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I Failed a Driving Test Because of a Cold: A Case Study

By: Norman Thomson - Updated: 20 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
I Failed A Driving Test Because Of A Cold: A Case Study

People fail their driving tests for a variety of reasons. Here is Adrian's story of failing the test under surprising circumstances:

It was a beautiful day when I took my driving test. My instructor was pleased with the lesson and told me that I had prepared well for the test. I felt positive and, strangely enough, I was actually looking forward to it. My only problem was a minor cold, but after driving for about 50 minutes with my instructor, I felt ok to continue with the Driving Test.

The test started really well. Five sets of traffic lights and three roundabouts were negotiated nicely. Things were looking good. But it all went disastrously wrong after the emergency stop!

The Emergency Stop Had Disastrous Consequences

My examiner explained the procedure for the emergency stop. He banged his hand on the dashboard and I brought the car to a very controlled stop – without stalling and without sending the car into a skid. However, the jolt seemed to disturb my blocked nose. I think the stuffiness of the car had dried up my nasal passages and I felt fine, but that sudden stop made my nose start to run.

Well, the next five minutes were spent continually sniffing. I tried to do it as quietly as possible but I could tell that it was distracting the examiner. So, at a very convenient set of lights, which had just turned red, I reached into my pocket for a paper hanky and had a good clear-out! The lights changed to green and I pulled away into the traffic again.

I was pleased with myself. The test completed, I really thought that I had driven very well. And then came the bad news.

Four Minor Faults; One 'Serious' Error

The examiner told me that I had only four minor faults, which were not enough to fail the test. Excellent, I thought, now I am a proper driver. ‘However’, he continued. ‘You have committed a serious error and I am afraid that I have to fail you’.

Apparently, I was not in full control of my vehicle when I decided to reach into my pocket to retrieve a tissue. The correct action, the examiner informed me, would have been to pull the car over, at a safe and convenient place, stop the engine, take care of my nasal problem, and then start up the car and move off.

It is worth noting this when taking a driving test, or while driving after you get a driving licence. Being in full control of the vehicle is, of course, extremely important. Acts such as blowing your nose, reading maps, eating, fiddling with the radio or CD player, and even checking the time on your watch, are all classed as ‘not in control of the vehicle’.

Interestingly, I was talking about my experience with a friend, who had failed his lorry driving test for almost the same reason. During the test the examiner had asked him for the time. He thought it was a strange request, but my friend simply pulled up his sleeve so he could see his watch and told the examiner the time. He failed because he was ‘not in control of the vehicle’!

Incidentally, I passed the test on the second go, thankfully without the distractions of a cold.

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