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What is a minor mistake in driving test?

How many mistakes can I make on a driving test?

Although our driving instructors at driveJohnson’s will never put you forward for your test unless they’re 100% sure you’re confident and ready, likely, you will still make a few mistakes on the day. Your driving test is a big thing, and you have undoubtedly been working hard in the lead up to the big day. You probably feel apprehensive, and a bit nervous, which could cause you to make silly mistakes, resulting in driving faults. What matters is how serious the fault is and how many mistakes you make on a driving test. You are allowed up to 15 minor faults on a driving test, if you get 16, that’s, unfortunately, a fail. The DVSA recently published the top 10 reasons for failing your driving test, have a read so you can hopefully avoid making these mistakes during your driving test.


How many serious/dangerous faults can you get on the driving test?

Receiving a serious or dangerous fault during your driving test will result in an immediate fail, although you won’t find out until the end of the test. Your examiner is looking to see if you can keep yourself, and others on the road, safe. If you display something during the examination that leads them to believe you could be a danger to yourself or others on the road, they will mark it as a serious or dangerous fault, and you will fail the test.

An example of a scenario that could result in a serious or dangerous fault would be approaching a roundabout and having incorrect lane positioning. If there were no cars on the roundabout at the time of this happening, you would receive a serious fault; however, if there were other cars on the roundabout when this occurred, it would result in a dangerous fault. The difference between a serious and a dangerous fault is that in the case of a dangerous fault, the examiner judges that the fault is posing an immediate danger to yourself or other road users, that they have to take action by using their dual controls or grabbing the wheel. Either way, in both instances, the outcome would be the same, and you would fail your driving test.

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If the examiner is seriously concerned about your driving and believes that it is too dangerous for you to continue with your test, they can stop the test and take over. Although rare, it does happen, and in this case, it’s safe to assume you’ve failed your test.

Can you fail for too many driving faults/minor faults?

You may be unsure of what is classed as a minor fault and what is classed as a serious fault. You may be wondering ‘can I fail my driving test for driving too slowly?’ or ‘can I cross hands during my driving test?’. A minor fault referred to as a driving fault on the test sheet, is a fault that has little or no effect on the safety of yourself or other drivers. If you make a silly mistake, the examiner is interested in seeing how you safely deal with that mistake and rectify the situation. For example, hitting the kerb during the parallel park manoeuvre is not ideal. Still, as long as you can safely readjust and complete the manoeuvre correctly, it would only be classed as a minor fault. In the same scenario, if you were to adjust without checking the mirrors and there was a passing car, this would result in a dangerous fault.

You can fail your driving test for too many driving faults/minor faults. You are allowed up to 15 driving faults on a test, anything more than this will result in a fail. You can also fail your test for having too many faults in one particular element of the marking scheme, for example ‘use of mirrors’. As a general rule, if you exceed more than four minor faults in one area of the marking sheet, it becomes a serious fault, and you will fail the test.

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Making mistakes on your driving test

The important thing to remember is you are only human, and mistakes are a normal part of everyday life. Your driving instructor believes you display the characteristics of a safe and competent driver; otherwise, they wouldn’t have put you forward for the test. So be confident, try not to panic, and do your best. If you do fail your driving test, don’t let it discourage you, it just means you need some more practice. Take it as a positive; you can learn from your mistakes and ace the test next time.

Top Tip by Andy Brown – driving instructor in Oxford

I would always recommend anyone approaching their driving test to have a few mock driving tests.
It’s a great way to understand the difference between minor driving faults and serious/dangerous driving faults.

Many learners don’t realise how easy it is to make a fault which would result in a test fail, so by doing a few mock tests it can be great preparation and often reduce the chances of failing on the big day.

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How many mistakes can I make on a driving test? was last modified: September 20th, 2022 by driveJohnsons

Common driving test faults

There’s nothing quite like taking off your L-plates and getting behind the wheel for the first time without an instructor by your side. But failing a driving test can put the breaks on those long awaited road trips, and be a real blow to your confidence. While your instructor will do their best to get you ready for the big day, there are some mistakes it’s all too easy to make — especially with the inevitable test day nerves.

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We’ve put together a list of the most common ways to fail your driving test — backed up by the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) — and advice on how to avoid them.

Driving test faults

Observations at junctions

You’ll probably have asked yourself “what is the main reason for failure?” at some point in the run up to your test. For the past 10 years, the top offender for a failed driving test has been poor observational skills at a junction — whether it’s a major fault or an easily avoidable minor one which tallies up. You must be able to prove that you can pull out safely into a new road when leaving a junction; failing to notice any of the hazards around could put you and others in danger.

Use of mirrors

When you use your mirrors well, you’ll find driving is smoother, easier and safer. But not using them properly is a common mistake that can lead to a failed driving test.

Mirrors should be used:

  • Before any major manoeuvre e.g. changing direction, signalling, moving off from a stationary position.
  • Before a change of speed.
  • Continuously as you drive to make sure you’re fully aware of the space around you. This includes using both your rear view and door mirrors.

Mirrors shouldn’t be used:

— To check on anything other than the road when driving. The rear-view mirror should be positioned so you can see the vehicles behind you, not your own reflection.


Proving you have adequate control of the car could help you steer clear of picking up one of the major driving test faults. Make sure you keep a steady course and follow the contour of the curb.

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Turning right

We’ll call this the reverse Zoolander – he couldn’t turn left, and a lot of learner drivers struggle to turn right out of a junction. You should remember to position your car so that it doesn’t cut the corner when making the turn.

Moving off

One of the easiest ways to fail your driving test is forgetting to do a check of your blind spots before you move off from a stationary position such as a pedestrian crossing or roundabout. This is one of the first things you’ll be marked on during your test, so make sure you start off on the right foot.


Control when moving off

Showing a lack of control when you’re moving off could lead to repeated stalling and a failed driving test; be careful you don’t move off with the handbrake on or roll backwards.

Response to traffic lights

Failing to stop at a red light is always going to be considered a very serious driving test fault, but you could also get caught out by waiting for too long at a green light. Other things to make sure you avoid are stopping beyond an advanced stop line or blocking off other road exits.

Reverse parking

During your driving test, you’ll be asked to perform one of 3 reverse parking manoeuvres. This can be difficult even for experienced drivers, but your instructor will help make sure you feel confident and competent performing these before your test. Losing control while reverse or parallel parking or having to re-position to correct a misjudgement could lead to faults.

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Failing to properly signal your intentions – indicating which way you’re going, checking you’re aware of the space around the car before indicating and turning – is a potential danger to you and others out on the road. Remember MSM – mirror, signal, manoeuvre. Commit this acronym to memory, it’s much more useful than OMG.

Keep these tips in mind on your big day and you should be on the road in no time. And if you’re in need of some extra lessons before your test, we know just where you can find a driving instructor.

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