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What happens if you fail your driving test? 

Failing to look properly at junctions and not using mirrors when changing direction are the biggest causes of practical driving test fails and accidents, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has revealed.

Between May 2021 and March 2022, DVSA conducted 1,538,314 practical driving tests – 751,914 learners passed and got their full driving licence, but 786,400 failed.

When can you rebook a driving test after failing?

The good news is that if you do fail, you can rebook your driving test immediately, though there are waiting lists of several months at some test centres – but this can give you some extra time to practice. If you can’t wait, you can read our blog on the test centres with the shortest waiting times.

You shouldn’t have to retake your theory test when you rebook your practical as long as two years doesn’t elapse since you passed your theory test.

With driving test failures relatively common at the moment, the DVSA has launched a Ready to Pass campaign to help you make sure you’re test ready before you book your driving test. This is particularly important with the driving test backlog being so high.

Chief driving examiner Mark Winn said: “It is vital that learners can drive safely and have the skills to drive on all types of road before taking their test. The driving test helps get drivers ready for a lifetime of safe driving and makes our roads safer for all. Failing to look properly at junctions is the most common serious or dangerous test fault and the largest cause of accidents in Britain. Good observation, including proper use of mirrors, is a crucial skill that drivers must learn.”

Read our driving test tips to help you pass your test first time.

Advice on avoiding common driving faults

Read our blog on the most common driving test faults. Our round-up includes information on how to avoid making the same mistakes. The Highway Code is also an excellent resource that provides rules, guidance and advice on avoiding common faults. This can help you understand the theory around why you should drive a certain way.

It’s a good idea to use your mirrors frequently so you always know what is behind and to each side of you. Make sure you use them in good time before you signal, change direction or speed. In genral, maintaining a steady course and positioning the vehicle correctly on the road is an important piece of advice too.

First driving test fail? It could be worse

But remember,  if even after all your preparation you failed your test first time, it could be worse. A man from Stoke-on-Trent failed 36 driving tests before passing on his 37th attempt. There is currently no limit on the number of times you can book driving tests.

The DVSA also revealed that in 2016 a young learner driver took 21 tests in a calendar year – he passed on his last attempt, much to the relief of all at the test centre.

And you can’t help but feel sorry for Jason Walker from Crawley who wrote off his driving instructor’s car while trying a three-point turn.

He explained: “It was my first try doing the manoeuvre, and as I was turning towards the kerb the instructor said I was going too fast and shouted at me to brake.

“But I panicked and hit the accelerator by mistake and wrapped the car around a telegraph pole. It was a write-off.”

It took 12 attempts to pass his test.

The theory test can seem just as difficult

Passing the driving test theory can be just as difficult for some. A 28-year-old woman from Southwark failed her theory test 110 times, while a 30-year-old man from Peterborough hasn’t passed after 86 attempts.

There may be a silver lining though as failure is in no way linked to intelligence. The physicist Albert Einstein had an estimated IQ of 160 – officially the IQ of a genius – but he never learned to drive. He said driving was “too complicated,” but that didn’t stop him from going on to develop the theory of relativity.

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