Login Menu

The eight surprising reasons why learners are failing their driving tests


Learners have been told the eight most surprising reasons why they could fail a driving test, as the latest data shows less than half are passing.

Motoring experts at Quotezone.co.uk have researched some of the most unexpected reasons why Brits are struggling to get their licence, and are encouraging learners to add extra preparations to their driving practice.

Experienced drivers may find these reasons for failure truly bizarre, as most of us make these so-called mistakes every time we get behind the wheel – but on the driving test there is no excuse for errors.

The latest data shows that less than 50% of learner drivers are passing their test, so it’s now more important than ever to be really ready for the exam.*

Young drivers need to ensure they are fully prepared for the driving test and understand all the rules of the road.

With the DVSA backlog causing some learners to wait up to six months for a shot at taking their test, understanding all of the reasons for potential failure is crucial.**

Quotezone.co.uk’s eight surprising reasons for failing a driving test:

  1. Changing lanes on a roundabout

It can be easy to accidentally get into the wrong lane whilst approaching a big roundabout and only notice when it’s too late. If this happens, it’s crucial to stay in the wrong lane and go around the roundabout again, as changing lanes whilst on the roundabout is dangerous and is against the rules of the road.

  1. Driving over a mini roundabout

It might be tempting to drive over the small white circle marking a mini roundabout – but the Highway Code clearly states that all vehicles must drive around the central markings. Except for large vehicles which are physically incapable of driving around it.

  1. Not using the bus lane

As the natural driving position is in the left-hand lane, a driving test can quickly result in a fail if the learner does not use the correct lane. This includes bus lanes; when outside the hours of operation, this far left lane must be used as a normal carriageway. Failing to look at the road signs correctly will mean not passing the test, despite experienced drivers often not knowing if they should be using the bus lane.

  1. Driving too slowly

It’s an obvious mistake that speeding whilst sitting the driving test will result in a fail – but learners can also fail for driving too slowly. This especially happens on dual carriageways where pupils fail to get up to the speed limit fast enough or fail to match the speed of other vehicles when merging from the slip lane.

  1. Not operating switches quickly enough

Learners must remember not to get so caught up in the driving test that they forget to operate the necessary switches when the weather changes. It is not the examiner’s responsibility to inform the pupil that they should turn on their headlights or windscreen wipers – any examiner interruption will result in a fail. Equally, learners could fail if they don’t operate the necessary switch quick enough thus compromising vision and road safety.

  1. Forcing vehicles to slow down or speed up 

Although this seems to be a common occurrence on the roads amongst experienced drivers, if a learner on their test causes another road user to take evasive action, they’ll end up with a fail. For example, if an oncoming vehicle had to slow down slightly as the learner merged onto a roundabout or from a junction.

  1. Thanking other drivers

It’s seen every day on UK roads but if a learner puts their hand up to say thank you, they’ll most likely be hit with a fail. The Highway Code states that two hands must be on the wheel at all times, wherever possible – so excluding putting on the headlights for example.  Lifting a hand up to say thanks is seen as unnecessary and could be viewed as not having proper control of the car.

  1. Flashing motorists 

Common road etiquette is often to flash any oncoming drivers to warn them about a potential hazard up ahead. But the road law makes it clear that whoever is behind the wheel should only flash their headlights to let other drivers be aware of their presence. Flashing during a test will most likely result in a fail for not following the Highway Code, despite most experienced drivers doing this regularly.

Founder and CEO of Quotezone.co.uk, Greg Wilson, said: “Most reasons for failing a driving test are pretty well known amongst learner drivers – like not checking mirrors enough or ineffective observations at junctions and roundabouts.

“But we’ve found those driving test fails which are much less reported, and will probably surprise novice and experienced drivers alike.

“Many of these so-called mistakes can be seen out on the roads every day and many of us probably do them on a regular basis, but learners can actually fail their test because of these common errors.  Learner drivers must put in the extra preparations during their driving lessons to ensure they are aware of these unusual rules and to increase their experience on the roads and in different situations.”

“It can be disheartening for learners to hear they’ve failed their driving test, but it’s important they keep the practice consistent and the result they want will come. Getting to know and understand all these mistakes will only help improve how learners drive and help keep them and other road users safe.”

Quotezone.co.uk helps around 3 million users every year find savings on household bills and essentials, including niche items such as learner driver insurance, young drivers insurance and driving school insurance




This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.