Driving test faults
Pass rate remains stubbornly below 50% with common driving faults to blame
864,522 majors were committed. The most common major fault by far is Junctions and observation.
Specifically, this refers to inadequate observations at junctions. Drivers must ensure they properly observe traffic at junctions before emerging, with an accurate awareness of other road users.
2. Mirrors-change direction
|All data to date – most majors|
|1||Junctions – observation||864,522|
|2||Mirrors – change direction||681,977|
|3||Control – steering||363,224|
|4||Junctions – turning right||354,299|
|5||Move off – safely||353,477|
|6||Response to signs – traffic lights||334,382|
|7||Positioning – normal driving||303,260|
|8||Response to signs – traffic signs||299,893|
|9||Move off – control||291,580|
|10||Response to signs – road markings||290,953|
Since 2018, there have been 7.46 million recorded minor faults in UK driving tests. Minors won’t necessarily make you fail your test, but if you get over 15 minors, you won’t pass. Also, if you make 3 minors for the same mistake, you’ll most likely end up with a serious fault (major) in that error, again leading to a failure.
Move off – safely
The most common minor over the last 5 years is Move off – safely with 3,473,692 minors committed. Failing to move off safely 3 times during your test will result in a failure.
Moving off safely requires the candidate to be aware of other vehicles already on the road that have the right of way. Checking mirrors and blind spots is a must, as well as signalling before pulling out.
The second most common minor with 3,359,605 committed in the last five years.
This minor fault can be for simply not following an appropriate speed while driving, driving too fast or too slow for the speed limit and conditions.
Maintaining appropriate speed is important, but suited to the conditions and potential hazards. Driving too slow can be a sign a candidate is unsure of the correct or lack safe confidence. Exceeding the speed limit can be a major fault and an instant fail.
Maintain progress – undue hesitation
With 3,033,495 minors in the last five years, it is one of the most common minors committed.
This happens if you hesitate for too long when performing any task. This can be taking too long:
- At roundabouts and junctions
- When moving off from stationary
- Stopping and moving away from traffic lights and crossings
Should a candidate hesitate so long that it causes another road user to take action, it can land them a serious or dangerous fault and a test failure. For example, someone having to take avoiding action or sounding their horn at a candidate due to their hesitation.
|All data to date – most minors|
|1||Move off – safely||3,473,692|
|2||Maintain progress – speed||3,359,605|
|3||Maintain progress – undue hesitation||3,033,495|
|4||Control – steering||3,001,146|
|5||Move off – control||2,626,785|
|6||Mirrors – signalling||2,058,366|
|7||Junctions – observation||1,763,985|
|8||Mirrors – change direction||1,554,788|
|9||Control – gears||1,512,315|
|10||Mirrors – change speed||1,419,034|
The most common majors so far in 2023
|2023, as of 25 September|
|Manoeuvre||Serious faults||Dangerous faults||“Major”|
|Junctions – observation||96,386||17,971||114,357|
|Mirrors – change direction||76,194||12,122||88,316|
|Move off – safely||48,036||2,860||50,896|
|Junctions – turning right||46,173||1,206||47,379|
|Response to signs – traffic lights||43,970||1,897||45,867|
|Control – steering||37,706||7,855||45,561|
|Response to signs – traffic signs||41,959||927||42,886|
|Response to signs – road markings||38,575||876||39,451|
|Positioning – normal driving||37,193||1,534||38,727|
|Reverse park – Control||35,428||1,682||37,110|
The most common minors so far in 2023
|2023, as of 25th September|
|Move off – safely||446,137||446,137|
|Maintain progress – speed||411,928||411,928|
|Maintain progress – undue hesitation||371,966||371,966|
|Control – steering||364,521||364,521|
|Move off – control||309,737||309,737|
|Mirrors – signalling||235,925||235,925|
|Forward Park cont||220,758||220,758|
|Junctions – observation||219,166||219,166|
|Reverse park – Control||189,397||189,397|
|Mirrors – change speed||175,394||175,394|
Changes since 2018
Some faults have unduly increased in frequency over the last few years.
