Your driving test - what to expect.
In a previous post, I went through some common questions about what's expected on your driving test. Here's some more about routine test elements and other myth-busters for good measure.
Q: What's with all this 'stopping and moving off' my instructor gets me to do?!
A: In the test, the Driving Examiner (DE) needs to be sure that your routines for everything you do are safe and consistent. So, on your test you'll be asked to pull over in a 'safe place' and then move off again. The 'safe place' bit means not covering driveways (unless DE says it's ok), not on bus stops or close to junctions etc.. After pulling over near to the left kerb, you should apply the handbrake and select neutral. The DE will then say 'thank you, drive on when you're ready'. If you're feeling the pressure, take your time. If you've brought water with you, have a sip. Rushing will only lead to mistakes, so it pays to get yourself settled whenever you get the chance. There are 3 types of stop and move off: on a level road - easiest of the three. Just make sure to check blind spots if required when moving off; on a hill - this ensures that you have the necessary clutch control to prevent the car from rolling back; the angled start - you'll be asked to pull up behind a car and 'leave yourself enough space to move off'. This is testing the extra observations needed to look beyond the parked car when moving off, and also the extra steering needed to go around it safely.
Q: If I miss a blind spot check on a stop and move off, will I fail?
A: Not necessarily. It's a good idea to check blind spots by habit BUT, it only counts against you if there are side roads or driveways in your blind spot area. You must make 'effective observations' as they're called, but these can be brief, as long as you've ensured you've looked for and SEEN any hazards (and acted on them, of course!).
Q: Can I fail because the examiner has reached his pass quota?
A: Myths like this have come about from candidates that feel they have failed unjustly. DEs are very well trained to look for faults that a driver makes, and precisely weigh up the faults with a very 'real-world' view. If no mistakes are made, nothing can be marked. For instance, if you fail to use your left mirror when turning left, if there is no danger, they do not intervene, but is it a serious fault. The DE is classed as an observer rather than a supervisor, so will only step in if there is risk of injury or damage to property. If the driver hasn't looked in the left mirror, he cannot know if it's safe. In that situation, imagine a cyclist was alongside at that moment, there would be a real risk of injury or worse. This would result in a test fail. It's no use saying '...but I did look' either. The DE looks at your eyes, so knows exactly when and where you are looking. There is no quota - if you pass you did enough right. If you fail you either did a lot of things wrong, or one or more things very wrong! In either case, the DE gives you a summary of the test at the end, so any faults highlighted can be worked on.
Q: How many faults can I make and still pass?
A: You'll hear the term 'minors' used a lot. The correct term for these is driver faults (or DFs). You can rack up 15 of these and still pass. The other two fault classes are serious and dangerous. Just one of these results in a fail.
If you have any other questions, I'll be happy to answer them on your lessons! Start your journey...you know what to do...