Common Driving Test Mistakes

This list of common driving test mistakes is provided by GPS Driving School in Brisbane.  If you are looking for expert driving lessons from a school with a very high first time pass rate, please give us a call.

Listed below are many examples of the common driving test mistakes learners make during their driving test, along with, what criteria your Driving Examiner can apply to these mistakes.

Whilst this information is not exhaustive, it provides a more detailed insight into common driving test mistakes students commit and what this mean in terms of passing or failing your Q-Safe practical driving test.

Throughout your practical driving test, your Driving Examiner will apply a range of assessment criteria to your drive and these are divided into two main categories, Critical and Non-critical.

You are allowed to commit up to (8) Non-critical driving errors and still pass.

If you commit even one (1) Critical driving error you will fail your test.

Repeated instances of the same driving test mistake, for example, poor steering, indication, road position or shoulder checking could be classed as a specific repeated driving error. This can be recorded as a critical driving error, resulting in an unsuccessful test.

One of the most important lessons to undertake prior to your actual driving test is a mock test or practise test. This lesson is a carbon copy experience of what you can expect from your Driving Examiner and how they assess your drive. We focus your driving lesson to help you practise and gain valuable experience driving within the strict test criteria and learning how to eliminate these common driving test mistakes altogether.

The list of common driving test mistakes is divided into three broad sections.

  1. Vehicle Operation
  2. Vehicle Control
  3. Observation, Progress, Hazard Perception and Decision Making


Non-critical driving error: NCDE – GREEN          

Critical driving errors: CDE- RED

Section 1: Vehicle Operation

Ancillary Controls

  • Operates any ancillary controls incorrectly or inappropriately.
  • Wearing a seatbelt that is incorrectly fitted or adjusted.
  • Fails to start engine (because of incorrect gear selection in automatic vehicle).
  • Assumes the engine is running when it is not.
  • Fails to wear seatbelt when legally required.
  • Uses handheld mobile phone when vehicle moving or stationary (but not parked).


  • Excessively and continuously rides the clutch.
  • Rests foot on clutch when not being operated for more than 15 seconds.
  • Coasts with clutch depressed for a duration of between 3 and 5 seconds.

Operates clutch in a manner which compromises the safe operation or the vehicle.


  • Stalls the vehicle for any reason.
  • Stalling that causes obstruction to traffic and contributes to a dangerous situation.


  • Selects inappropriate gear for situation.
  • Coasts in neutral for 3 – 5 seconds.
  • Fails to re-select drive gear appropriately during the auto gear change exercise.
  • Changes gear or attempts to change gear without using clutch.
  • Demonstrates serious lack of knowledge & ability to change gears appropriately for speed control, vehicle control or driving conditions.
  • Coasts in neutral for duration of more than 5 seconds.


  • Operates in an uncontrolled manner.
  • Revs engine excessively while clutch disengaged or partially disengaged.
  • Operates in manner which compromises safety.


  • Fails to secure vehicle with either handbrake or footbrake when stationary.
  • Rolls on grade where safety is not compromised.
  • Applies footbrakes heavily during turn.
  • Unnecessarily brakes abruptly causing following vehicles to take evasive action.
  • Rolls on grade where safety is compromised
  • Leaves handbrake on affecting performance.


  • Does not steer steady course
  • Operates steering wheel incorrectly
  • Loses control of steering.
  • Removes both hands from the wheel when vehicle is in motion.


  • Fails to set indicator with sufficient warning.
  • Fails to indicate to exit roundabout.
  • Fails to cancel indicator within 5 seconds after turn etc.
  • Indicates incorrectly causing a dangerous situation where other road users need to take evasive action.

Section 2: Vehicle Control

Road Position

  • Fails to stay within lane.
  • Fails to keep left.
  • Unnecessarily drives in right lane.
  • Note: Applies on multilane roads where there are “keep left unless overtaking” signs or speed limit over 80 Kph
  • Drives with less than one third of the vehicle on the incorrect side of the road.
  • Inappropriate course while travelling straight ahead through a multi-lane intersection.
  • Stops on crest or curve (outside a built up area) with less than 100m visibility to rear.
  • 1/3 or more of vehicle unnecessarily on incorrect side of road.

