According to the RACV, tens of thousands of Victorian learners fail their probationary driver’s licence test the first time. They found that the reason for their failings can be attributed to a few common issues that can be easily overcome with a bit more practice and some more professional driving lessons.
To help you get that ‘P’ on the corner or your windshield, we’ve listed five common test mistakes that learner drivers make. We also discuss the things that you can do to avoid such errors.
- Not studying the road rules
There are plenty of students who know how to control their speed, know how to parallel park and know how to do proper head checks. However, when it comes to the road rules, they fall flat.
A common mistake is rolling through a stop sign. In Australia, a stop sign means you have to come to a complete stop and give way to oncoming vehicles. This differs from give way signs where you simply have to slow down and follow the give way rules as you’re approaching an intersection.
To be safe, some driving instructors tell students to stop for three seconds before moving off. While there is no hard rule regarding this, it does give your vehicle enough time to come to a complete stop.
Many student drivers also get confused with merging on the freeway. The key thing to look out for is whether or not there’s a dashed line. If there’s no dashed line, the car that’s in front will have priority regardless of what lane they’re in. This is called a ‘zip merge’. If there is a dashed line, the merging vehicle will have to give way to cars that are already on the freeway.
To avoid getting these rules wrong, we recommend revising the road rules handbook. Even though you’ve already passed your learners test, it won’t hurt to do a little bit of revision.
- Not doing proper head checks
When you’re out on the road, there are plenty of hazards that you have to look out for. That’s why it’s important to do proper head checks when doing certain maneuvers.
A head check is when you turn your head to check your blind spot. This should be done when you’re stopping at a stop sign or a red light, leaving a parking spot or a driveway, changing lanes, doing a three-point turn, exiting the freeway and merging.
Of course, when doing a head check, you should also check your side and rear-view mirrors. Always be alert to potential hazards on the road. This will help you avoid accidents and help you pass your test.
- Going too fast or too slow
With so many things to keep track of, many students lose control of their speed. This could be due to nervousness or a lack of experience.
Despite what you might have heard about speed tolerances, it’s best to closely adhere to the given speed limit. Most instructors agree that it’s better to stay slightly under the speed limit when doing your test.
Be careful, though. Going too slow can result in you failing the test, or worse, getting into an accident. Driving at an excessive low speed makes your car an obstruction to other motorists. Additionally, slow driving often causes your fellow drivers to become frustrated, which then leads them to making rash decisions.
- Not practicing reverse parking
Reverse parking strikes fear into the hearts of many student drivers. It is a difficult maneuver even for some experienced drivers. However, as with many things in life, practice makes perfect.
When practicing reverse parking, make sure to do it slowly. Get used to controlling your car in reverse. When you’re reversing, it’s important to be constantly looking at where the car is headed. As a beginner, it might be unnerving to look away from the steering wheel. This is just one of those things that you’ll have to practice. Also, always use your mirrors to check the tires, the wheel stops and the road markings.
Take your time when learning this maneuver. Before you know it, you’ll be reverse parking like it’s nothing.
Nervousness is probably the trickiest problem to deal with. Many learn drivers forget what they’ve practiced because they’re feeling the pressure of the moment. There are a few reasons why a learner driver will be nervous.
Other students get nervous even though they are more than capable of passing the test. The first thing to do is recognize that this feeling is normal. Driving is generally a stressful experience, but you will get used to it over time. The second thing to do is to find ways to mitigate your nervousness. This could be eating a hearty breakfast, talking to friends or meditating. Taking a practice drive with your instructor just before the test can also boost your confidence.
Feeling under prepared can also cause a great deal of anxiety and nervousness. Luckily, there is an easy solution for this type of nervousness: practice. Practice will make you familiar with the problems and challenges that you’ll face during the test. Familiarity will make you more confident and clear-headed.
If you feel that you need help with your driving, make sure to book a driving lesson with a professional instructor. It’s important that you find a teacher that you’re comfortable with. Through practice, consistency and a little bit of courage, you’ll be able to pass your driving test with flying colors.