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Motor Mouth articles 2009

Drivers failing the test of time

EVER wondered how you’d get on if you had to re-sit your test after years as a driver? No, nor have I, actually.  

In all probability, I’d pass so spectacularly that the examiner would be lost for words. But there are plenty of experienced drivers who would fail.

In fact, a recent experiment challenging British drivers to re-take their test actually resulted in a 50 per cent failure rate.

The scheme was set up by carmakers Kia and some of the candidates who allowed themselves to be used as guinea-pigs had held a full licence for more than 30 years. 

The 50 per cent pass rate seems pretty grim but at least it’s better than the 42 per cent average pass rate for new drivers.

The idea of the test was to raise awareness of driving standards and to highlight the potentially dangerous traits embedded in the habits of long-term drivers.

Half the failing candidates committed what was classified as a ‘major’ cock-up during the examination – a dangerous driving office for which they would be instantly failed.

One narrowly missed a pedestrian who stepped out into the street between parked cars. But at least he missed him.

The most frequent fault committed by the test candidates was poor observation.  Drivers were lax when checking mirrors and looking over their shoulders to check blind spots, with two-thirds forgetting to look before moving off.  

The candidates were put through their paces by examiner Damien Burke from Blue School of Motoring.

The most common faults he identified among the re-sitters were dithering at junctions, speeding in built-up areas, bad positioning in the road, driving too close to the car in front and forgetting to signal at junctions.

Other common errors included failing to check mirrors when pulling away, reversing with only one hand on the wheel, not checking the mirror before an emergency stop, failing to apply the handbrake at junctions and poor general observation.

Mr Burke also highlighted a number of bad habits among the drivers. His list includes crossing hands on the steering wheel, coasting, speeding up to a junction, riding the clutch on an incline and poor anticipation.

He said afterwards: “All of the candidates demonstrated faults in their driving that could compromise their own safety and that of other road users at some point during their test.

“The general trend among first time drivers shows that boys are over-confident and frequently pulled up for speeding, whereas girls are more intelligent drivers on the whole, but collect fault marks for hesitation. Despite many years behind the wheel, our experienced drivers demonstrated the same gender-specific flaws.”

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