The average pass rate for the practical driving test in the UK is 47%.
According to the DVSA, the most common reasons for failing the driving test is observing junctions correctly, looking at mirrors correctly when changing direction and controlling the vehicle throughout the test. In fact, 39% of all accidents in Great Britain in 2017 were due to a driver failing to look properly.
We caught up with a local driving instructor from London, Taz Uddin, to understand what most young drivers struggle with when learning to drive and to get some tips on how to pass your driving test.
1. How long have you been teaching people to drive?
Just under 4 years as an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor).
2. What do you enjoy most about being a driving instructor?
I have to say the reactions and emotions that some of my current and previous pupils have when they’ve completed a task that I’ve set and they can do it independently.
And of course, when the ‘big day’ arrives and students achieve the main goal of obtaining their full UK driver’s licence. The joy alone makes the job I do all worth it!
3. What would you say are the biggest concerns or fears young drivers have?
It’s always scary joining traffic for the first time. Many students worry about roundabouts a lot and there’s a fear of driving on the motorway with young drivers – even though technically they’re the safest roads.
When young drivers approach the test date though, the biggest concern they have is actually the price of the insurance premiums, and I have to agree and side with them.
4. What are the most common mistakes young drivers make during driving lessons?
That’s a tough one! Each student comes with different levels of understanding. It’s a very thin line but I would have to say making progress with confidence and undue hesitation. It’s usually the nerves that lead up to mistakes.
5. What seems to be the easiest thing for new drivers to learn?
It all depends on the instructor and also the age of the student, but if I have to generalise, I would say the ‘Cockpit Drill’ (setting up and adjusting seats/mirrors) or as it’s more commonly known, the ‘Control Lesson’. Students can easily find that comfortable position that feels safe inside the car – getting on the road is a whole different thing of course.
6. What advice would you give to young drivers when driving on rural roads vs. urban roads?
Anticipate and plan well ahead is the key thing to remember – always, but especially when driving on a rural road. On rural roads you’ll find that sometimes the national speed limit may apply, then several yards later it could drop back down to 30mph (when travelling through a small town etc.).
Also, you may find more bends, combined with roads without pavements, reduced visibility and you can guess the rest… It might seem like a good environment to relax behind the wheel and enjoy the scenery, but reading the road ahead is critical in rural areas.
7. What do you think causes the most accidents with young drivers?
Distractions such as mobile phones; one of the larger contributing causes of accidents today, especially in the younger generation, thus the government is clamping down on the use of mobile phones while in control of a motor vehicle. “Make the glove box the phone box”.
8. Is there a difference in attitude and ability to learn between different ages in students?
In most cases, I’d say yes. Learning anything new as we get older tends to get harder. Many factors have an impact; in driving, judgement seems to take a back seat at times, and spatial awareness may be affected with age.
When teaching younger students, I find that they pick up skills a lot quicker and are more eager to learn in comparison to some of my older students (45-60 years of age).
9. Are there any differences between males and females when it comes to learning to drive?
I’ve found over the years that female pupils generally put their ego aside while in lessons, whereas some of the male pupils tend to not take the lesson as seriously so they take more risks, like speeding. This slows down their own learning process.
10. Who would you say are the most dangerous drivers?
From experience and widely available facts, I would say males aged from 17 to 21. Some need their invincibility powers taken away, I might say! Things like parents taking part in young drivers’ learning or having a black box installed in the car to monitor driving or a dashcam are good options for young males.
11. What tips would you give to someone just starting driving lessons?
Building a solid foundation is key to keeping a building up. Same goes for learning to drive. Don’t try to rush the learning process. Try not to compare yourself to friends who have magically “passed their driving test with 5 lessons”.
Remember that your instructor is training you for a skill for life. And most importantly, once you’ve achieved your goal and obtained your licence, the learning will carry on. Issues will occur the day you stop learning.
12. What advice would you give for someone about to take their driving test?
The main thing is to try and keep calm and stay focused during the test. If you make a mistake, don’t let that affect the rest of the test – breathing techniques can help. Just carry on and finish the test as the outcome will not be determined until the end of the examination.
Have a good night’s sleep before your test day to maximise your concentration. And if the worst happens and you don’t pass this time, listen to the examiner’s feedback with your instructor present and iron out issues in a few lessons, and re-book.
S.London Driving School is a driving school based in South East London that covers SE1 and the surrounding postcodes. They provide Manual and Automatic lessons, Pass Plus Courses as well as Refresher Lessons for full licence holders, and much more. Bulk booking discounts are also provided.
You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – search for Taz’s Auto Learners (Automatic Lessons) or Noji’s Learners (Manual Lessons).