How many people fail the test?
If you’re counting down the days until you get to display that red ‘P’ on your car, you’re not alone. In the 12 months to 30 June 2018, 156,502 people took a driving test in Victoria.
About three-quarters of applicants were successful on their first try. However, that leaves tens of thousands of learner drivers coming back for a second (or third) attempt.
What are the most common mistakes?
VicRoads figures show that about three-quarters of failed driving tests are due to ‘immediate termination errors’.
These include colliding with another vehicle or failing to give way, signal or check for other road users, exceeding the speed limit (there are multiple variations for this error), driving through a stop sign or red traffic light, and more.
VicRoads says the best way to avoid these mistakes is, simply, to practise.
“The more supervised driving experience a learner has, the more confident and capable they will be when they undertake the drive test,” says Jill Fitzroy, VicRoads’ director of registration and licensing.
Sometimes people forget how to turn a key, how to start the car... If one thing goes wrong, it throws their confidence completely.
“Learner drivers [under the age of 21] must have 120 hours of supervised driving experience, including 20 hours of night-time driving. We encourage that this driving takes place in a broad range of conditions such as wet weather, within different speed limits and involving a range of situations such as busy intersections and multi-lane roads.”
Nerves and bad habits
RACV Drive School manager and instructor Peter Phillips says some nerves are normal given this is a test environment. But being nervous has a clear impact on performance, something he’s witnessed many times during driving tests.
“Sometimes people forget how to turn a key, how to start the car. And it’s like ‘hang on, we’ve done this 10, 20 times’,” Peter says. “If one thing goes wrong, it throws their confidence completely.”
He agrees that ultimately, success comes down to practice. “The pressure comes in when a person hasn’t practised properly, or allowances have been made in the learning journey,” he says. For example, if speed is not strictly monitored, or shortcuts are allowed when driving with mum and dad.
“You can’t get into the test and say, ‘now it’s the test so you can’t speed, check your mirrors more’. Unless your supervising driver is always addressing these habits, [learners] can’t unlearn their behaviours. About 15,000 tests a year fail due to speeding.”
“Those who do professional driving lessons before the test tend to struggle less. A drive trainer can facilitate a range of practical scenarios to accurately assess a learner’s competence and identify areas of improvement that a parent may miss.”
“You don’t know what you don’t know – why use the experience and cost of a VicRoads test to find out about a skill or knowledge gap. RACV Drive School exists to help supervising drivers and learners create safer drivers. It’s a shared responsibility.”