It’s completely normal for learner drivers to be nervous on the day of their driving test.  Like any test, the pressure to perform can be nerve racking?  If your friends and family know when you are going for your P’s test, this can certainly add to the nerves.  The other contributing factor when sitting your driving test, is the fact that knowing you will have the RMS testing officer sitting beside you watching your every move.

Like any assessment, preparation is key. Practice! Practice! Practice!  Like anything you do.  The more you do, the better you get.  One way to help settle your nerves is to be well-prepared.  Be confident but not cocky.  There’s a big difference.  We always strongly advise everyone to Read the Guide to the Driving Test book.  Although the driving test is the practical component, it will assist with everything that you need to know about the test and how to prepare for it.

The are a couple of big myths that we continually hear from our students.  One is that the RMS Testing officers are too hard at particular RMS Service Centres.  The other popular myth is that the driving test route is too difficult at specific areas.  It’s like this, no matter where you drive or who the testing officer is, if you are competent with your hazard perception, driving and decision making skills, then you will have a better chance of passing the driving test.

There are however, other important requirements that learner drivers must be aware about to pass and get their P’s.  This is why we advise learner drivers to invest in the services of a professional driving school so you are taught the correct procedures to drive and everything you need to know about to successfully prepare for your driving test.

The Driving Test

Considering you’ve had your Learner licence for at least 12 months, logged a minimum of 120 hours driving (including 20 hours of night driving) and turned 17 years of age, then you’re ready to go for your P1 licence.

For more info about the driving test go to Getting your P1 licence.

Common Driving Test Mistakes

We find that when people fail the driving test, it’s because of important minor errors that ultimately turn out to be major ones that cost people their test.  Simple things like observation checks (commonly known as head checks) – failing to check mirrors and blind spots.  Signal errors – either not indicating long enough or just forgetting to indicate when required to do so.

So, let’s take a closer look at common mistakes people make during their driving test.

Blind spots – Failing to Head Check

Any time you move, merge, change lanes, turn or complete a manoeuvre, you must perform a head check. Checking what are blind spots when driving your blind spots is paramount and is an essential observation skill.  If you continually fail to perform a head check during your driving test, you will not pass.  Item 19. FREQUENTLY NOT PERFORMING OBSERVATION CHECKS – Guide to the Driving Test outlines that you will incur this fail item if you repeatedly miss observation checks when required.  We conduct head checks to ensure there are no vehicles, pedestrians or any possible hazards that may result in a crash or the safety of any person.  Even when you are completing a manoeuvre, you must turn your head at least 90° or chin to shoulder and check your blind spot.  You must conduct a head check before you:

  • Move to the kerb ready to complete a manoeuvre.
  • Leave the kerb to re-join the line of traffic.
  • Diverge, merge, change lanes
  • Leave the kerb to re-join the line of traffic.
  • Turning at intersections
  • Crossing lanes within a roundabout and when exiting.
  • Completing a 3 Point Turn.
  • If conducting a reverse parallel park, you must do a head check during reversing as the front of your vehicle will swing into the lane or depending on the road, you may encroach over the centre of the roadway.

Did you know that you that when moving off at a green light at traffic lights you must turn your head and check it is safe to proceed?  If you have been stopped at a red light, once the red changes to green, you must physically turn your head and check the intersection to ensure that there are no “red light runners” from any direction. The same actions apply when moving off at railway level crossings.

Read fail item 19. FREQUENTLY NOT PERFORMING OBSERVATION CHECKS – Guide to the Driving Test for more information.

Signalling – Failing to Indicate

Did you know that you must signal for at least five (5) seconds for leaving the kerb or parked position?  Drivers must understand that if you when you signal, do so at the correct time.  If you were too signal to soon or too late, this can confuse other road users.  Leaving your indicator on can also result in a problem.  Remember, a lot of people assume and therefore may act accordingly like driving out in your path if you have signalled your intent to soon.

If you repeatedly fail to signal when legally required to so, you will not pass your test.  You must signal:

To give sufficient warning to other road users of your intentions when turning left or right.

  • For at least five seconds before leaving the kerb.
  • For at least five seconds before leaving a parking space.
  • When changing lanes, diverging or pulling over to the kerb.
  • When exiting a roundabout.

Read fail item 12. FREQUENTLY NOT SIGNALLING INTENTION – Guide to the Driving Test for more information.

Stop signs – Failing to STOP

Did you know that when you approach a stop sign, you must stop completely before reaching the actual stop line, and as close as possible to the line?

