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Helping driving instructors learn about the top driving test faults

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Driving instructors, Ready to Pass?, Resources for instructors


Along with Graham O’Brien, Assistant Chief Driving Examiner, I was delighted to welcome hundreds of approved driving instructors (ADIs) to our latest webinar on Tuesday 15 August 2023. It focused on the top 10 faults that are recorded during tests.

At its peak, we had about 590 ADIs taking part, with lots of good discussion and great questions. And if you were not able to join us, more than 96% of those who filled in the post-webinar survey recommend that you watch it back.

But before you do that, let’s start by explaining why it’s so important to look at these reasons. It’s much more than just being about passing the driving test.

Factors in real-life collisions

Many of the commonly recorded faults in driving tests are top contributory factors in reported collisions. That’s why we assess them as part of the test – to make sure that learner drivers are ready for driving safely independently.

For example, drivers and riders failing to look properly was a contributory factor in 35% of all collisions in 2021 – and it was a factor in 343 fatal collisions.

Understanding these reasons can help you assess if your pupils have the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to be safe when they’ve passed their test.

And perhaps most importantly, they give you a great way of exploring factors with your pupils that will increase risk in different scenarios. Digging into your pupils’ understanding of risk can give you a much better sense of their thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

In the webinar, we looked at some ways that you could go about this.

Exploring factors that might increase risk

The way people think about driving and the way they feel when they come to drive are the ‘human factors’ in driver safety. Six of the main human factors that can affect driving performance are:

  1. How your pupils process information - how do their brains and eyes work while they’re driving?
  2. Your pupils’ ‘mental landscape’ - how do their thoughts and feelings affect their driving decisions?
  3. Risk perception - how do your pupils assess road risk and how is this affected by their beliefs about what might happen?
  4. Confidence - how do your pupils’ beliefs in their ability and skills influence their driving decisions and risk taking?
  5. Personality - how do your pupils’ thrill-seeking tendencies influence the way they drive?
  6. Stress, mood and emotions - how do your pupils’ feelings, including nervousness, affect their ability to drive safely?

There are obviously other influences on someone’s driving. These include things like:

  • how your pupils deal with distractions
  • fatigue (feeling tired, sleepy or lacking in energy)
  • alcohol and drugs (we tend to think of drug-driving just in terms of illegal drugs, but many prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines can have equally detrimental effects on driving performance)
  • in-vehicle technology
  • the road environment

Learn more

If you’re interested in learning more about the human factors, it’s worth investing in a copy of The Official DVSA Guide to Better Driving. Use code ADI1 to get 35% off when you order from the Safe Driving for Life website.

Using different questioning techniques to explore factors

You might want to use probing questions to explore these factors with your pupils.

For example, you could start by asking “Why do you think people fail to look properly at junctions?” And then start probing into any factors your pupil mentions with questions such as “Why do you say that?”.

You could use clarifying questions such as “If I’ve understood you correctly, are you saying that…” if your pupil’s answer is not clear. This is also a good way to reassure them that you’re listening.

You could then go on to introduce other factors and influences they do not mention to see what they think and feel about those.

Watch the webinar recording

You can now watch the recording of the webinar. It includes an explanation of each of the top 10 faults, and a question and answer session.

To make navigation easier, we've added timestamps in the video description. You can select a relevant timestamp to jump to a particular fault, or to go to the question and answer session.

If you were not able attend and have any questions, please ask them in the comments and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Download the slides

You can also download a PDF version of the main slides that cover the top 10 faults.

Download ‘Top 10 faults made during driving tests’ (PDF, 1.9MB, 14 pages)

Record your continuing professional development

Remember that watching the webinar counts as continuing professional development (CPD). Make sure you keep a record of your activities.

Updating our guidance on GOV.UK

We’ll be updating our guidance about the top 10 faults on GOV.UK in the next few weeks, and encouraging learner drivers to review the list and different scenarios. We’ll be asking them to speak to you about any scenarios that give them particular concern.

Thank you for your hard work

I mentioned this in my last blog post, but it’s worth saying it again.

Between April 2012 and March 2013, just 1.5% of people who passed the car driving test passed with zero faults (a ‘clean sheet’). Between April 2022 and March 2023, that’s increased to 3.9%. It’s an indication that those who are passing are better prepared than ever.

So thank you for everything that you’re doing to help prepare the next generation of drivers for a lifetime of safe and sustainable journeys.

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  1. Comment by Lee Moore posted on

    Is it me or is Number 7 missing from the pdf of top ten faults?

    • Replies to Lee Moore>

      Comment by John (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Lee.

      Sorry about that - you're right that the PDF accidently left out reason 7. This has now been fixed.

      Best wishes

  2. Comment by Amanda posted on

    No.7 is still missing when downloading the list

  3. Comment by Stephen Hale posted on

    With regards to the stop signs, I find that pupils who do stop can then exit without looking properly. My instruction has changed over time, it is now stop then give way. Can you see? Is it safe in every direction?

  4. Comment by Lee posted on

    John this is excellent and serves as memory jogger keep up this is a good job.

  5. Comment by Keith posted on

    It may be more helpful if questions were requested and submitted in advance so that similar topics can be covered together, and to prioritise answers for the most asked or simply the best questions.
    The only other way to deal with a high volume of questions is to invite emailed questions in response to the webinar to be followed up with a second video of purely Q+A.
    Otherwise engaging content,

  6. Comment by Jenny posted on

    Great seminar, thanks so much for putting it on, and especially for recording it, as I could not make it on the day. Would be great to be able to respond to the survey afterwards too👍

  7. Comment by Dave posted on

    Hi I find the supplied slides very interesting as the webinar was too early for me but I can't help thinking you have missed something here.

    These are the TEN Categories... there are a lot more 'faults' listed which is what they fail on.

  8. Comment by Anthony Mordi posted on

    Thank you so much for the Seminar. It's of immense benefit to me and more importantly,to my trainees who will be very positively impacted.

  9. Comment by Neil posted on

    Can you please do a similar webinar on the top reasons ADIs fail their standards check and how to do it correctly.
    Don’t feel we have enough help on how to get a top grade.