The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) driving test for car drivers is about 40 minutes long. During this time the examiner will try to ensure that you cover a wide variety of different road conditions, from quiet low speed roads to busy high-speed roads and town or city centre driving.
There are 5 parts to the driving test:
- an eyesight check
- ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
- general driving ability
- reversing your vehicle
- independent driving
The test is the same for both manual and automatic cars.
How long the test lasts
You’ll drive for around 40 minutes.
You’ll drive for around 70 minutes if you’re taking an extended driving testbecause you’ve been banned from driving.
You’ll have to read a number plate from a distance of:
- 20 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate
- 20.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate
New-style number plates start with 2 letters followed by 2 numbers, such as AB51 ABC.
You’ll fail your driving test if you fail the eyesight check. The test will end.
‘Show me, tell me’ questions
You’ll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.
You’ll be asked the:
- ‘tell me’ question at the start of your test, before you start driving
- ‘show me’ question while you’re driving
Your general driving ability
You’ll drive in various road and traffic conditions, but not on motorways.
The examiner will give you directions that you should follow. Driving test routes aren’t published, so you can’t check them before your test.
Pulling over at the side of the road
You’ll be asked to pull over and pull away during your test, including:
- normal stops at the side of the road
- pulling out from behind a parked vehicle
- a hill start
You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop.
Reversing your vehicle
The examiner will ask you to do one of the following exercises:
- parallel park at the side of the road
- park in a parking bay – either by driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
- pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for around 2 car lengths, and rejoin the traffic
You’ll have to drive for about 20 minutes by following either:
- directions from a sat nav
- traffic signs
The examiner will tell you which you have to follow.
They’ll set the sat nav up for you. You can’t use your own sat nav.
If you can’t see traffic signs
If you can’t see a traffic sign (for example, because it’s covered by trees), the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next one.
Going off the route
The examiner won’t give you a fault for taking a wrong turning.
They’ll help you get back on the route if you do.
If you make mistakes during your test
You can carry on if you make a mistake. It might not affect your test result if it’s not serious.
The examiner will only stop your test if they think your driving is a danger to other road users
It is better to go the wrong way correctly than to go the right way incorrectly.
If at any time you are unsure what the examiner requires, do not hesitate to check what he or she wants; the examiner appreciates that you may be nervous and will be happy to repeat any instructions or clarify any instructions givenDriving
While you are driving the examiner will note any driving faults on the driving test report form.
The driving faults are categorised into minor, serious and dangerous and are recorded against the appropriate headings shown below. Each fault is denoted by a slash ‘/’ in the appropriate box.
At the end of the test the examiner will total up the number of minor driving faults under each heading and overall.
If you commit 16 or more minor driving faults you will unfortunately fail the driving test. If you commit one or more serious or dangerous driving faults you will also fail the test. Even if you feel you have failed the test you should continue to try, as the test will help you to identify where you need more practice.
Common reasons for not passing the Driving Test:
- Observation at junctions – ineffective observation and judgement
- Reverse parking – ineffective observation or lack of accuracy
- Use of mirrors – not checking or not acting on the information
- Moving away – ineffective observation or control when moving away
- Use of signals – not given, not cancelled or misleading signals
- Incorrect positioning – at roundabouts, lanes and bends
- Lack of steering control – steering too early or leaving it too late
- Inappropriate speed – travelling too slowly
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