Helping driving instructors learn about the top driving test faults

Aerial view directly above a road roundabout in Harrogate, North Yorkshire with tree lined streets and moving traffic

Amanda Lane, Head of Driver Testing and Training Policy, recaps what was covered during a recent webinar for driving instructors about the top 10 faults made during driving tests, and looks at techniques you can use to explore your pupils’ thoughts, feelings and beliefs about them.

Along with Graham O’Brien, Assistant Chief Driving Examiner, Amanda Lane welcomed hundreds of approved driving instructors (ADIs) to DVSA’s latest webinar on Tuesday 15 August 2023. It focused on the top 10 faults that are recorded during tests.

At its peak, DVSA had about 590 ADIs taking part, with lots of good discussion and great questions. And if you were not able to join, 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 DVSA 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.

The webinar 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

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, there are 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.

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 guidance on GOV.UK

DVSA will be updating its 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. DVSA will be asking them to speak to you about any scenarios that give them particular concern.


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