The aim of this blog is to encourage a Learner driver to reflect on their driving ability by referring to the form that the driving examiner uses on the driving test as a point of reference. If you find yourself confused about what the assessment criteria is then this blog will make things a bit clearer.
Here is a sample form that gets used to assess a driving test in the UK. The actual markings on this particular one are pretty irrelevant but knowing what it actually means can be important.
At BIG TOM Driving School, on the 5 Day Intensive Driving Course (0800 689 4174), our customers are encouraged to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, and identify what areas of their driving need to be improved upon; in terms of their confidence levels, their technical ability, how much they affect other road users, how ready they will be to drive unsupervised once they pass their driving test. If a Learner driver pays no attention to this, if they have little regard for the standard of driving that is expected of them, then they will be less willing and able to assess how well they are able to achieve it. Being able to reflect and raise the awareness levels of your competence is a life skill and if a learner driver can start getting into the habit of raising self-awareness early on, then they will be more inclined to continue doing so even after they pass their driving test – there is a whole lot of learning that still takes place after a person passes the driving test. If a learner driver gets into the habit of just complying with a Driving Instructor (and sometimes begrudgingly) then they will not be developing this essential skill that will help to keep them safe on the roads once they have passed the test and are driving around on their own.
Getting back to the form. You will see that there are a whole bunch of things being assessed on the driving test. The range is quite deceptive on first glance of that form. You will see the manoeuvres listed over on the left, along with the controlled stop. But spread across the form are driving fault headings that have quite varied consequences. Some faults are about what literally happens to the car, some are based on how well the driver observes what is happening around the car, and there are even faults that can be picked up based on the decision making of the driver and how good the driver is at anticipating what might happen or planning what needs to be done for a given situation.
The large white boxes next to the assessment subject are where an examiner will put a diagonal mark if they observe an error. If however, the consequence of the error resulted in either actual danger or even potential danger then the mark instead gets placed under the column “S”erious or “D”angerous. Making other drivers brake hard, or swerve, or being in the wrong position in the road that affects others are examples of these type of faults. Bear in mind also, that if an examiner observes a group of faults which on their own would not be classed as serious, but because of the high number of them that have occurred over the 38 minute test, that group then becomes a serious fault. To pass the driving test, you are not allowed one serious or dangerous fault. This collecting of non-serious driving faults is often under-estimated – failing to check mirrors would be one such example, if an examiner observes this fault coming up repeatedly on the driving test, how can they give a pass? The candidate on test is repeatedly not checking mirrors on their driving test, they are very unlikely to inexplicably start doing so when they have passed the driving test. So my advice would be to completely ignore the amount of non-serious driving faults that can occur and still get a pass; although the number is 15, it is extremely rare for a test to have 15 driving faults recorded and still result in a pass, very rare indeed, because more often than not, in amongst those 15 faults will be a repetition of a fault that the examiner can simply not ignore, and so the theme becomes a serious fault.
Any driving fault that has implications to do with breaking the law will always be marked as serious – speeding, not giving way to pedestrians, going through red traffic lights, crossing solid white lines etc
As you can see, there are a great many aspects of the drive being assessed. It is a common and mistaken belief that once a learner driver has got the basics of car control then they should be putting in for the driving test. It is this constant under-estimating of the standard required that is contributing to the very low national first time pass rate of 21%. Coupled with the fact that with driving tests, unlike academic exams, the test is very much fluid, changing all the time. An exam paper is very much standard, and unchanging, but on test, there are a great deal of situations that can crop up, often initiated by the poor driving of others around, that can cause many candidates to fail the test as they were unable to accommodate that situation. And this brings me on to the last point I wanted to share with you, and I will shortly be providing a video on my driving channel to emphasise this point.
The difference between a mediocre driver and a good driver, is the ability to adapt to changing situations. Changing situations can be to do with driving on unfamiliar roads with the need for effective forward planning despite making instant decisions on direction, unexpected behaviour by drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, it may be with changing driving conditions relating to weather or road surface, it can be related to the environment inside the car with friends causing distractions and it can be to do with how we as humans have differing ability to drive relating to mood, drugs, alcohol, stress, fatigue.
Re-visiting what was said at the very start of this blog about self-awareness, if you want to get an idea of how well you are learning to drive, go drive somewhere unfamiliar. Pick a route that you have no idea how to get to, make it include some town driving, dual-carraigeway and rural roads. Try and observe if you affect others on the journey, be critical with yourself, if you feel uncertain that you can do that, get yourself a good driving instructor who can provide you with consistently accurate feedback that is based on the assessment criteria on the green form, rather than his/her personal opinion. In the years that we have been providing intensive driving courses it has been our experience that when learners aim for a high standard, and are prepared to critically assess their ability, and have an attitude that allows them to continue to perfect their driving, these learners tend to pass the driving test first time, with typically between 3 and 5 driving faults committed on the driving test.
BIG TOM Driving School 5 Day Intensive Driving Course (0800 689 4174)