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9 Common Mistakes Made During Driver’s Tests

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Getting a driver’s license is a right of passage for most people. Whether you get it the day you turn 16, or years down the road, it’s exciting and momentous. But licenses aren’t just handed out. You have to actually earn yours by taking a test.

In theory, these tests are easy enough. But there are a lot of little things that can go wrong. Here are nine of the most common things that people forget when at the DMV for their driver’s exam.

Forgetting turn signals

If you’ve been driving for a while, then using your turn signals is probably baked into your driving routine. Chances are, you use them without even thinking about it. But when you’re just learning how to drive, they can be as easy thing to forget. The instructor tells you to make a turn, and you get tunnel vision about when and where to turn. When that happens, it’s easy to forget the little things.

Driving too slow

Yes, you read that correctly. People often forget to drive fast enough. You obviously don’t want to drive too fast on your license exam. But you don’t want to doddle, either. Driving significantly below the speed limit is not only unsafe, but illegal. It can earn you a ticket and be the cause of a failed driving test. When you get nervous, it’s easy to accidentally start driving overly cautiously.

Improper lane changing

It’s really easy to forget how to properly lane change, especially in the heat of the moment. There’s a whole routine you need to go through when changing lanes. You need to look in not just your rear view mirror, but also your side mirror. Then you need to turn on your signal, and look over your shoulder to check your blindspots. Finally, you need to actually change the lane in a safe and legal manner. That means making sure you’re not cutting anyone off, passing through a solid line, and or making a lane change in an intersection. That’s a lot to remember, and if you know there’s no one else on the road it can be easy to skip a step or two. But that will get you in trouble.


It sounds obvious to say that you should avoid tailgating while taking your license test, but it happens with great regularity. A lot of people try and avoid the aforementioned slow driving by following the speed of traffic, which means going the same speed as the person in front of you. But you don’t have to be right behind them when you do this! Don’t let nerves get the better of you.

Driving too fast

When the nerves of a driver’s license test hit, it can be easy to have your sense of time messed up. Remember that a driving exam isn’t a timed test. You can take your time with things. Many drivers try to do everything as quickly as they can. This can result in doing a poor parking job, because you’re not taking the time to do it right. Or it can mean rolling through a stop sign, because you’re too focused on making the turn. Take a deep breath, and remember that some aspects of driving don’t need to be quick.

Not scanning for pedestrians

It can’t be said often enough: Pedestrians have the right of way. Once you’re in the driver’s seat, it’s really easy to focus on the road, and only the road. But if you do that, you’ll miss the things on the edge of the road, and it can cost you your license. Keep your eye out for pedestrians, and yield when you see them.

Forgetting the speed limit

You might notice that the speed limit keeps changing while you’re on your driving test. It might feel like an unlucky coincidence. It’s not. Driving instructors often take drivers on roads where the speed limit frequently changes, just to throw something extra at you. It’s easy to miss the signs when the speed limit changes, so try and stay alert. Not only do you need to be able to drive the speed limit, but the instructor could quiz you.

Forgetting your turn

Most driving tests will take you to an all-way stop sign. These can be confusing and a little panic-inducing for new drivers, who may forget when it’s their turn to go.

Not checking mirrors

Drivers taking their exam have a tendency to just focus on the road directly in front of them, and forget about some of the subtleties and safety precautions of driving a car. One of the easiest things to forget is to check your mirrors. You should be glancing at your rear view mirror every few seconds, and monitoring both of your side mirrors when you’re on the freeway. These little things may seem inconsequential, but instructors are paying attention to them.