Helping L Drivers

The Practical Driving Test

Practical test

When the instructor judges that the learner driver has enough experience, then she or he will recommend booking a test. Don't be tempted to book a test too soon; the learner needs to be able to perform consistently in a wide range of road and traffic situations.

The practical car driving test can be booked online at www.gov.uk/book-practical-driving-test or by calling DVSA booking support on 0300 200 11 22. Candidates with special needs should declare this, so that appropriate arrangements can be made, if possible, to help them during the test.

The Driving Test Changes on 4 December 2017 - details here

Do not use an unofficial website to book your Theory Test, as you may pay more than necessary, and your test might not even be booked.

To book your test you will need your driving licence number and your Theory Test Pass Certificate number.

On the day of the test, the candidate must take their photocard driving licence and their theory test pass certificate (or confirmation) with them. If they only have an old-style paper licence, they must take their signed driving licence and a valid passport. If they do not take these documents, they will not be able to take the test and will lose their fee.

The practical driving test takes place on public roads in typical road and traffic conditions and lasts about 40 minutes. It is designed to see if the candidate can drive safely, knows the Highway Code and can demonstrate this through their driving.

The examiner will ask the candidate if they want their instructor, or another person, to sit in the back of the car during the test and/or be with them for the result and feedback. They must be over 16 years old and cannot take any part in the test.

The test begins with an eyesight test (if the candidate fails, the test will not continue). In good daylight, drivers must be able to read a vehicle numberplate, made after 1 September 2001, from 20 metres. If the learner needs glasses or contact lenses to read the numberplate, they must wear them whenever they drive.

All drivers must meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving.

Vehicle safety questions: 'show me, tell me'

Safety check

They will be asked two 'show me, tell me' vehicle safety questions. The examiner will ask the candidate to show how they would carry out a vehicle safety check, and to explain how they would do it.

During the driving test the examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving in various road and traffic conditions. This will include normal stops, an angle start (pulling out from behind a parked vehicle) and a hill start. The candidate will be asked to do two reversing exercises, such as reversing around a corner, turning in the road or reverse parking. They may also be asked to do an emergency stop.

The driving test includes about 10 minutes of 'independent driving', during which the learner will be required to follow road signs or a series of directions, without step by step instructions. This is much closer to the normal driving conditions they will face after their test and is designed to assess their ability to drive safely while making decisions on their own. More details about the independent driving section of the test can be found at www.gov.uk/practical-driving-test-for-cars/independent-driving-section-of-the-test.

Types of faults

There are three types of faults that can be marked in the test:

  • A dangerous fault - involves actual danger to driver, the examiner, the public or property
  • A serious fault - could potentially be dangerous
  • A driving fault - not potentially dangerous, but if the same fault is made throughout the test it could become a serious fault

Candidates can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test - but over 15 faults will result in the test being failed. If one serious fault or one dangerous fault is committed, the candidate fails the test.

At the end of the test, the examiner will tell the candidate whether they have passed and explain how they did during the test. They will also give feedback about the eco-efficiency of their driving. The candidate's instructor can listen to this if they wish.

If the candidate has passed the test, the examiner will give them a pass certificate, and ask if they want their full licence to be sent to them automatically. They can start driving straight away, without waiting for their licence to arrive. If the candidate has not passed, they must wait another 10 working days before they can take another test.

After Passing the Driving Test

Passing the driving test is just the first step in a driver's career. This is when the new driver faces their greatest risk, especially during their first year of driving. There is much that you can do to help your new driver stay safe on the roads - visit the After the Test section to find out more.

Further details about the practical car driving test are available at www.gov.uk/practical-driving-test-for-cars.