Driving test recovery

What happens if I fail my driving test?

‘That’s the end of the test and I’m sorry you haven’t passed.’

Once the Driving Test Examiner (DTE) has uttered these morale busting words there is only one thing most candidates want to do.  Get out of the car fast and bang their heads against the nearest wall!  If the following words are even heard they are rarely listened to and hardly ever remembered in any detail.

‘To help you I’ll explain why. Here is a copy of your driving test report’

The DTE will give feedback on all serious and dangerous faults.  This should include a description of when/where the incident occurred and what happened in the eyes of the examiner.  The examiner should also explain why the incident has been marked as it was which may be either the cause or the effect of the error made by the candidate.

Extract from DVSA form DT1 – Standard Operating Procedure for Driving Tests

‘If the effect is greater than the cause then the effect is marked. For example if a candidate approached a junction too fast and emerged – then the effect would be greater than the cause and although the speed approaching the junction caused the fault only the effect would be marked.’

Confusing?  It certainly can be and many situations can also be quite subjective. Especially when you consider the different seating positions they are observed from.  It is therefore not surprising that candidates often forget, or can certainly have difficulty repeating, the debrief points when they meet up with their driving instructor.

This is why I believe the DTE should be able to say;

‘I’m really pleased your instructor is here. And I’m sure they will be able to help you further.’

How will my driving instructor know what the examiner has marked me on?

At the start of the driving test the candidate is asked;

‘Would you like your instructor to accompany you on test and be there for the result and end of test feedback.’

If you answered yes your instructor will seat in the back of the car, usually behind the driver, taking no part in the test and observe in silence.  I always ask my customers if they would like me to accompany them?  Some feel that my presence will put extra pressure on them and some feel it will help.  Although my preference is to ride along I do not attempt to persuade the candidate either way as it is their test and the individual has to follow their own feelings on the matter.

Even if I do not observe the test I certainly come over the car to listen to the debrief.  Although instructors are not trained as examiners they do have knowledge and experience of what the examiner is looking for and how they might mark certain events.  Even just sharing the same vocabulary and being familiar with common terms and phrases makes it easier to interpret what the examiner is saying and what the candidate did to attract the mark they did.

More importantly for me, although not easy to do due to me being as disappointment as the candidate,  when I listen to the debrief I listen without an emotional attachment so that I am able to recall later exactly what was said as I read through the driving test report.  By doing this I am able to identify the cause which will naturally help avoid the same or similar happening again on the next test (for their is always another test!).

In some cases, and this happened to me recently when I observed a test, the candidate will drive differently on test than they have done during lessons.  This may be due to nerves a perceived preferred driving ‘style’ or some other reason. Knowing the candidate and knowing what they are capable of the DTE’s comments can be put into perspective and if the fault is out of character I will recognise this and can communicate it which can help ease the disappointment.

So what happens if the test is failed?  If I observe the test and/or listen to the debrief I am able to identify what happened, what should have happened and what needs to happen next time.  When the dust has settled and I meet the customer again,  I treat the ailment not the symptoms. Ultimately I will try developing strategies and skills that can be applied in all aspects of driving rather than just going back to the same junction, roundabout or stretch of road where the fault occurred previously.

At the end of the next test we should be hearing;

‘That’s the end of the test and I’m pleased to say you’ve passed’

Published by


Driving Lessons in Hereford

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *