Once you’ve passed the theory test, you can move onto the driving test. For a lot of people, this can feel like one of the most difficult situation they’ve encountered. In reality, it’s a simple case of driving safely and under control for roughly 40 minutes. The trick is try not to put on a show for the Examiner. They don’t want to see you drive any differently to want you do in your normal driving lessons.
When you first arrive at the test centre, you will either park in the test centre car park, or, if there isn’t one you’ll park on a nearby road. Once you have parked the car, make your way to the waiting room with your Instructor (or supervising driver), take a seat, relax and wait for your Examiner.
At your test time, the Driving Examiner will come into the waiting room and call your name, they will then come over to you and ask you to sign a declaration to say that the car is insured for the test. If you are using a Driving School car, this won’t be a problem, but if you are using you’re own car, check with your insurance company first as some won’t allow the car to be used for a driving test.You will have also need to have lived in the UK for 185 days (roughly 6 months) in the last 12 months. They will then ask if you would like your Driving Instructor, or supervising driver to sit in the back during your test.
Having someone sat in the back is entirely your choice. Some people like the thought of a familiar face in the car, plus if it’s your Instructor, they will see your driving first hand and be able to offer advice on any areas that need improving. However, on the other side, an extra person in the car may put you off. If you’re not sure, talk it through with your Instructor and see what you prefer.
Then the Examiner will ask you to head outside to your car, and at some point before you start driving, you will be asked to read a number plate. If you cannot read it correctly from the required distance (20.5m for an old style licence plates, and 20m for the new ones), the test will be stopped. Also two vehicle safety questions will be asked. One will be ‘show me’, the other ‘tell me’. A full list of the questions and answers can be found on the vehicle safety check questions page. If one or both of the questions are answered incorrectly, a single driving fault will be noted on the test sheet.
You are allowed to take someone with you on the test, this person must be over 16 years old and cannot take any part in the test, but can be your Driving Instructor. During the test the Examiner will give you directions which you should follow if it is safe to do so. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions. During the driving test, the Examiner will ask you to carry out a reversing exercise and possibly an emergency stop. In addition to the normal driving, the Examiner will ask you to do a short period of independent driving.
Throughout the test you should drive in the way your Driving Instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don’t worry about it, it might be a less serious driving fault and may not affect your result. The Examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving.
You can make up to 15 driver faults and still pass the test (16 or more results in failure). However, if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test. A driver fault (sometimes called ‘minors’) is something that doesn’t cause immediate danger, but this could easily change to a serious if another road user is affected. A dangerous fault occurs when either the Examiner or another road user has to take action to avoid an accident. If at any time your Examiner considers you to be a danger to other road users your test will be terminated.
When you get back to the test centre, the Examiner will tell spend a few moments finishing off the test sheet. Then you will find out if you’ve passed or failed. You will be given the option for feedback on your performance from the Examiner, which would be useful for your Driving Instructor to hear.
If you pass…..
If you pass your driving test, and have a photocard driving licence, the Examiner will ask you if you want your full driving licence issued to you automatically.
If you choose to do this, the Examiner will take your old licence off you, scan the details and send them electronically direct to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You will then be given a pass certificate to prove you passed your test. DVLA will then send you your new full driving licence by post within three weeks of you passing your practical test.
If you pass your Driving Test but do not want to use this automatic service, or if you don’t have a photocard licence, you will be given a pass certificate by the examiner. On the back of the pass certificate it tells you what you need to do next. This involves sending your licence (and if needed, the appropriate fee and form) to DVLA who will then check your application and issue you with a new full licence.
If you fail…..
If things don’t go to plan, and you don’t pass, don’t worry. Listen to the feedback the Examiner gives you, and ask for your Driving Instructor to listen in too. This will give them useful information on what you need to work on. You will be given a copy of the driving test report which will show you which faults you made. You must wait at least 10 working days before taking your next test, but you can book it again straight away.
To help you with the independent section of the driving test, I’ve added this DSA video.