The DVSA has recently published more guidance for the reasons why people fail driving tests.  Owner of BIG TOM, Tom Ingram describes in this blog number 2 on the Top 10 list – the use of mirrors. It is a curious one because, on the face of it, the reasoning for using mirrors is one of staying safe while driving; which you would think everyone would be wanting to do. So why do drivers not use mirrors on a driving test?

The first thing to state is that the driving behaviours that drivers show on a driving test really should not be any different to the driving behaviours they intend to do once they are qualified. It is an often heard thing when people suggest doing things ‘just for the examiner on a test’. Driving behaviours and techniques that DVSA-registered driving instructors teach are designed for drivers to stay safe, in other words, if you discontinue doing what you are taught in driving lessons, then it could have a negative impact on your ability to drive safely.

The DVSA give possible risk factors as to why drivers will not check mirrors when driving. They can be viewed on this slide here.

I provided a mock test for a pupil yesterday where there were 9 times in just 38 minutes of driving where the pupil did not check mirrors prior to changing direction or changing speed. This collection of 9 what used to be called “minors” but are better known as driving errors would suggest to any examiner that there is a ‘theme’ of underuse of mirrors while driving; and that theme would result in a fail on a driving test.

Seeing as this fault is number 2 on the list, that means many people, thousands in fact, are failing driving tests just because they think checking mirrors is not important. These test fails will mean that they need to practise more in checking mirrors and then try and find another driving test – which in the UK is currently a waiting time on average of 16 weeks.

Examiners are very clinical in their assessments on driving tests, they have to be as they perform a very important role in UK road safety.  It is an unrealistic expectation to think that an examiner would ignore a candidate refusing to check mirrors on a driving test. Remember, what might be considered by you to be a trivial matter, is not necessarily shared by driving instructors or examiners. Instructors and examiners work according to well-established DVSA driving standards, so you can be sure that what you are taught in driving lessons is consistent with what examiners expect to see on driving tests. This is one of the important things you need to consider when you do private practice with parents and friends: it is essential that you continue to practise the techniques that your driving instructor has informed you of.