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Finally, a few driving test myths

Driving examiners are only allowed to pass a certain number of pupils per week

This is just not true. Perhaps this myth originates with those embarrassed by failure trying to come up with a convincing reason for family and friends. If you are up to driving test standard you will pass. It’s not meant to be easy, and the fact is that over 50% of candidates are just not up to the standard required. Driving examiners don’t fail you: you fail yourself.  Fail to prepare – prepare to fail!


Driving examiners enjoy failing learner drivers

Examiners are professionals: their personal feelings do not enter into their assessment of you. Also, they have their bosses to report to – an unusual or inexplicable number of passes or failures would be looked into. It’s easier for an examiner to give good news rather than bad, and a pass means less paperwork for them.


There is a particular examiner who has tested me at the same test centre several times and failed me because he does not like me

It would be easy to blame a ‘personality clash’ for failure, but again, driving examiners are professionals. Personal feelings or prejudices are irrelevant. An examiner whose work record showed an inclination to fail, for example women or a particular ethnic group, would soon be spotted. We would all like to blame someone else for our mistakes. The only way you will eventually pass is if you take responsibility for your performance and work hard to correct your faults. Talk to the experts at Horizon if you can’t understand why you keep failing.


My dad tells me he took only 8 hours of driving tuition and passed first time 

This may have been possible in the dim and distant past or perhaps he has ‘competitive dad’ syndrome or, more likely, a dodgy memory.  When mum or dad kick off about number of lessons you’ve had or need, remind them about this little gem.

Learning to drive in the 80s

  • Reverse parking was not taught.

  • There was no theory test or hazard perception test.

  • There was no independent drive section.

  • There were no show me/tell me questions.

  • There were no or very few bus lanes.

  • There were no red routes.

  • There were no cycle lanes and cyclists were taught cycling proficiency at school.

  • Pedestrians were taught the Green X Code.

  • There were more police enforcing driving standards.

  • There were less vehicles on the road and fewer parked cars.

  • The term "road rage” hadn’t been invented

  • There were no speed humps, 20 zones, build outs or other traffic "calming" measures.

  • The car only had 4 gears

  • The brakes was rubbish.

  • There was no power steering.

  • Other drivers were more courteous & gave space and time while people were learning.

  • There were less/no mini roundabouts/double mini roundabouts.

  • Roads were better maintained with signs and line markings you could actually see, and pot holes had not been invented.

  • Supermarkets were not open 24/7 and were closed on Sundays so you could always use their car parks for some initial practice.

  • The test only lasted about 20 minutes. 


The test has grown to match the changing conditions on the roads. There are an ever-increasing number of cars on the road, more complicated traffic conditions and signs and routes to follow. There is now also the theory test, reverse parking manoeuvres and the ‘show and tell’ section. Years ago, a candidate would just be asked a few questions on the Highway Code at the end of the test.  Older drivers often acknowledge that they might have difficulty these days passing a test.  The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency estimates that a new learner driver needs a minimum of 45 hours professional training with a further 22 hours of private practice.  You can console yourself that with a more serious, complex test, you will be a much more competent driver in a shorter space of time than your father. As soon as you pass, take him out on the road and impress him!


The minimum age for driving is going up to 18

This is the oldest one in the book. However, it is true that a few years ago, a government task force recommended that learning should begin at 17 and the driving test taken at 18. However, for the age to change, it would require an Act of Parliament, which takes at least 2-3 years to become law. So no need to worry about this for a while.


If you stall the car, you will fail

Stalling happens. If it happens in a dangerous situation, say, on a roundabout, you could be in trouble. If it happens on a normal stretch of road, the important thing is how you deal with it. Panicking is not a good idea. Just take a deep breath, take your time and start from scratch again, make sure you get it right second time and it is unlikely you will be failed on that one thing alone


Setting the mirror slightly ‘off’ so the examiner can see you move your head will make it more obvious you are checking the mirror regularly

Driving Examiners are trained to look for those small eye movements and are likely to be less than impressed by a mirror set at the wrong angle. Moving your whole head all the time will just distract you from effective observation.


Examiners are more lenient if you take the driving test in your own car

This might seem like a good idea, but in fact it isn’t. The pupils who turn up in their own vehicles are more likely to be those who have had no professional tuition, or are so dangerous that the driving school has not let them use their vehicle. The examiner will be aware of this from the beginning and it is likely to make him or her nervous. In addition, the car will not have a dual braking system, which may mean the driving examiner might be inclined to intervene, verbally or physically, prematurely. Intervention by the examiner means failure, so you don’t want to increase the chances of that happening by using a car without the dual brake. You have a far better chance of passing if you use one of our cars.


Delay learning and taking the test until you are older

There is no time to lose: younger candidates outperform their seniors in passing the test. In the last set of published figures, the pass rate for 17 year old boys was 51% and for girls 48%. Pupils ten years older at 27 had pass rates of 43% and 36% respectively. At aged 47 the rates went down further to 35% and 25%. But also in that period, the oldest successful candidate was female. The DVSA say a pupil needs roughly 2 hours driving tuition for every year of life. In other words, if you are 17 you will need between 35 and 40 hours, and if you are 20 you will need at least 40 hours. All in all, it is easier and cheaper to learn at the youngest age possible. Anyone who has been ‘back to school’ or learnt a new skill knows that learning becomes more difficult as you get older


Driving Schools make you take more lessons than you need

We certainly don’t at Horizon.  It’s not in any driving school’s best interests to have lots of pupil’s taking lots of lessons with no end in sight.  We want our former pupils to spread the word about their success! We give you advice, and if you want an independent rough guide:  you are ready to take your test if you can drive for an hour without the verbal aid or assistance of your instructor. The DVSA says that most people fail simply because they take the test before they are ready.

It’s good to drive as slow as you can to show you’re being careful

Driving too slowly and being too hesitant is a big reason for people failing driving tests.  Driving slowly gives the impression that you don’t know what you’re doing and can’t handle the car. You don’t want to speed and be reckless but driving slowly will only result in you failing. You should drive as you normally do on lessons, don’t change anything. If you are constantly stopping at give way lines and letting everyone else go first all the time, then it can be dangerous and annoying to everyone around you.

Everyone has this idea that you have to drive really slowly as a learner and then when you pass you can go faster. The reason you see people stuck in queues behind learners all the time is because the other drivers are speeding so much that they keep catching up the learner up when if they stuck to the speed limit they wouldn’t. Learners don’t drive too slowly, other people drive too fast!  Examiners want to see people being positive and taking all the chances they can.  Nothing will impress an examiner more than a pupil who just gets on with it and doesn’t dither.

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