Why you might fail

Some actions are classed as fail items. If you perform a fail item, your test will continue so you get an assessment of your driving but you will not pass. A list of all the fail items and some examples of how they may happen is provided below.

1. Disobey traffic signs, signals or road markings

Regulatory signs, traffic signals and road markings tell you what road rules apply and you must have a thorough understanding of each. Examples of this fail item include:

  • Not stopping at a red traffic light (all of your vehicle behind the line)
  • Not stopping at a yellow traffic light when safe (unless sudden braking might cause a crash)
  • Not stopping correctly at a stop line (behind and within 1m of the line). If initially you stop more than 1m from the line you must move and stop closer
  • Crossing a continuous centre line, lane line or edge line unnecessarily
  • Disobeying lane markings (transit lane, turn arrows etc)
  • Not obeying regulatory signs such as One Way, No Entry, No U-Turn, Keep Clear and Keep Left

2. Failing to give way when necessary

Examples of this fail item include not giving way:

  • To any vehicle that has priority at an intersection
  • To pedestrians at marked crossings and intersections
  • If required when entering a traffic stream, merging or lane changing

3. Colliding with a vehicle, pedestrian or object

This includes mounting or straddling a traffic dome and mounting the kerb or roundabout. You will not fail if you touch the kerb face with your wheels.

4. Performing an illegal act or manoeuvre

An illegal act or manoeuvre is anything against road rules where a regulatory traffic sign, signal or road marking is not present. Examples of this fail item include:

  • Unnecessarily driving on the wrong side of the road on unmarked roads
  • Turning from the incorrect position (e.g. starting a left turn from the right lane)
  • When turning in an arrowed lane, you do not exit to an allowed lane
  • Stopping on a pedestrian crossing or stop line when giving way to pedestrians
  • Not driving in the left lane when required
  • Making an unlawful U-Turn
  • Not using the correct lane to turn at a roundabout
  • Overtaking or passing a stationary vehicle at a pedestrian crossing
  • Entering a level crossing when it is unsafe
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Answering or using a mobile phone

5. Exceeding the speed limit

The speed limit is the maximum allowable speed for that section of road under normal conditions. You will fail if you exceed the speed limit at any time including:

  • The 40km/h limit at school zones during the hours of operation
  • The 40km/h limit when passing a bus with flashing lights
  • The learner driver speed limit
  • Speed limits at road works

6. Action requiring testing officer intervention

You will fail if the testing officer has to give you verbal or physical assistance, including using the dual controls (if available).

7. Causing a dangerous situation

Any unsafe act or behaviour that puts you or others at risk (e.g. overtaking in an unsafe manner or giving way unnecessarily).

8. Failing to maintain proper control of the vehicle

Anything that could, or does, result in you losing control of the vehicle such as:

  • Allowing the vehicle to roll back more than 50cm when moving off
  • Skidding or spinning the wheels
  • Allowing the vehicle to roll along with your foot on the clutch or in neutral
  • Not maintaining effective control of the steering wheel

9. Failing to exercise due care to avoid an accident

You will fail if a situation occurs requiring your response and you are not prepared.

10. Failing to give way to an emergency vehicle

11. Disobeying directions from a person controlling traffic

This item includes failure to obey police, emergency services or armed forces personnel, traffic controllers (e.g. at road works) and pilot vehicles.

12. Frequently not signalling intention

You will fail if you repeatedly do not signal when legally required. You must signal:

  • To give sufficient warning of your intentions when turning left or right
  • For at least 5 seconds before leaving the kerb or a parking space
  • When changing lanes, diverging or pulling over to the kerb
  • When exiting a roundabout

13. Refusing to attempt any part of the test

You are required to complete the whole test to pass and cannot refuse any part.

14. Repeated or deliberate failure to follow directions

You must follow all reasonable directions given to you by the testing officer.

15. Unreasonably obstructing other vehicles or pedestrians

This includes if you:

  • Block an intersection because there is not enough space on the other side
  • Drive significantly below the speed limit when conditions do not require it

16. Receiving external advice or instruction during the test

You will fail if you receive any external advice from a third party at any time during the test (from when you sign the score sheet until completion).