Left Turn Position

  • After commencing tum does not position near as practicable to left of road.
  • Encroaches onto adjacent lane on approach to turn.
  • Because of incorrect positioning causes other vehicle to take evasive action.
  • 1/3 or more of vehicle unnecessarily on incorrect side of road in turning situation.

Right Turn Position

  • Approaches turn not within lane or not as close as practicable to right or centre.
  • Positions front wheels to right when waiting to turn when not appropriate.
  • Wide turn (unnecessarily left of centre of intersection
  • U-turn on multi-lane roundabout from left lane.
  • 1/3 or more of vehicle unnecessarily on incorrect side of road when turning.

Safety margins

  • Follows less than 2 sec but more than I sec.
  • Maintains less than l.2m side distance from parked vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, oncoming traffic at normal road speeds.
  • Stops too close to vehicle ahead.
  • Follows closer than 1 sec (2 sec in wet or adverse conditions).
  • Fails to maintain safe distance when; passing or overtaking – roadside obstacles, pedestrians or cyclists on a road, road related area or shared lane.

Section 3: Observation, Progress, Hazard Perception and Decision Making

Observation and Scanning

  • Does not perform shoulder check.
  • Fails to scan & observe primarily to the rear of the vehicle while reversing.
  • Diverts attention from the driving task for inappropriate period of time.
  • Diverts eyes from direction of travel including: conducting blind spot checks in a manner that compromises safety.
  • Nil observation to the rear when reversing.


  • Does not check mirrors before: slowing stopping; turning, changing lanes, merging and approaching hazards.
  • Stares into mirrors for prolonged period of time.

Traffic Hazard

  • Does not respond appropriately or quickly enough for traffic hazard.


  • Does not appropriately judge speed & distance of other vehicles while negotiating intersections, lane changes and when merging.
  • Stops appropriately but does not proceed when safe.
  • Stops unnecessarily.
  • Gives way unnecessarily.
  • Enters blocked intersection or level crossing causing obstruction.
  • When turning right & after moving into intersection on green light, fails to leave intersection when lights turns amber or red.
  • Fails to give way.
  • Fails to Stop


  • Fails to adjust speed appropriately when merging.
  • Accelerates too rapidly or too slowly for the prevailing traffic conditions.
  • Drives continually too slow for the situation where the conditions do not require it.
  • Drives too fast for situation, (for example: adverse weather conditions or approaching a pedestrian/children’s crossing), and in doing so compromising safety.

Signs, signals and road markings

  • Stop marginally over stop line.
  • Disobeys “Through Traffic Keep Right” (or similar) signs.
  • Fails to enter intersection on green light when turning right.
  • Demonstrates poor knowledge/understanding of traffic signals.
  • Unnecessarily crosses a continuous line separating lanes.
  • Disobeys regulatory sign, signal or road markings including “Keep Clear”.
  • Driving onto railway crossing while red lights are flashing
  • Unnecessarily drives right of double centre line.
  • Disobeys stop sign or line.
  • Stopping vehicle over stop line causing potentially dangerous situation.


  • Exceeds posted speed limit by 1 Kph or more.


  • Applicant applies incorrect sequence to system of vehicle control.

GPS Driving School

We encourage you to aim for success and invest in pre-test driving lessons with GPS Driving School. These lessons are comprehensive and tailored to provide specific feedback on the skill areas you need most help with. We ensure your driving knowledge and skills comply with the Q-Safe criteria. We teach you how to safeguard your result, by avoiding the common driving test mistakes other learner drivers commit.

For more information on your driving test, including booking a practical driving test or participating in a mock test, please contact your GPS Driving School Instructor, Trevor on 0430 284 285

common driving test mistakes