Top Reasons Why People Fail Their Driving Test

Modern cities devote roughly 50% of their limited real estate to vehicles. That’s parking lots, garages, and of course, roads. Safe to say, earning one’s driver’s license is crucial in growing up and living in most places in the United States.

Planning to get your driver’s license? Here’s why people fail their driving test and tips for how you can pass on your first try.

Driving in Reverse (Using Mirrors)

One of the highest reasons people fail their driving test is because of poorly handling a vehicle while in reverse.

It’s not easy! It takes skill, coordination, and having a great sense of your surroundings when in a vehicle. In most states, this portion of the test will require the user to navigate through cones with poles sticking out of them.

Tips for Success

A few practical tips when backing up in reverse: first, stop. Take in your surroundings. Note where each cone is via your rearview and side mirrors.

Often you’ll be penalized for readjusting by going forward. This is okay! It’s better to lose a few points than to instantly fail by hitting a cone.

Readjust find all the cones in your mirrors, and begin going in reverse. Take it slow. Keep your foot on the brake at all times and with both hands turn the wheel slowly to navigate around the first of the cones.

Once you’ve done so, turn the wheel back to where it was prior, straightening out the car. Keep going slow and if you see yourself about to hit a cone, ask your instructor if you can go forward and try to cut again.

There are always some tough teachers, but most would rather see you succeed without hitting a cone than by failing.

At the end of the day, practice plenty before you get to the test and make sure you get a feel for the vehicle you’re driving in to know how it handles and operates.

Parallel Parking

Like driving in reverse, parallel parking is a huge stumbling point for early drivers. Depending on your state, you may have to parallel park either going forward or in reverse.

Both can be tricky to learn, but there are some tricks to help you master them.

Tips for Success

Before parking, know if you’re planning to drive forward into the spot, or if you plan to back in.

If pulling in, turn into the spot at a 45-degree angle. As you near the curb, cut the wheel sharp in the opposite direction. Ideally, you’ll be near the curb, but not touching it.

It’s okay if you’re right against the curb, but going onto it will lower your chance of passing.

Once your car is straight, cut back and center it, all while going slowly forward. With any luck, you should be straight in the spot.

Backing in requires the use of mirrors and physically rotating your head to see your goal. Cut the wheel in the direction you want to go, slowly letting off the brake.

Using your mirrors, check how close you are to the curb. Slowly back up until you’re near it, then cut backward and center the vehicle, always being mindful of anything behind you.

If you’re too close to a vehicle or object, you can pull forward some, cutting the opposite direction the wheel is angled, then going in reverse and cutting the wheel in the opposite direction again.

Testing On the Road

On average, the passing rate for a driver’s test is 46%. This means most people don’t succeed on their first try, and a factor that also contributes to passing rates is how high traffic areas are when taking the test.

The busier the traffic, the harder it is to pass. Below are some tips to study and practice the following to improve your chances at passing.

Turning, Steering, and Lane Positioning

Practice using your blinkers when possible. Check for traffic before merging. Make sure you don’t weave and go over lanes of traffic unintentionally!

There are more tips and tricks available

Following Distance

Make sure to keep yourself a cars length away from a vehicle in front of you, when slowing for a light or stop sign. When on the highway, estimate a car’s length for every 10 mph you’re going. That may seem like a lot, but it’s a great habit to get into.

And it’ll help you in passing the test.

When the weather is bad, such as rain or snow, double this distance to ensure you have proper time to slow down if there’s an accident.


Keep an eye on the speed limit when doing your test. If the limit changes suddenly, let off the gas so your car naturally decelerates.

Quick braking is bad for the car and could lead to an accident if someone is close behind you. A driving instructor will likely give you some grace, one-three mph over, but don’t push it more than that.

Responding to Lights and Signs

Always be vigilant while driving. Traffic can slow or accelerate at a moment’s notice and if you weren’t paying attention to roadsides or warnings, you may find yourself in an accident.

Learning signs on the road will help you master driving and ensure you pass your test.

And one crucial tip for stop signs. Stop!

Don’t slow down, then keep going. That’s a ‘rolling stop’ and really, it’s not stopping at all. This will immediately reduce your chances of passing the test. So stop, be safe, wait three seconds minimum, then continue.

Road Observations and Responding Accordingly 

One of the more nuanced factors in taking the test is paying attention at all times. Even if a light is green, or you’re heading down a one-way street, make sure to check for traffic.

Just because you’re driving correctly doesn’t mean everyone else is.  Staying vigilant will keep you safe, and help you in passing the driving test.

Why People Fail Their Driving Test

At the end of the day, the reason why people fail their driving test is due to a lack of practice and expertise. We at Drive Safe want to help mitigate that.

Check out our free course that will help you learn how to be a safe and effective driver. Get the skills you need to pass your test today!