For reference, 1.47% fewer tests were completed in 2022 compared to 2018. There has also been an 11% reduction in majors committed over 2022 compared to 2018, meaning learner drivers generally commit fewer majors in their tests. But which majors have increased since 2018?
Junctions – cutting corners – 23.79% increase since 2018
It is the major that has increased the most in frequency since 2018. In 2022, 1 in every 236 tests conducted over the year included a major fault for this. Back in 2018, this was just 1 in 292.
Position – normal stops – 23.19% increase since 2018
The second major with the highest increase in frequency. In 2018, 1 in 129 tests suffered a major fault for this. In 2022, this was 1 in 159- a 23.19% increase.
This fault occurs when learners are parking up on the left. When parking, they need to take a safe and legal position and park without touching the pavement. They are likely get a minor if hitting or scraping the curb, but a major if you mount the pavement.
Maintain progress – speed – 7.17% increase since 2018
This is a growing cause of major faults for UK learners. 1 in 30 tests in 2022 had major faults for this, compared to 1 in 32 in 2018.
The most common reasonsinclude:
- Not emerging from a junction when it’s safe to do so
- Driving too slow and holding up following traffic
- Driving well below the speed limit on clear roads
- Waiting unnecessarily for another road user to pass when they’ve given way to you
|Manoeuvre||Majors per 10,000 tests||Change|
|1||Junctions – cutting corners||34.20||42.33||23.79%|
|2||Position – normal stops||62.96||77.56||23.19%|
|3||Maintain progress – speed||309.07||331.21||7.17%|
|4||Response to signs – traffic signs||382.21||407.88||6.72%|
|5||Move off – safely||454.59||482.94||6.24%|
|6||Use of speed||316.66||332.86||5.11%|
|7||Reverse park – Observations||224.21||228.88||2.08%|
|9||Junctions – turning left||45.95||45.19||-1.66%|
|10||Junctions – turning right||472.67||462.13||-2.23%|
And for Minors since 2018
Not only has the number of total majors reduced as a percentage of all tests, but so has the number of minors. There was a 13.35% reduction in the number of minors recorded in 2022 compared to those recorded in 2018.
As you may expect, certain minors have become more common today compared to 5 years ago.
Response to signs – traffic controllers – 110.53% increase since 2018
In 2018, only 3.97 of these minors were recorded per 10,000 tests. Over 2022, there were 8.36.
This is when learner drivers fail to recognise and/or react to road signs.
Forward park control – 26.22% increase since 2018
Minors relating to the control of the car while forward parking have increased by 26.22% from 2018 to 2022.
Some of the most common faults for this minor include not positioning the vehicle within the lines and not attempting to correct this position. You’re allowed to correct it if it’s initially outside the lines. Steering too closely to a vehicle in the next bay will also be a minor.
Vehicle checks – 23.23% increase since 2018
Commonly called ‘show me, tell me’ questions, this has seen a 23.23% increase, rising from 1,110 minors per 10,000 tests in 2018 to 1,368 over 2022. Getting these questions wrong or losing control of your vehicle during the ‘show me’ question can lead to faults.
|Manoeuvre||Minors per 10,000 tests||Change|
|1||Response to signs – traffic controllers||3.97||8.36||110.53%|
|2||Forward Park control||730.77||922.37||26.22%|
|4||Junctions – cutting corners||239.92||275.21||14.71%|
|5||Forward Park observation||313.78||346.63||10.47%|
|6||Position – normal stops||1,480.25||1,590.69||7.46%|
|7||Reverse park – Control||1,605.38||1,710.24||6.53%|
|8||Response to signs – traffic signs||398.52||413.59||3.78%|
|9||Reverse park – Observations||797.29||803.16||0.74%|
|10||Junctions – turning left||220.21||214.92||-2.40%|