This is another common mistake we find.  Students slowly proceeding through a stop sign and failing to stop.  Stop stop-sign means stop!  If you fail to stop at a stop sign, you will fail.  You must stop the whole vehicle behind the line.  Your final stopped position must be within one (1) metre of the stop line and with no part of your vehicle over the line. This is the same for traffic lights also.

Have you ever been stopped at an intersection but found it hard to see oncoming traffic due to parked cars or other obstructions?  If your vision is affected by any of these things, you may move forward into an intersection to gain a better view.  You can only do this after stopping at the stop line correctly.  You must be able to demonstrate caution without affecting other vehicles or pedestrians when moving forward.

Read the Guide to the Driving Test for more information.

Judgement & Decision Making – Failing to Give Way When Necessary

Being able to judge distance by selecting a safe gap can be tricky for some learner drivers and for that matter manyroad-signs transparent experienced drivers.  When entering traffic, changing lanes or turning at intersections, drivers need to be able to competently make critical decisions.  We find that roundabouts are probably one of the most common places where people make bad decisions when deciding if to go or not.  Sometimes, the main reason for failing to give way to other vehicles, comes down to being hesitant and in-decisive.  This then allows for oncoming traffic to be closer to you making it unsafe to proceed.  Here are some examples of why you may fail your driving test:

  • Not giving way to any vehicle that has priority over you at an intersection.
  • Not giving way to pedestrians at marked crossings and intersections.
  • Not giving way if required when entering a traffic stream, merging or lane changing.

It comes down to a combination of the three (3) things.  Judgement, decision making and experience.

Learner drivers particularly find it difficult to judge the speed of oncoming vehicles over distance.  It’s important for learner drivers throughout their learning experience, to focus on and practice entering traffic from intersections to provide them with greater confidence in being able to judge distance and speed, decide if it’s safe to proceed and act.  Remember, oncoming vehicles must be at least three (3) seconds away from your intersection to enable a safe gap.  

Read 2. FAILING TO GIVE WAY WHEN NECESSARY- Guide to the Driving Test for more information.

Speed Management – Exceeding the Speed Limit

Exceeding the speed limit during driving tests is a common mistake.  It can be challenging for learner drivers during their test due to a combination of nerves, inexperience and lack of concentration.  Many motorists are generally more concerned about getting caught by the police for speeding.  But let’s look at it form a safety perspective.  Speed can increase your chances of being involved in a crash as well as the severity of any injuries sustained.  That’s if you survive.

Did you know that even if you are a fit and alert driver, it takes about a second or twelve (12) metres of travel for you to identify a hazard, react and brake?  And at least another 20 metres to stop.  That’s if you are only travelling at 60km/h in good conditions.  If you’re travelling at higher speeds, the stopping distance distance is even greater.

You must manage your speed to ensure that it’s safe and legal.  Exceeding the speed limit is a breach of the Road Rules and a fail of your driving test.  As the driver of a vehicle it is your responsibility to manage your speed to suit traffic, weather and road conditions.  Speed Management also focuses on your Crash Avoidance Space (CAS).  You must maintain your space to the vehicle in front which is a minimum of three (3) seconds.

If the conditions are poor such as rain, you must increase this distance to a minimum of four (4) seconds.  Remember, you must maintain at least one to two car lengths from the vehicle in front when stopped in traffic.  This is simply to reduce the risk of crashing into the car in front of you were to be hit from behind.

Speed Management (Continued) – School Zones

For some reason, many learner drivers fail their driving tests because they exceed the speed limit in school zonesschool-zone-sign during school times.  And because of school times, many learners try to avoid booking their driving tests during school times.  Why? It’s just like any other posted speed limit except the speed varies during specific times.  These days, many school zones have flashing red lights to remind people to slow down.  If you are concentrating, which you should be because you are operating a motor vehicle, then school zones shouldn’t be a problem.

If you exceed the speed limit any time during your driving test, you will fail.  These times include:

  • The 40 kilometre per hour posted speed limit at school zones during the hours
    of operation which are outlined on the sign.
  • The 40 kilometre per hour limit when passing a bus with flashing lights.
  • The learner driver speed limit – 90km/h.
  • Speed limits at road works.

Read 5. EXCEEDING THE SPEED LIMIT – Guide to the Driving Test for more information.

Action Requiring Testing Officer Intervention

If at any time during your driving test, the RMS Testing Officer has to intervene, you will fail.  You are about to gain your P’s and be on your own so you should be able to make confident decisions and drive without assistance.  If the testing officer has to provide you with any verbal or physical assistance, you will fail the driving test.  If the Testing Officer has to utilise  the dual controls in an instructor’s vehicle, you will also fail.

Read 6. ACTION REQUIRING TESTING OFFICER INTERVENTION – Guide to the Driving Test for more information.