17. Not parking to the required standard

During the manoeuvres you will fail if:

  • Your car’s final position is more than 1m from the kerb or obstructing traffic
  • Your wheels are on or over marked parking lines
  • You reverse more than 7m from the vehicle in front during the reverse park

18. Failing to maintain a safe following distance

19. Frequently not performing observation checks when required

Specifically this fail item applies to checking your blind spots when you:

  • Leave or return to the kerb
  • Merge, diverge or change lanes
  • Are about to reverse, such as in a reverse parallel park and 3-point turn
  • Turn at intersections, leave or join the road
  • Cross lanes within a roundabout on exiting

You must turn your head and check it is safe to proceed when moving off after being stopped at traffic lights and railway level crossings.

Immediate fail

Even if you commit a fail item, your test will continue and you will be given a full assessment. However, in some circumstances you will not be permitted to finish and the testing officer may drive from that point. An immediate fail may occur if you:

  • Do anything which is unsafe and there is an obvious danger to the public
  • Refuse to cooperate with the testing officer and cannot be given a proper test

Test termination

Your test will be terminated and the test fee may not be refunded if any of the unsatisfactory items below cannot be rectified at the time of the test:

  1. The testing vehicle
  • Is not suitable for safe use
  • Indicator lights (including side repeaters) or brake lights do not operate, are incomplete, dirty or discoloured
  • Tyres are not in a satisfactory condition
  • Is not registered
  • Windscreen is cracked or broken so as to obscure driver’s and/or testing officer’s vision, (not including minor cracks)
  • Doesn’t have an approved and in working condition seat belt fitted for the testing officer
  • Head restraints are not fitted (vehicle manufactured after 1 January 1972)
  • Is not suitable for class of licence or type of disability
  • Has sharp edges caused by body damage
  • Has any mirror broken or damaged to the extent that it distorts vision
  • Has any wheel rim excessively damaged
  • Has any visible wheel nuts missing
  • Has any excessive under body fluid leaks
  • Dual brake is operational
  • Dual accelerator is not operational (secured out of reach or made inoperable)
  • Front passenger door or window handle is missing or inoperative
  • Does not have solid front doors (cloth or fabric doors are not acceptable)
  • Is a convertible and the roof is not capable of being covered in
  1. The testing vehicle breaks down during the test, or a large number of assessments are missed while off the test course.
  2. You demonstrate unacceptable, inappropriate or unlawful behaviour including:
  3. Attempting a bribe or any other form of corrupt conduct is suggested
  4. Extreme emotional pleas, threats or sexual advances to influence a result
  5. Repeated and persistent requests to ignore an error
  6. Threatening, abusive, aggressive or violent behaviours
  7. The driver is, or is suspected to be, under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  8. A crash occurs during the test, regardless of who is at fault.
  9. The applicant is ill, to the extent that they may not be able to drive safely.
  10. Weather conditions are bad and make the driving task too demanding.
  11. Learner driver logbook is not complete in accordance with requirements.

What happens after the test?

When you return to the registry you will wait inside until your testing officer calls you to the counter to tell you your result.

If you do not pass you will be given a test report that shows your score and where you need to improve. Testing officers will provide general comments and are not permitted to discuss specific situations or events. You should try again when you are ready.

If you are not satisfied with the way the test was conducted, please contact the manager at the registry. They will investigate and discuss the matter with you.

If you passed, you will need to pay for your P1 provisional licence.

After the test many people find it hard to concentrate because they are either elated or disappointed. Regardless of the result, it is best to allow your supervising driver to take over the driving when you leave.


Continue reading the Guide to the Driving Test Summary:

1. The Driving Test

2. Before You Start

3. Low Risk Driving

4. Vehicle Control

5. Test Results

6. Tips for Provisional Drivers

Check out the other resources available to help you pass the Practical Driving Test and get your provisional P1 licence (Red Ps):

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