Skills you need to pass your driving test
Learning to drive opens up a new world of independence. But it also comes with responsibility. It’s important that you learn the skills you need to become a safe driver, not only to pass the driving test, but for the rest of your life.
The skills you need to learn
There are 27 skills you should learn to become a safe driver and pass your driving test. These skills are split into 8 groups:
- Control and positioning
- Observations, signalling and planning
- Junctions, roundabouts and crossings
- Road types
- Driving conditions
- Following routes
1. Legal responsibilities
As a driver, it’s your responsibility to know how the law relates to both yourself and your vehicle. Make sure that you’re up-to-date with the rules and regulations.
2. Safety checks
It’s important that your car be in good working order before you start the engine. You should be aware of what to check, how to do it and how often to do it.
3. Cockpit checks
These checks may be simple, but they’re essential. The car you’re using needs to be comfortable and ready for you to drive before you start the engine.
This covers not only the security of your vehicle but also its contents and your personal security. You need to be aware of the ways that you can reduce the risks.
Control and positioning
5. Controls and instruments
You need to concentrate on what’s happening around you when you’re driving, so operating the vehicle’s controls should become second nature.
6. Moving away and stopping
You have to move away and stop every time you drive, and that’s why it’s so important to make sure that you know how to move away and stop safely.
7. Safe positioning
Make sure that you drive in the correct position for the road on which you’re travelling. It’s important not only for your safety but also for the safety of other road users.
Observations, signalling and planning
8. Mirrors – vision and use
You must know what’s happening around you at all times and act safely on what you see.
It’s important to understand, and respond safely to, signals given by other motorists. You should always give clear, well-timed signals to other road users so that they know what you’re planning to do.
10. Anticipation and planning
These are the core skills of all areas of driving. You should always be aware of what’s going on around you and plan what you need to do in response. Planning ahead can also make your driving more efficient. You can save fuel and wear on your brakes if you ease off the accelerator earlier.
11. Use of speed
Base your speed on factors such as the road conditions, weather, traffic and pedestrians. Always drive within the speed limit.
12. Other traffic
In most cases, when you’re driving, there will be other traffic on the road. You need to be able to deal safely and confidently when meeting, crossing and overtaking other vehicles.
Most of the time when you’re driving, there will be other traffic on the road. You should feel safe and confident when meeting, crossing and overtaking other vehicles.
13. Fuel-efficient driving
Everything from the type of car and the fuel it uses to the way in which you drive influences the environment. You should understand how to reduce any negative effects to keep the air we breathe cleaner.
Junctions, roundabouts and crossings
There are many different types of junction. You should be able to negotiate any junction on any type of road safely, without holding up other traffic.
You should have a thorough understanding of the rules that apply when approaching and going around a roundabout.
16. Pedestrian crossings
You should be aware of the basic rules that apply to all pedestrian crossings. You also need to know the differences between each type of crossing.
You should be able to reverse smoothly and safely while under complete control. This includes reversing to the left and right around sweeping curves and sharp corners.
18. Turning the car around
To turn your vehicle around, it’s often easiest and safest to use a roundabout or reverse into a side street. If these options are not available, you may need to turn your vehicle around in the road.
Whether you’re parking at the side of the road or using a bay in a car park, you need to gain the skills to do this safely before you drive on your own.
20. Emergency stop
Effective scanning and reading of the road ahead will cut down the risk of having to make an emergency stop. If it’s unavoidable, brake as quickly as possible while keeping the car under full control.
21. Country roads
Country roads vary from trunk roads, carrying heavy traffic, to narrow lanes, where there’s only room for single-file traffic.
Unless signs show otherwise, the national speed limit will apply. This limit is the top speed you may drive, it doesn’t always mean that it’s safe to drive at that speed. Always adjust your speed for hazards, other traffic and the road and weather conditions.
22. Dual carriageways
Some dual carriageways share the same speed limit as motorways. You also join some dual carriageways from a slip road, the same way you would join a motorway.
Unlike a motorway, though, dual carriageways can have junctions and roundabouts. Traffic can join, leave, cross and turn right from the carriageway.
Although motorway driving isn’t part of the practical driving test, learners can have driving lessons on motorways. These must be with an approved driving instructor (ADI) in a car fitted with dual controls that’s clearly displaying L plates.
The Highway Code has specific rules about motorway driving, though many of the other rules apply to motorway driving too. Your driving instructor will be able to tell you when you’re ready to take lessons on the motorway. It’s recommended that this only takes place near the end of your training, when you’re ready to take your driving test.
24. Driving in the dark
There are many factors that make driving in the dark more hazardous. Judging speed at night can be difficult, so be particularly careful at junctions.
25. Weather conditions
Aim to get experience in different weather conditions. It’s important to understand the effect conditions like fog and low sun can have on visibility. Other conditions, such as ice, snow and rain, can affect the way that your vehicle handles.
26. Passengers and loads
As a driver, you need to understand your responsibilities to passengers, whether they’re adults or children. You should also know how to secure any items that you’re transporting.
27. Independent driving and using a sat nav
Independent driving is an exercise you’ll have to carry out during your driving test. You’ll have to follow directions from a sat nav or follow a series of traffic signs. This gives you the chance to experience what it will be like to drive after you’ve passed your test.
Resources, information and tips on how to gain the knowledge and learn the skills you need to pass your diving test.
When learning to drive, you’ll pass through 5 levels of progress for each of the 27 skills. Learn about these levels and how you can keep track of your progress.
Check you’re ready to pass
You’ll usually be ready to take your driving test when:
1. You do not need prompts from your driving instructor.
2. You do not make serious or dangerous mistakes when you’re driving.
3. You can pass mock driving tests.
4. You have practised ways of managing your nerves.
5. Your driving instructor agrees you’re ready.
Not feeling quite ready?
You can move your driving test back if you’re not feeling quite ready yet.
It’s free to change your appointment time, as long as you do it at least 3 full working days (Mondays to Saturdays) before your test.