New analysis of the latest car driving test data has revealed that the most common fault learner drivers make during their test is failing to make the correct observations when at a junction. 

It analysed the total number of faults recorded in the 1,689,000 practical tests undertaken between March 2022 and 2023.

The latest data set from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), showed that learners are still failing to take in the situation around them when moving onto a new road safely.  

During a practical examination, a driver is allowed to make up to 15 faults, however, an assessor will determine the contextual situation of each one. 

The observational fault, which has consistently held the top spot since records began 16 years ago, is noted down in instances such as a driver misjudging the speed of an oncoming car, entering a roundabout when a vehicle is approaching from the right, or not even looking when they approach a junction. 

Dan Jones, Operations Manager at said: “It seems that safely navigating junctions is still causing learner drivers the biggest headache during their test.  

“Often, learners get anxious about reversing around a corner or even parallel parking in the lead-up to their exam. Then, in the stressful environment of a driving test, they forget about the observational basics they would have been taught since the beginning of their lessons.” 

The data also revealed that even the basic skill of moving off safely is proving a tricky task for learners to master, with the fault creeping into the top three for the first time. 

Completing the top three was drivers failing to check their mirrors safely when changing direction.  

Other common faults on the list included failing to take up the correct position when turning right at a junction, not having control of the steering wheel, and failing to respond correctly to traffic lights or signs.  

Dan concluded with advice for drivers who are about to take their practical test: “Last year the DVSA saw a 10 per cent rise in people taking their practical test when compared to the previous year, however the pass rate was down by half a per cent.  

“Although any examination can be stressful, it is worth noting that examiners aren’t out there to catch you out. Make sure they can see you making deliberate observations, or even think out loud during the test as this can be a checklist for yourself as well.” 

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Top 10 driving test faults: 

  1. Junctions (observations) 
  2. Mirrors (change direction) 
  3. Move off (safely) 
  4. Junctions (turning right) 
  5. Control (steering) 
  6. Response to signals (traffic lights) 
  7. Response to signals (traffic signs) 
  8. Positioning (normal driving) 
  9. Response to signals (road markings) 
  10. Reverse park (control) 

If a fault is deemed to be potentially dangerous or dangerous then it will result in the learner failing the test.