Why Did I Do That On My Driving Test?

Judgement blog

If you have been unfortunate on your driving test and find yourself asking the above question, fear not, you are by no means alone.  This blog will shine a spotlight on why many end up asking this question after doing a certain action on the driving test.


I have highlighted in the image of a driving test examiners sheet, the common faults that occur on a driving test that I call “brain faults”.  I’m talking here about driving too closely to a vehicle in front of you or when passing a parked vehicle, going on to a roundabout when there wasn’t enough time, turning right on a crossroads when there was an oncoming vehicle that had priority over you, getting flustered about which lane you are supposed to be in, drifting left or right on a roundabout that affects others, continuing on the gas when really you should have given way to an oncoming vehicle,  driving through an amber or even red traffic light.  All the kind of things that you know, you just know, you shouldn’t do, but for some reason, today of all days, that is precisely what you did!

In high stress situations like driving tests, job interviews, high level presentations, first dates, sales deals and the like, the heart beats quicker than normal, adrenalin is running high, sensory impulses can be heightened or dulled, limbs on the body can start to move oddly, the stomach can feel tight or nauseous, the mouth dries up, the eyes don’t blink, we don’t breathe deeply, muscles tense, we fidget, we inadvertently say what we are thinking, we forget our manners, we either talk too much or don’t say a thing, we stay rigid, we sweat, we feel hunger, we bite our nails, we need the toilet and let’s not forget the biggy, our brain becomes cloudy, dull, heavy, unresponsive and confused.  Our inner voice starts to question anything and everything we do to the point of making the body either freeze or spark into spontaneous and uncontrolled action.  We doubt our actions, we perceive all our decisions as being highly dubious, we find ourselves being in a state of inactivity where we suddenly recognise that we kind of lost our way for a moment and time stood still for a few seconds.  Any of this sound or feel familiar?

We are all human, we respond to stimuli, emotions can run high.  For sure, some of us are better at handling these situations than others; that does not include me by the way, I’m positively in the “shaky leg” category.

We know what we should do, but for some reason we just don’t do it, instead we fall victim to this strange person who has suddenly taken over our bodily functions.  It is most upsetting, frustrating, confidence sapping, and foot stompingly annoying!

There will not be too many people reading this blog, who cannot relate to how this all feels.  And that’s one of the big points to acknowledge, this is not necessarily about lack of competence or knowledge, it is often more to do with how we are feeling right then, right when it is all about to start.  Because how you feel, is very personal.  Yes you can have the radio on when the driving test is happening because you hate long silences, yes you can have the air conditioning on as you are getting hot and flustered, yes speak to yourself or the car while driving – the examiner will not mind, yes have that cigarette or that burger or that toilet break or that herbal calmer; it is all about coping mechanisms.    In much the same way that you often had to dig deep and find solutions to the many obstacles that were discovered when you learnt to drive, equally, you need to manage, handle, cope, endure the driving test assessment to maximise your performance too.

But don’t think you are alone, stupid, pathetic, incapable, and wasting the examiners time.  The driving test is actually your time, it is an opportunity, you may fail, but failing is an opportunity to improve.  It is the experience that you have earned the right to participate in, it is empowering, when that feeling of disappointment fades, you just wait and see what happens next – you may well surprise yourself.  I am talking resilience, perseverance, patience, focus, determination and courage.  Success does not come to everyone instantly, what makes success sweet is the path you inwardly take to achieve it, and it is you who treads that path, one step at a time….. just you.

Tom Ingram is the owner of BIG TOM Driving School.  5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Lincoln, Peterborough, Grantham, Stamford, Spalding, Boston and Bourne.