Myths of the UK driving test
Over the years that I’ve been teaching I’ve heard many strange and bizarre tales about the driving test and lessons. 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.
You may also like to read some funny stories about driving tests and lessons.
“The test is fixed, they can only pass so many people a day”
It is not fixed. There are no quotas. People like to blame a fail on 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 that, 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 tried to drive the wrong way down a one-way road. He refused to accept that he’d done anything wrong and said the examiner was racist and had quotas. Nothing to do with trying to go the wrong way down a one-way road then?
As for people saying they make more money from failing you and making you pay for another test, here’s why that theory 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!
I have taken pupils to over 600 driving tests and sat in the back of around 300. Not one has ever been fixed. I also know many examiners and they are not told to fix tests. They don’t have quotas. It is not fixed and if you didn’t pass you just weren’t good enough. The only people that say it’s fixed are people who are angry that they failed and won’t face up to the fact that they made a mistake.
“If some idiot pulls out on you then you fail for them getting it wrong”
You should be good enough to be able 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 should have. In all my years of driving I have yet to see a car just magically appear in thin air out of nowhere.
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. You should never be failed on someone elses fault, you should only be failed if you didn’t then take the correct action.
Everyone talks about other people being idiots, well to them you are the other person that 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 everthing 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. 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 they 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!
This makes people think that learners have to go slow but they don’t. The way learners drive, properly and 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 on to a major junction or stall repeatedly. Of course by the time you go for a test you shouldn’t be stalling 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 the routes anyway because 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’re special cars for tests. There are no cars at the test centre, you do it in your instructors car. People have turned up at test centres without a car, thinking the examiner will let you 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.
“I want an instructor with a high pass rate because then I’m more likely to pass”
Pass rates mean nothing for one reason – there is no proof of them. No official records are kept and pass rates are rarely anything more than made up figures to impress people. 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 test the examiner writes down the instructors number on their badge. The result is supposed to build up a pass rate for that instructor. The problem is that it’s not compulsory for instructors to leave their badge in the car for a test so very often the results aren’t recorded. Instructors used to get sent these pass rates from the DSA (as it was then, the DVSA now) every January but this hasn’t been done since around 2003.
Here’s a good example of how confusing pass rates can be. Imagine that there is a new instructor and their first ever pupil passes on their first attempt. For all future tests the instructor removes their badge from the car so the results never get recorded. With 200 fails in a row they still officially have a 100% pass rate because none of the fails were recorded!
If you look closely into the small print of people who claim 90% or 100% pass rates you will see many catches. They often only include people that 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 passed with them. Each pupil could have failed 4 times then passed but they still count that as a 100% rate because the pupil eventually passed.
All this just shows how silly pass rates are, they can be manipulated and made up so easily that they aren’t worth anything. Please don’t be fooled.
“If I book a test then the instructor has to take me because I’ve paid for it.”
Wrong. It 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 because you aren’t ready, you booked it without telling them or for any reason, then you are not entitled to a refund and we do not have to take you on test. Your test may cost £62 or more but my car costs £20,000 and peoples lives are priceless. You can’t just turn up and have a go for the sake of it.