Pass Your Driving Test

When it comes to taking your driving test it is fair to say that every last one of us is, or was, nervous. That includes your driving instructor! It is like taking any exam: there is always a certain amount of uncertainty, no matter how well you have prepared.

The secret, of course, is to get in plenty of practice before you take the test so that all of the things that you need to remember are, as far as possible, second nature. Not only do you need your driving lessons with your instructor, but the more time you can put in practising with family or friends the better your chances of a first time pass on the big day. In addition to your lessons of perhaps 50 hours or so (although at The UK Driving Centre our highly trained instructors can usually get our pupils pass-ready in around 30 hours) you should also aim to have at least 20 hours of additional practice, and preferably more.

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What To Do On The Day

The first thing is your cockpit drill – making sure that your seat is in the right position, getting your mirrors set correctly, and that sort of thing. In other words, ensuring that the car is comfortable for you to operate. If you are using our car this will have been taken care of before you arrive at the test centre, but if using your own car they are things you need to check.

The first two things that the examiner will ask, after checking your eyesight with the ability to read a number plate at 20 metres, are called “Show me, tell me”. So you may be asked to show how you would top up the battery or check the oil, and say how you would use your lights driving in fog.

Obviously you need to be perfectly comfortable with using all of the controls and switches in the car. On the day of your test it could be raining which will require you to use the windscreen wipers, and perhaps switch them to a delayed wipe if the rain is only slight. It could suddenly turn misty so you will need to use fog lights if the car is fitted with them, or dipped headlights if not.

 

Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre

Once you start driving, you will be called upon to start and stop on several occasions. You need to remember the MSM procedure – Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre. Check the mirrors before you do anything, signal, and only then move off.

You then need to keep a safe position on the road, but at the same time be aware of the position of other vehicles and be prepared to take action if necessary. Not only do you have to check your mirrors before taking any action, you also need to be aware of your blind spots and check those also.

 

Signalling Lets All Road Users Know Your Intentions

Your signalling lets not only other drivers but all road users know your intentions. This includes cyclists, or pedestrians who may wish to cross the road and will not know that you are about to move away from a parking bay unless you signal.

You always need to expect the unexpected, such as rounding a corner only to find a large lorry attempting to back into a tight driveway and taking up all the road while doing so. I well remember a police driver friend who says that they were taught to allow for a spaceship landing on the motorway. When he said that it was pretty unlikely the answer was “Yes. But it COULD happen”.

You will need to demonstrate to the examiner that you are aware of potential hazards, can anticipate what other drivers might do, and are aware of things such as “school out” time when children might run out of the school gates into the road.

It goes without saying that you must obey the speed limits. However, you can also be penalised for driving too slowly if the examiner considers that you are holding up other drivers.

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Roundabout Driving

At roundabouts you have to get into the correct lane and use the appropriate signalling. If you are turning left or going straight ahead you use the left lane and if you are turning right or turning 180º you use the right hand lane. When turning left you indicate as you approach the roundabout. If going straight ahead there is no need to indicate, but some drivers will indicate left just before they get to the exit. If turning right you indicate right and then left just before reaching the exit. Some roundabouts have five or more exits, so the rule is to indicate left just before you reach the exit you require. As you approach the roundabout remember that you give way to traffic on the roundabout, and remember also that some drivers do not indicate at all. If in doubt, stop.

 

Pedestrians

Be very aware of pedestrian crossings. Pedestrians do not have to pass a test and sometimes there is no knowing what they intend to do. Pedestrian safety is paramount.

Driving on dual carriageways can be much the same as driving on a motorway, as many have speed limits of 70 mph and there may be three lanes on some of them. You need to know how to enter and exit a dual carriageway safely with correct use of indicators and mirrors.

Obviously you need to be experienced at reversing around corners, reversing into a parking bay, carrying out a three point turn in the road, and hill starts.

You will usually be required to perform an emergency stop. Remember to use the handbrake after the stop and put the gear lever into neutral.

You will also need to know how to drive in all weather conditions since you have no idea what sort of weather you will get on the day. It could be sunny, and then you run into a thunderstorm.

Finally, make sure that you are completely familiar with the Highway Code. Changes are made to it from time to time, so it is as well to ensure that you have the latest version.