  Mounting the curb  

9)  Failing to safely stop at a junction  

10) Frequently stalling the car 

11) Pulling out from a side road when it’s unsafe

12) Lack of observations when moving across lanes

13) Pulling out unsafely at a junction

14) Being unable to follow a sat-nav/directional instructions

15) Lack of understanding of the components underneath the bonnet

As well as the list, we asked our driving instructors to put together a few top tips on how to ace a practical driving test – here’s what they said:

1) Always check your mirrors.

“Even if you’re driving in a straight line, it never hurts to continually check your mirrors. Not only does it show the instructor that you are constantly aware of what’s going on around you, it also makes driving much easier if you know where each car is placed around you. This becomes even more important when you’re moving lanes or coming up to a junction, and should be an ingrained habit by the time you come to do your test.”

2) Be aware of the other exits at junctions and roundabouts

“One of the biggest reasons people fail is because of repeated hesitation, and one of the best ways to combat this is to keep an eye on where each car enters the roundabout, and which direction they’re indicating to go. Obviously hesitating relates to confidence, however if you’re aware of where each car on the roundabout/junction is, you’ll feel much better about pulling out, and will likely find it much easier to pick your moment.”

3) Make sure you take it as easy and slow as you need

“Even though you can be penalised for going too slow, if the driving is starting to feel a bit too fast, or you don’t feel fully in control, never be afraid to slow down. The instructor would much rather you take it slightly slower and drive more safely, than to keep up with the traffic and drive in an unsafe fashion. Remember the basics your instructor taught you, don’t panic, and concentrate on driving safely at all times – it’s all about finding a balance between concentration and being relaxed.”

When asked ‘what should learner drivers focus on the most during their test’, the majority (88%) of driving instructors said ‘being aware of their surroundings’. 

More than two thirds (64%) also said examiners are looking for ‘confidence’ when marking a practical driving test.    

On top of this, more than three fifths (61%) said they regularly feel unsafe whilst instructing a lesson. co-founder, Kai Feller, said,

“Learning to drive is something which thousands of people go through every year, so we decided to see what the most common reasons for them failing are – and the results were insightful. Not using the mirrors properly might seem like a minor thing to fail a test on, but it’s crucial for safety and is monitored closely by examiners.

“Hopefully the guide we’ve put together with our driving instructors will shed some light on what learner drivers should focus on when preparing and taking their practical driving exam.”

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