The driving test is one of the last major hurdles that every learner driver of any age must overcome to finally become an independent driver. For a lot of learner drivers it also carries a bit of pressure to succeed and gain a new level of independence.
Standing between you and your next steps in life, the driving test promises freedom, but the possibility of failure can be daunting.
How do you fail a driving test, and what happens if you do fail it? What automatically fails you in a driving test?
On average, a little more than one in every three driving tests attempted will result in a fail. The driving test is getting harder, and the number of students that fail the test has been increasing over the years as the road rules and laws become more complicated.
There are a lot of skills and information to learn before becoming a solo driver, and the driving test is where you demonstrate what you know to gain your driving independence.
When you break it down, a driving test is really just going to be like many of your previous driving lessons and you will cover all the same things. The only difference is you’ll be demonstrating what you know rather than learning something new.
Once you have enough experience as a learner driver, if you pay attention to your surroundings and do the right you will likely find passing pretty easy.
There are a variety of ways you can fail your driving test immediately however. In some cases you will be allowed to finish your driving test to get a full experience, however you will record a fail regardless.
In some of our previous articles we’ve looked at what the driving test involves, ways you can prepare for your driving test, and common reasons people may fail the driving test, but let’s take a look at a list of some of what automatically fails you in a driving test in NSW.
Vehicle is unsuitable for use
First let’s start with the fastest way to fail your driving test - the vehicle itself.
Before you begin your driving test, it is a legal requirement for your testing officer to inspect your car for general roadworthiness and to ensure it is legal to drive on the road.
If your car is determined to be in poor condition or if it is not registered, then your driving test will result in a fail with an immediate termination.
Failing to obey speed limits
By the time you attempt your driving test, it is expected that you have the confidence and experience to drive at the posted speed limit. During the driving test your testing officer will be looking at how well you control your car and your behaviour, including your ability to maintain appropriate speed in traffic.
Exceeding the speed limit during the driving may result in an instant fail depending on the severity, duration, and context of the incident.
On the other hand, it is also possible to fail your driving test if you drive at a speed well below the speed limit.
While any significant breach of speed limits will result in a fail, you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Refusing to cooperate with the testing officer
You are required to undertake the entire test and demonstrate a sufficiently high level of skill and confidence in all areas of driving in order to pass, and refusing to carry out any part of the driving test will result in a fail and immediate termination of the driving test.
Performing illegal actions
Illegal activities such as driving without a seatbelt, or answering or using a mobile device while driving will result in a fail being recorded. You may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Trying to bribe or emotionally plead with your instructor for a pass will result in an immediate fail and termination of your driving test.
Failing to indicate
It is expected by the time you attempt your driving test that you know the appropriate situations and duration to use the indicators on your car.
Failing to indicate your intentions before making any driving manoeuvre is hazardous and unpredictable, and creates a significant risk of accident. Failing to indicate will result in a fail, however you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Failing to obey road markings
The lines on a road, including markings at intersections, crossings, or the dashed and continuous lines separating lanes on a road are all used to indicate specific driving behaviours that are legally allowed or not allowed.
It is expected that by the time you are attempting your driving test you will know what all markings on a road indicate, and failure to obey road markings will result in a fail - although you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Not giving way
Vehicles are expected to give way to the right at all times, or when instructed to give way by signage (including roadwork) or police.
Failure to give way creates an unpredictable hazard for traffic, and puts you and others at serious risk of an accident. Failure to give way will result in a fail - although you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Collision with vehicles, pedestrians, or objects
If the vehicle you are driving is involved in an accident at any point during the driving test, then you will immediately terminate the test with a recorded fail regardless of who is at fault or the severity of the accident.
Your driving behaviour and your behaviour towards other traffic and people (including your driving behaviour) will be assessed.
If you are caught behaving in a manner that is considered aggressive or dangerous either towards your testing officer or towards other traffic (including cutting vehicles off or tailgating) you will fail the driving test, and the remainder of your test may be cancelled immediately on the spot.
Causing someone else to crash
If you cause another vehicle to crash as a direct result of your driving behaviour (whether or not your vehicle also crashes), your driving test will be recorded as a fail with immediate termination of your driving test.
Being unprepared for your test
It is possible to fail your driving test if you are not deemed to be appropriately prepared for the test. This may include wearing clothing (such as restrictive clothing, or headgear that obstructs vision) or footwear that is considered to be inappropriate for driving, or if you are significantly unwell or under influence (of drugs or alcohol) and unfit to drive.
Your testing officer may choose not to go ahead with your driving test until you are able to fix any issues (such as changing clothes), or may terminate the test if you are unable to fix the situation immediately.
Judging traffic or conditions incorrectly
Making dangerous decisions when pulling out into traffic, merging, or giving way unnecessarily may result in a fail if your actions pose a significant hazard which could result in an accident.
If you record a fail for any of these you may still be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience, depending on the type and severity of danger caused by your actions.
Failing to identify serious hazards
It is expected that you are able to accurately identify and respond to all hazards when driving, and failure to identify a hazard that causes your testing officer to intervene will result in a fail, although you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Using the wrong lanes and roads
Driving on the wrong side of the road, driving the wrong way down a one-way street unnecessarily, or using the incorrect lane when turning will result in a fail. You may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience depending on the type and severity of critical error you have committed.
Failing to obeying traffic lights
Failure to interpret and adhere to traffic signals of any form (including at intersections and rail crossings) during your driving will result in a fail being recorded, although you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Failing to obey road signs
Failure to obey road signs during your driving test will result in a fail being recorded, although you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
The only time you are allowed to disobey a sign is if you are required to do so to make way for an emergency vehicle, and it is safe to do so.
Failing to obey traffic controllers
If a traffic controller is present (such as police or emergency services), then you are to follow their direction. Failure to do so at any time during your driving test will result in a recorded fail, although you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Not checking blindspots
By the time you are attempting your driving test, it is expected that you will be able to maintain full situational awareness of your surroundings and traffic conditions while driving, including your blindspots. Neglecting to check your blindspots during the driving test will result in a fail being recorded, although you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Not meeting required parking standards
During your driving test you will be expected to perform several slow speed manoeuvres which may include reverse parallel parking, U-turns, and other manoeuvres that require you to bring your vehicle close to the kerb.
Failure to park correctly including mounting the kerb, parking too far from the kerb, or parking outside of the marked parking space during the test will result in a fail being recorded. You may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience, however.
Stopping your car abruptly or in a dangerous position (such as the middle of the road or intersection), or otherwise obstructing traffic or pedestrians will result in a fail being recorded, although you may be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
Stalling your car in a manual (and not being able to restart immediately)
It is often still possible to pass your driving test if you stall your car only once during the driving in most circumstances, although stalling your car will usually be recorded as a critical error.
There are occasions, however, where stalling your car may result in an immediate failure of the driving test if your car becomes stationary and poses a significant hazard for other traffic or puts you and your testing officer in immediate danger. If this happens, you may still be able to carry out the remainder of the test for the experience.
While the size of this list may seem daunting, by the time you are attempting your driving test you will have completed and recorded significant amounts of supervised driving, and covered all of the scenarios you will be tested upon.
With the help of a professional driving instructor and a structured approach to your driving lessons and driving practice, you will be more than capable of mastering the road rules, driving skills, and hazard perception necessary to safely and confidently drive and pass the driving test.
EzLicence offers access to the greatest range of professional driving instructors anywhere in Australia. To see which driving instructors are operating in your area, enter your suburb postcode into the instructor finder form below, and compare and choose the one that’s right for you.