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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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These tips should help make passing your driving test easier.

1. Practice. A lot

The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency suggests that learners, on average, need about 45 hours of professional training plus 22 hours of private practice. Make sure you learn with an instructor you feel comfortable with, from a reputable driving school – and practise with an experienced friend or relative to hone your skills.

2. Warm up

Book a lesson near the test centre just before your test appointment time, so you don’t drive ‘cold’ when you have to get into the car with the examiner. It can also helps to scope out any obstructions such as potholes, local congestion or new roadworks, so you’re prepared if you encounter them during the test.

3. Relax

It’s perfectly normal to be nervous about taking your driving test, so take the pressure off yourself by not telling many people beforehand.

On the day, take deep breaths, count to 10 and exhale just before entering the test centre. Do this a few times and you should find yourself calming down and ready to drive.

4. Think positively

Before you enter the test centre, believe that you’re going to pass. Try some creative visualisation, which involves closing your eyes and imagining yourself driving well over the route, making flawless manoeuvres and seeing all the potential hazards.

5. Be comfortable in your car

Make sure you sit your test in a car you’ve driven regularly – either your instructor’s or the car you use for practising.

You need to feel completely comfortable with controls and, even more importantly, the biting point of the clutch, which will allow you to move off and change gears smoothly.

6. Know the route

Do your homework and make sure you know the area around the test centre and all the possible routes you’ll be driving. Drive them as often as possible with your instructor and, if possible, when practising privately.

It’s also important to be comfortable driving different on as many different types of road as possible, so you’re ready for the independent driving section of the test and, more importantly, life after passing your test.

7. Avoid the usual mistakes

Common driving test pitfalls include not checking mirrors sufficiently, inadequate observation when reverse parking or moving away, poor positioning at junctions and roundabouts, and inappropriate speed.

Discover these bad habits when you learn to drive to help you avoid them.

8. Be ready for anything

When learning, try to drive at different times of day, in sunny weather and the wet – and, if possible, in slippery or icy conditions so you’re prepared for any eventuality during your test.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask

If, at any time during the test, you don’t understand what the examiner has asked you to do, don’t be afraid to ask him or her to repeat the instruction.

10. Keep your eyes on the road

Whatever you do, don’t look at the examiner during the test or try to look at their notes and work out how well you’re doing.

Keep your eyes on the road, making full use of your mirrors and concentrate on what’s going on around you.

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It’s often imagined that young drivers have too much confidence and rush to complete their driver training in their eagerness to get on the roads.

However, a recent survey, taken from a sample of 2,000 drivers between the ages of 18 and 30, paints a different picture, with 62% of young drivers in favour of a minimum learning period.

Statistics show that many young drivers feel unequipped to drive safely and competently after passing their test, and many will go out of their way to avoid driving situations where they lack confidence.

Young Driver Survey Data

The report gives a unique insight into the opinions of Britain’s young drivers and shows that many of them feel totally unprepared for driving after passing their test. Yet young drivers themselves are rarely consulted about their driving experiences.

Although the driving test has been improved to better reflect real-life conditions on the roads, almost half of newly qualified drivers (48%) felt unprepared for motorway driving and around one in three (29%) were nervous about night-time driving and driving alone after passing their test.

Situations that young drivers admitting avoiding included motorway driving, driving in city centres and turning right at busy junctions.

In the survey, published in August 2013, one in four drivers who had had an accident believed that it might have been avoided if they had spent longer learning to drive. Despite this, amongst the young people consulted in the survey, one in five took less than three months to pass their driving test and 50% took less than six months to pass.

Written by: Janet Fisher

Dagenham

 

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