Driving test myths

Driving test myths

Over the years that I’ve been teaching, I’ve heard many strange and bizarre driving test myths.

Let us look at some of the strange and mysterious things that people say and think about the dreaded driving test and driving lessons in general.

The driving test is fixed so they only pass so many people a day

The driving test is not fixed. There are no driving test quotas.

People like to blame failing a driving test on pass quotas but conveniently forget to mention them when they pass.

Would you tell your friends that you passed but only because too many others failed that day and they had to stick to their quotas? You can’t have it both ways, if you fail due to quotas then you pass due to quotas.

Here’s a real-life example of how stupid the quota theory is.

I had a phone call once from an instructor asking if I could take his pupil on a driving test the next day because he was ill and couldn’t do it (in other words he knew the pupil had no chance and didn’t want to turn up for a test with him). I took him in my car as a favour and he was awful. He kept moving off when cars were about to pass, making them swerve or brake and he almost crashed four times.

Despite all this, and the people who he nearly hit blasting their horns at him, and the examiner telling him he wasn’t ready, and me telling him he wasn’t ready, can you guess why he said he’d failed? He said it was all fixed and that’s why he had failed.

Another example is when a pupil went to drive the wrong way down a one-way road. He failed and said the examiner had quotas. Nothing to do going the wrong way down a one-way road then?

They fail you to make more money

No, they don’t and here’s why that myth is incorrect.

A new test is £62. The tax you’d pay to the government on insuring your first car would be over £100, not to mention the fuel, road tax etc. They make more from you passing, not failing!

If some idiot pulls out on you then you fail for them getting it wrong

You need to be good enough to handle someone pulling out on you. If not, are you ready to be on your own? There is no such thing as someone pulling out of nowhere, the “nowhere” is just somewhere you didn’t see and could have.

If you’re about to pass a junction and a car comes out of it quickly then you should have spotted the road and guessed that a car might emerge from it dangerously. The car didn’t just come out of nowhere, it came out of the road that you could have seen. Yes, it is them being stupid but the point is that they didn’t just pop out of nowhere and you can do something about it. If you’ve been taught well then you’ll know how to deal with any problem like this.

Everyone talks about other people being idiots, well to them you are the other person who is the idiot! You have to take responsibility for your own actions because you will get things wrong as others do. We all make mistakes and just blaming them on others means that more and more mistakes will happen as we all drive around thinking we’re perfect and blame everything on other drivers.

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. Drive as you normally do in lessons, don’t change anything. If you are constantly stopping at giveway 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 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 that they are speeding so much that they keep catching up with the learner when if they stuck to the speed limit they wouldn’t. Learners don’t drive too slowly, other people drive too fast!

This makes people think that learners have to go slow but they don’t. The way learners drive, properly and according to the rules, is the way that everyone is supposed to drive and if they did then the number of deaths on the road would drop by 90%. 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.

If you cross your hands on the wheel or stall then you fail instantly

No you don’t. Crossing your hands isn’t marked on a test, it hasn’t been for decades. It’s just one of those things that has grown as myth but isn’t true. So long as you are comfortable and remain in control of the steering at all times then why does it matter if you cross your hands? The paragraph below is a quote from an assistant chief driving examiner (I’ve changed the term that he actually used, push-pull, to pull-push because he got that wrong but otherwise it’s a direct quote).

“Learners can steer the car using whatever method they’re most comfortable with. We always used to recommend the ‘pull-push’ method, but it was never essential. We’re more concerned about the outcome than the method a learner uses to steer.”

Stalling is not a problem so long as you don’t stall when pulling out onto a major junction or stall repeatedly. Of course, by the time you go for a test, you may not usually stall at all but driving test nerves can often cause these problems.

Learn the test route and it’s easier

There is not just one test route, there are dozens of them. Each examiner has a few routes that they follow but It wouldn’t help to know them.

A road is never the same twice with different traffic, weather and hazards. Even instructors and examiners doing the job for years have trouble remembering all the routes, you’ll have no chance trying to learn them in 40 hours of lessons!

You do your test in a special car that they keep at the test centre

It’s strange how many people think there are special cars for tests. There are no cars at the test centre, so you do it in your instructor’s car. People have turned up at test centres without a car, thinking the examiner will let them use their test cars. There aren’t any!

It’s worth pointing out here that it is your responsibility to provide a car for a test, not your instructors. If an instructor wants to refuse the use of their car because you aren’t ready then they can.

If you have a driving instructor with a high pass you’re more likely to pass

Pass rates mean nothing for one reason – there is no proof of them.

If an instructor says their pass rate is 80% or 90%, how do you know? Lots of schools claim “The highest pass rates!” or “Excellent pass rates!” but can they prove it? Ask for proof and see!

When a pupil goes on a test the examiner writes down the instructor’s number on their badge. Those results would then build up pass rate data.

The thing is that you don’t have to leave your instructor badge in the car for a test so the results aren’t always recorded.

Imagine that there is a new instructor and their first-ever pupil passes on their first attempt. The next 200 tests they do result in fails which aren’t recorded because the instructor removed their badge from the car.

They have 200 fails in a row but still officially have a 100% pass rate because none of the fails were recorded!

The catch with driving instructor pass rates

Read the small print of people who claim 90% or 100% pass rates and you will see many catches. They often only include people who went on to pass with them, saying that people who went elsewhere or quit don’t count. Of course they do! They also often say 100% pass rate of those that passed, well what about the ones that failed? Many schools base pass rates on how many pupils eventually pass with them. Each pupil could have failed 4 times and then passed but they still count that as a 100% rate because the pupil eventually passed.

If I book a test then the instructor has to take me because I’ve paid for it.

Wrong. It is the responsibility of the person who books the test to provide a car. If an instructor refuses the use of their car for a test then you are not entitled to a refund. Your test may cost £62 or more but my car costs £20,000 and people’s lives are priceless. You can’t just turn up and have a go for the sake of it.

Driving test myths debunked

So there you have it.

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Your driving test myths

Do you know of any driving test myths not mentioned on this page?

Email me with them and I might include them!