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  • Emma Hallett

10 things you need to know before you take your driving test

Everyone needs to pass a driving test to get a full licence, the more you know about what to expect, the less stressed you'll be on the day.

1. Expected the unexpected.

Sometimes you can plan and anticipate, this will help you feel more prepared. However, you cannot always predict the actions of others. Humans make mistakes, accept them, stay calm and be considerate. If you make a mistake, apologise if it has affected someone (usually hold your hand up to them and say sorry - they can't hear you but they can lip read). It's important you stay calm when you make a mistake to avoid any further issues. In a test situation mistakes do not always get marked as a fault so focus on dealing with the situation to the best of your ability and forget about how the examiner will mark it.

2. If you are in the wrong lane, it’s ok to go the wrong way.

On your practical test there's a chance you will find yourself in the wrong lane and won’t realise until the last moment. If this happens, stay calm, stay in your lane and choose the most appropriate route from your lane. This will mean you will go the wrong way, this is not a fault if you do it safely.

3. Make your own decisions.

Remember when you're driving not to just copy the driver in front as there is a high chance they will be making a mistake. Drive as you have been practising in your lessons and fall back on your theory knowledge. For example, if you keep up with the car in front they could be speeding which may cause you to fail your test.

4. Watch out for temporary traffic lights.

There are sometimes temporary traffic lights on the test routes (maybe more than 1 set!) so look out carefully for the signs. There will be a red sign that says "wait here until green light shows" or "wait here when red light shows". This sign is effectively the stop line for the traffic lights and may be positioned several car lengths before the lights. If the sign is positioned before a turn you will need to stop for a red light even if you could safely take your turn. If you need to stop, then stop close to the sign. If you have passed the sign and the light goes to amber continue on. Be careful not to block any junctions/entrances whilst queuing as that can cause more problems than usual.

5. Be prepared to pull up on a busy road (other drivers may even beep at you).

On your practical test the examiner will ask you to pull up on the left on a busy road, this might be somewhere where you would not normally park. On these roads you may consider yourself to be an obstruction as other vehicles do not normally park there. Remember, you are not stopping for long. What the examiners are testing is the situation where you may just drOn these roads you will want to rejoin the traffic flow again fairly quickly. If there is likely to be a safe opportunity then wait for that before signalling. If it is a constant stream of traffic then signal and wait for someone to let you out. If there is oncoming traffic and the traffic behind cannot pass, then you want to signal and move off but ensure there are no bikes going around you.

6. Forget about what the examiner thinks.

On your test try not to think about what the examiner's opinion might be of your driving. Focus on driving safely and legally at all times and fall back on your experience. You would not be going to the test if you were not ready so trust yourself. If you are happy with your actions, that's all that should matter.

7. If it rains, use the wipers (and maybe the lights).

Whilst driving it might be necessary to operate a control, for example switch on the lights when it gets darker or clean the windscreen if it gets dirty. By the time you take your test you should be confident doing these things but it's important you think for yourself about when they need to be done. The examiner should not need to tell you and after you've passed there will be no one to remind you.

8. Stay present.

Always focus on what’s happening now and what’s coming up next. That will make you a safer driver in the long run and in a test situation it’s not helpful to reflect as you may make more mistakes. Take time to reflect once it’s all over and when you’re not behind the wheel.

9. If the examiner marks something, ignore it.

During your test the examiner may marks things on the report, this is not necessarily a fault you have made so try not to focus on them and just drive to the best of your ability. Getting distracted by faults you may or may not have made will not help you drive well.

10. If you make a mistake, keep calm and carry on.

You are not trained as the examiners are, you will not know how a fault should be marked (or even if it’s a fault at all) so keep driving to the best of your ability and leave it behind.

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