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Many myths and rumors have built up around the practical driving test which simply aren’t true. It’s easy to believe them and this can affect your confidence when it comes to taking your test.

So here, we dispel the myths and puts the facts right about what REALLY happens when you come to take your test.

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“If you stall during your test, you will fail.”

Not entirely true! By the time you’re ready to take the practical driving test, shaky clutch control should be a distant memory but the test seems to do funny things to candidates! Stalling repeatedly in traffic or stalling when entering major junction, affecting other road users, will fail the test. If you stall, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and start over again. Some candidates have even passed tests after stalling twice! Nerves can ruin a test for even the best of drivers so it’s important to not dwell on mistakes as some aren’t as bad as you may think!

“If you get take a wrong turn, the examiner will fail you.”

The driving test is designed to allow the Examiner to assess your driving ability during the course of a 30-35 minute route, taking in various road and traffic conditions. If you are asked to turn right at a junction but turn left in error, you will not incur a driving fault as long as you correctly turn left.  Even on the recently added ‘independent driving’ element of the test, you are not penalised for getting lost during the drive, so If you are not sure where you should be going, ask for help and you will get it! What the Examiner doesn’t want you to do is drive erratically or dangerously because of poor planning and anticipation e.g. not seeing your intended junction until too late, turning across traffic when not safe to do so and causing the flow of traffic to slow unnecessarily. Whatever you do on the test, do it safely and you’ll have a good chance of being successful.

“Driving Examiners are trying to fail candidates.”

The Examiner has less to do if you pass!  When you pass your test, the Examiner issues your test certificate and heads back to his office for quick cuppa before the next test. However, if you have failed your test they return to their office to write a report, detailing the reasons for the fail. Another urban legend I sometimes hear from students is that Examiners have to fail a certain amount of tests each month. While it is true that Examiners are expected to have pass rates that fall within 10% of the local average, there is nothing to suggest that the test results are compromised because of this; in fact in my experience the only person who really affects final decision is the candidate taking the test!

“My mum/dad say they only took a few lessons and passed a few weeks after turning 17.”

This statement may be true, but at a rough estimate most candidate’s parents will have taken their test 20 to 30 years ago in very different times. The volume of traffic on the roads has greatly increased since then, as have the number of complex junctions and road systems in busy urban areas. The DVSA have changed the test on a regular basis over past 30 years to reflect the more challenging situations that drivers face on modern roads, including the recently introduced independent driving element of the test and a greater skill level in hazard awareness and anticipation, needed to deal with today’s busy roads. The DVSA suggest that an average of 45 hours of tuition along with around 20 hours of private practice is required in order to reach the test standard.

“You should check your mirrors every 7 seconds.”

While checking your mirrors every 7 seconds may suit some traffic conditions, it is more important to check your mirrors when appropriate.  If you’re worrying about checking every 7 seconds, you won’t be focused on what’s happening on the road. The test assesses the candidate’s use of mirrors when signalling, before changing speed and before changing direction, all of which demonstrate good awareness and planning. The examiners can easily see when you are looking in your mirrors so you don’t have to make it too obvious. It only needs to be a glance and should not distract you from the road ahead!

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Grant Ferguson has become one of the first people to pass a new-style UK driving test, that includes following directions on a sat-nav.

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The revised test has been on trial in 20 locations across the UK since April.

Mr Ferguson, who’s 17, took his test at the Bishopbriggs driving centre in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland.

Among other more standard manoeuvres, he had to follow a route on a sat-nav for 20 minutes.

The changes are designed to “better reflect real driving”, explained a spokesman for the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency).

“Any future changes to the test would be subject to full public consultation,” he added.

Other changes being tested include:

  • replacing reversing round a corner with reversing out of a parking space
  • pulling up on the right before rejoining the flow of traffic
  • requiring candidates to show how they would operate the rear-heated screen or other vehicle safety features while driving

The DVSA hopes to complete 1,000 of the new tests, which will continue until early 2016.

So far, around 20 people have taken the new test.

Driving instructor Drew Nicol, who taught Mr Ferguson, thinks the update is a good idea.

“Lots of people have criticised the idea of using sat-navs but people are going to use them when they drive so it makes sense that we teach them to use them properly,” he told the BBC.

“I teach learners to listen to it rather than look at it or glance at it only when it is safe to do so.”

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How many driving lessons on average do you need to take before you can pass? What’s the average number of lessons people take before they take their driving test?

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Chances are, these are questions you’ve been asking yourself and others.

We’re here to tell you the answer is ‘does not matter’.

That’s right. It does not matter what the average number of lessons is, because you are not an average person. You are unique with unique skills and unique needs.

You probably have noticed when asking around for the number of average lessons you’ll get all sorts of ridiculous numbers. We’ve even heard people claiming they only needed 10 lessons to pass their driving test!

Let’s pretend for a second that they’re telling the truth (they’re not). They passed after 10 lessons (they didn’t). So what?

What has somebody else’s ability (or imagination) got to do with you?

Even still, we have a problem with the question. In fact, any decent driving instructor should whince if you ask them how many lessons you need before you can pass your test.

The reason is simple. Do you want to simply pass your test, or do you want to be a safe and confident driver?

Every year hundreds of new drivers die on the road. Imagine how much smaller the figure would be if all of those drivers had the desire to become safe drivers, rather than to just scrape a pass for their driving test with the minimum amount of lessons?

Think about it for a second. Do you want to sacrifice your life (and other people’s) for the sake of shaving off a few hours and saving £100?

There is a myth out there that driving instructors want to stretch out the number of lessons as much as possible. That if they could they’d make you have to take 100 lessons before you could take your test.

This is just untrue.

Every driving instructor has a responsibility to you. They would rather be accused of stretching out lessons than be the one who rushed through 20 lessons for a young person to pass their test only to die in a car crash months later.

That is why we’re not going to tell you what the average number of lessons it takes to pass. We don’t want to add to the idea that the point of driving lessons is to learn the bare minimum in the minimal amount of time to squeeze through a pass.

It will take you as long as it will and as many lessons as it will to be a safe and confident driver.

Remember, your safety is worth far more than any amount of money you think you’ll be saving by rushing things.

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