Frequently Asked Questions About The Driving Test
(Q) Are there any plans to raise the minimum driving age?
(A) There are absolutely no plans to change the minimum driving age. This is a rumour that keeps surfacing every few years.
(Q) Do examiners have a quota of passes?
(A) No they don’t. Their 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.
(Q) Can you use your own car for the test, and what do you have to do?
(A) Yes you can, and this is the official DSA response to this query:-
“I can confirm that you can present your own vehicle for the test however you must ensure that it is mechanically sound. All equipment by law must be fitted and working correctly. The controls, seating, equipment or any other articles in the vehicle must be arranged so that they don’t interfere with the conduct of the test. The vehicle will be deemed unsuitable for testing if the vehicle has no clear view to the rear – other than by use of the exterior mirrors, the vehicle is fitted with only a driver’s seat and it must not be loaded or partly loaded. You may wish to contact your insurance company to verify that you are covered to take the test in your vehicle as this will be asked on the day of your test. This means that your insurance company will need to send you a letter confirming you are covered to take a driving test. You will need to fit an extra rear view mirror for use by the examiner which is available from most car accessory stores. “L” plates must also be displayed on both the front and rear of the vehicle. Also, the car must have a seatbelt and headrest fitted as standard to the front passenger seat. When driving to the test centre you must have someone accompanying you, who has held their British licence in the category you are learning for more than 3 years and is also over the age of 21. If you wish for that person to accompany you on the test you must advise the examiner at the time of the test.”
(Q) Should you change down the gears whilst slowing down in traffic or to stop at the side of the road?
(A) No. Put simply, the gears are for going – 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.
(Q) Should you cross your hands whilst steering?
(A) This is not good practice. It is also possible to overdo the “feeding the wheel through the hands” technique so that too becomes cumbersome, and therefore also bad practice. Something in between will produce the best control. Crossing the hands will not cause failure in the driving test unless it is taken to extremes and the steering control is lost. Do not confuse the crossing of hands of Formula 1 drivers with ordinary driving. Their steering is so direct and highly geared (full lock with very little steering wheel movement) that it is the best technique – for them. There is a further reason in these days of air bags. If the airbag deploys whilst crossing the hands on the wheel, the arms will be driven into the chest and face with enormouse force, causing very serious injuries.
(Q) Is it permissable to allow the wheel to spin back after turning?
(A) This is allowing the car to take control instead of the driver. In many circumstances it can cause the car to not follow the desired course, or even veer off out of control. So why risk it during your driving test? If the front wheels hit a bump or hole or slippery patch whilst you are doing this, the car can swerve violently. I guarantee you won’t want it to happen again!
(Q) Should a signal always be given when moving off from the side of the road?
(A) The rule about signals in any circumstances is that they should be given “to help other road users”. 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. But if there is any sign of life anywhere near you, why risk it?
(Q) Sometimes it is difficult to sort out who has the right of way at mini roundabouts. Is there a way of doing this?
(A) The simple rule, of course, is to give way to the right. The difficulties sometimes experienced at mini roundabouts come from not realising or knowing exactly what “giving way” means, so far as the Road Traffic Act is concerned. It means you must not cause the other vehicle to “swerve or reduce speed”. A common mistake is to move into the roundabout at the same time as another vehicle coming from the road on your right. A little thought will show that even if you enter the roundabout simultaneously, the vehicle on your right immediately has priority. A vehicle coming up fast towards the roundabout in such a road, and that has nothing to give way to, will go straight through. If you start to move off even before the other vehicle has reached the roundabout, you will find yourself blocking it almost immediately, and committing an offence, so wait for such a vehicle. If both yourself and an oncoming vehicle enter the roundabout simultaneously, and “simultaneous” is important, to turn right it should be okay for both to proceed. There should be no obstruction as you both go behind each other.
(Q) How do you know if a candidate is using the mirrors?
(A) In a very few cases, it can be difficult. However, close observation will usually show.If this seems to indicate the mirrors are not being used, a “driving fault” may be marked each time, towards the fifteen, beyond which means a fail, with others on the sheet. So why push your luck?
(Q) Is it allowed to do the manoeuvres without using the accelerator?
(A) This is perfectly okay provided there is no loss of control but requires a modern vehicle with an Engine Management Unit (EMU) that will control the tick-over for you. Without an EMU it will not be possible.
