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Practical Driving Test for Cars

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 10 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Practical Driving Test Driving Test

Once you have taken and passed your theory and hazard perception tests, your next step is to prepare yourself for and take your practical driving test

What is the Practical Driving Test?

The Practical Driving Test is the final part of the driving test process in which you, as the driver, will go out onto the road in a vehicle with a qualified examiner. Your knowledge of road regulations and your understanding of vehicle safety requirements will have already been tested via the multiple choice Theory Test. As part of the theory test you will also have sat through a series of video clips in the Hazard Perception Test. The practical test is where the examiner will observe and assess your ability to drive a vehicle and demonstrate that you can apply your knowledge of the Highway Code to your driving.

What Does the Practical Driving Test Consist of?

Before taking the test your examiner will ask you to read a number plate on a stationary vehicle. To meet the eyesight requirement, a driver must be able to read a number plate from 20.5 metres, or from 20 metres if the new style number plate is used. During the test you will drive on roads – not motorways – under the supervision of your examiner who will give you instructions as to what route to take. You will be required to navigate a particular route – known as the Test Route – along which there may already be hazards that the examiner will be aware of. You will be asked to perform certain manouevres and the driver will monitor your driving, observation and awareness skills. The aim of this part of the test is to determine whether or not you are a competent enough driver to be allowed to drive alone as a qualified driver.

During the Course of the Test You Will be Asked to:

  • Negotiate junctions
  • Use a roundabout
  • Understand and show understanding of road markings and signs
  • Show an understanding of speed limits on varying types of road
  • Demonstrate how to park and reverse park
  • Perform a turn in the road (formerly known as the 3-point turn)
  • Prepare to drive your vehicle
  • Display an understanding of mirror, signal and manoeuvre
  • Perform an emergency stop

There may be other requirements but this depends on the examiner; the above list is designed as a guide and your driving instructor will go into more depth about the criteria for your test.

Preparing for the Practical Driving Test

The best way to prepare for your practical driving test is to have as much time behind the wheel of a car as you can. Obviously this is not always practical for those people who work or have families to look after, but where possible spend as much time driving in as many different conditions and types of roads (but not motorways) as you can. The more time you have behind the wheel of a car the more confident you will become and the more proficient a driver you will be.

On the day of the test you should try and book an additional lesson with your instructor before the test proper. He or she will give you some last minute advice as well as taking you along the test route in order for you to establish how the route is laid out. Many consider this to be cheating but it is not. It is common practice for driving instructors in an area where a test route is generally the same to take their pupils around the test route in an effort to familiarise them with the road layout.

The Highway Code

As well as practising your practical driving skills you should know – and continually be aware – of The Highway Code. During the course of the practical driving test your examiner may well ask you questions from the Highway Code relating to speeds on certain stretches of road, road markings and signs, and how the law dictates certain motoring situations should be handled.

Take a copy of the Highway Code with you to the Test Centre (although you will not be allowed it with you in the car) and read up on it whilst you are waiting for your test to begin. Your instructor will also spend time going through it with you while you wait.

Finally the most important piece of advice any qualified driver can give a learner driver when it comes to taking their test is: Don’t panic! The test may sound daunting and for some but keeping a level head and maintaining your composure throughout will help you no end. A driving examiner will be looking to pass drivers who are confident in their driving, are aware of what's going on aruond them and who pose no risks to other motorists or pedestrians.

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