Driver Knowledge Tests

How to fail your driving test in 20 ways

Not everyone passes their driving test the first time, and that’s because there are a large number of ways you can mess it up. If you want to read the details of how a driving exam is conducted, you can find the testing officer’s manual here.

1. Turning up with an illegal vehicle

Vehicle not roadworthy? Don’t have your documentation or registration. See ya later! Before you go for your test, check that your tyres are legal and that all your lights work.

There are other stipulations for your vehicle – check with your driving instructor.

2. Not bringing your licence with you

The first thing the testing officer will want to do is check your licence. Plus, you should always carry your licence when driving, so there’s no excuse.

3. Being obstructive with the testing officer

Testing officers are professionals, but if you’re being difficult with them, expect them to be far less than lenient with your minor errors. If you are abusive towards them, they will cancel the test. If you try to offer them a bribe, they will cancel the test. If you offer them sexy times, they will cancel the test.

If you repeatedly don’t follow their directions or refuse to do any part of the test, they will fail you.

4. Not providing a clean area for the testing officer to sit

The testing officer won’t want to get dirty clothes or to sit in someone else’s mess. Make sure your car and the seat are clean. The seatbelt must work

5. Not enough fuel

You’ll need to have enough fuel in the vehicle to complete the test. The TO won’t want to wait while you fill up and buy a pie. It’s not a good idea to have your fuel warning light on.

6. Not bringing the right type of vehicle

This more applies to heavy vehicle licences where the truck might not be sufficient capacity or the right type of truck for the licence class. Also, the vehicle must not be recording video or audio of the test.

7. Not bringing your glasses

If you need glasses to drive, you must wear them for the test.

8. Using a phone while driving

If you answer or make a call while driving, it’s an immediate fail error. You also must not receive advice from any third party from the moment you sign the score sheet

9. Disobeying traffic signals, signs or road markings

All regulatory signs must be followed. You’ll fail the test if you:

  • don’t stop at a red traffic light (behind the line), or you speed up through an yellow traffic light or you don’t stop at a yellow traffic light when it’s safe to do so
  • stop over the stop line rather than within 1m behind it
  • unnecessarily cross a continuous centre line, lane line or edge line
  • disobey lane markings such as transit lanes, compulsory turn arrows, etc
  • disobey regulatory signs such as no entry, no u-turn, keep clear, keep left and one way

10. Crashing into something or someone

Colliding with, bumping into or scraping along any object, vehicle or person, with the exception of lightly scraping your wheels against the kerb when parking, will result in a fail. This includes mounting the kerb or a traffic island or a roundabout.

11. Failing to give way when necessary

You must give way to vehicles that have priority over you at an intersection. This includes vehicles coming from your right, vehicles coming from straight ahead when you are turning right, and emergency services vehicles with lights and/or sirens activated coming from any direction.

You must give way to pedestrians at marked crossings and intersections, and if they are randomly in the road, don’t run them down.

When you’re entering a traffic stream or changing lanes, match your speed and merge like a zip, giving way to vehicles if it’s not safe to make the move.

12. Driving or manoeuvring illegally

There are a bunch of these types of opportunities for you to fail and they include:

  • Turning left from the right-hand lane (unless lane markings state you can)
  • Contravening any regulatory signs
  • Stopping on a pedestrian crossing or beyond the stop line when giving way to pedestrians
  • Using the incorrect lane to turn at a roundabout
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Exiting an intersection or roundabout into the wrong lane
  • Entering a level crossing when a train is approaching, or when there is not enough room the other side of it for your vehicle

13. Giving the testing officer reason to take control

If the testing officer has to intervene because you’re doing something dangerous or you’re about to have a crash, that’s a fail

14. Driving dangerously

There are two sides to this, the first being driving too aggressively, and the second being driving over-cautiously causing others to be frustrated around you. If you overtake unsafely, accelerate or brake aggressively or corner too quickly, it’s going to be a fail. But, if you drive too slowly, or hesitate for far too long at an intersection you’ll also fail.

15. Speeding

Even though your speedo will over-read, and you probably know this, the testing officer must not see your speed above the maximum limit. Take care around school zones and when passing school buses, and at roadworks.

16. Lacking control of your vehicle

If you cause a dangerous situation or you fail to control your vehicle, the testing officer will cancel the test. This includes

  • Rolling back more than 500mm when moving away from a standing start
  • Wheelspin
  • Coasting by pushing the clutch in or coasting in neutral
  • Weaving in the lane or crossing the lane lines
  • An item falling from your vehicle

17. Not signalling

The signalling requirements are a bit overkill and it can seem like an eternity that you have to signal for, especially when moving away from the kerb or a parking space, so just remember to count slowly to 5 after you turn your indicator on before you move out.

You must also give sufficient indication when changing lanes, diverging, pulling over the kerb, turning at an intersection, turning into a driveway, entering and/or exiting a roundabout, and overtaking.

18. Failing to park to the required standard

If the final position of your car is more than 1m from the kerb, or it’s obstructing traffic, or your wheels are over marked parking lines or you reverse too far, it’s a fail.

19. Tailgating

If you follow too close to the vehicle in front, that’s dangerous and the test will be stopped. Stay more than two seconds behind.

20. Not observing

There are observation checks that you should do when performing certain manoeuvres and these consist of checking the mirrors and over your shoulder for your blind spots. You’ll need to do this when you leave or return to the kerb, when you’re about to reverse, when you turn at an intersection, when you leave or join the road, when you change lanes or if the lanes merge or diverge and if you cross lanes on the exit of a roundabout.

At level crossings and intersections, you must turn your head to check each way to ensure it’s safe to move off.

You must also be observing ahead of you so that you can brake and manoeuvre in time.

Final tips

If you’re not feeling confident about your test, get some more lessons with a driving instructor as they will be able to do mock tests until you’re used to the process.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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