(Q) What do you think about a candidate moving their head to show they are using the mirrors?
(A) This is un-necessary – see above.
(Q) Does the way a candidate dresses or behaves affect the outcome of a test?
(A) Dress – not the slightest effect, male or female, smart or not.
Behaviour – can effect a test, but only because it usually shows up in the driving in the way other road users are handled. Also, an examiner is under no obligation to be nice to someone who is not being nice to them. Why upset someone who at that moment might have your future in their hands?
(Q)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?
(A)No, so long as it is safe to drive over them. 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.
(Q)How should you deal with other vehicles that come up whilst you are doing a manoeuvre?
(A)Other cars appearing on the scene is different for each manoeuvre.
1). Turn in the road. Most cars will wait. If they stop, just continue with the manoeuvre in an unhurried manner, keeping an eye on them just in case. Best not to wave them on.
2). Reverse park. It is an unwritten rule to wait for cars trying to reverse park. If a car comes up, either direction, cease the manoeuvre long enough to see if this is their intention. Don’t wave them on this time, they should be able to see if it is clear to go, if they want to, and if there is room. They might try to squeeze through at any time during the manoeuvre, so keep an eye on them.
3). Corner reverse. This is different. If commencing in a busy road, it is not practicable to wait until nothing is coming from behind, you would be there all day. Proceed in short bits to the side road, or if extremely busy, do it continuously, but very slowly. It helps if you are able to do this manoeuvre quite briskly, but safely of course, then you can perhaps get this first part done in between traffic. Do not do the turn into the side road if anything is going to be inconvenienced by your front swinging out wide. If the main road is busy, you have just got to wait at this point.
Rules change while you are turning, or once you have turned. If a car comes up behind, don’t wave them by, and in any case you are bound in law to give way to it. Sometimes the car will stop well short. It has then given up its right of way and you should proceed, keeping an eye on it in case it moves forward or comes round you as you progress. If it comes right up to you to start with or at any time, you must pull forward to the starting position, and begin again. This would require putting the seat belt on again if you had removed it.
Musn’t give signals to other road users? Quite right in most circumstances, especially pedestrians. The turn in the road is supposed to be different though. However, some Senior examiners do not see it this way and may penalise this, and require their examiners to do the same. It should be the same at all Centres, but I am sorry to say this happens. Be guided by your instructor in this, he knows the Test Centre.
(Q)Should you give signals regardless, for pulling out round parked cars?
(A)You do not need to signal before going round parked vehicles as a general rule, and certainly not if there is nothing behind you, unless you think another road user might benefit from the signal, such as a pedestrian about to cross, and it can be misleading sometimes. If you are looking well ahead, as you should be, you will see the obstruction in good time, and should immediately check mirrors to see what is behind you. A following vehicle expects you to go round it so a signal is un-necessary. You should, of course, start pulling out in good time, making it a gentle smooth manoeuvre, not suddenly in and out at the last moment. You would go down for that and the correct marking would be under steering. If parked vehicles are close enough, you should stay out and not, again, go in and out all the time.
For the rare occasions that a signal is necessary, you will know without having to be told, at least I hope so anyway! These will be if you think a following vehicle is unable to see the obstruction for some reason, or if the obstruction is in a particularly dangerous place, like on double yellow lines or a clearway, and perhaps on a bend, or at any time you think a following vehicle might not expect you to be pulling out. If a following car seems to be preparing to overtake you, but has not actually committed itself yet, then a signal is necessary because the other driver is obviously not concentrating and needs to be alerted to the danger ahead. If the following car is committed to an overtake, then it is better to yield by slowing sufficiently to let it by without yourself having to actually stop for the obstruction. This is very rare though, and you musn’t do this except when really necessary, like to avoid an accident due to the other driver’s foolishness. Some candidates do it all the time, for anything following, and they go down for lack of progress.
Bear in mind too, in all this, that if safe you should be doing the legal limit or very close to it, and technically therefore no-one should be trying to pass you. Yes, I know, don’t laugh!! Hardly anyone keeps to the limits these days, but it means the extra speed of an overtaking vehicle is illegal, and they have therefore themselves created a situation that is not without danger. Just make sure you do the right thing, as above, and let the others look after themselves.