What to Expect In Your Driving Test

Not sure what to expect on the day of your driving test? Not to worry. Whether you’re taking your driving test in Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow, Kildare, or anywhere else around Ireland, the process and rules will be the same. Don’t be caught off guard. Be sure to take time to read the information sent with your appointment confirmation letter as well as the info we’ve provided below so that you arrive fully prepared on the day.

Day of the Driving Test

It is critical that you arrive at the driving test centre before the appointed time of your test. If you are late, the test cannot be conducted and you’ll lose the fee. Check your appointment letter for further information on vehicle road-worthiness. This short video below from the RSA will also help you as you prepare.

Before the Test

Before getting started, the driver tester will check your learner permit to ensure that it meets the following criteria:

• relates to you
• is current and is valid on the day of the test
• is for the correct category of vehicle

You will be asked to read and sign a statement confirming that the insurance cover in place is adequate and your vehicle is in roadworthy condition.

What to Expect During Your Driving Test

The driving test itself is very straightforward. For cars, it will last about 40 minutes and will include:
• questions on the Rules of the Road (including
identifying road signs); demonstrating hand signals
• reversing round a corner
• a turnabout in the road
• a hill start
• driving approximately 8 kms under a variety of road and traffic conditions

Important to Note:
Remember if you take and pass the test in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, your driving licence will only cover you to drive an automatic vehicle.

Your driver tester will assess your driving skills in the following situations:
• moving off
• driving in traffic
• stopping
• reversing round a corner
• turning about to face in the opposite direction
• starting on a hill
• parking
• road positioning
• overtaking and passing
• anticipation and observation
• use of mirrors and signals
• progress
• speed
• compliance with traffic lights, road signs & markings
• use of the vehicle controls
(accelerator, clutch, gears, brakes and steering)
• use of secondary controls such as wipers, demisters, etc

Other aspects of the driving test will check that:
• you know how to operate the secondary controls, such as windscreen wipers and washers, demisters, rear window heater, lights and air-conditioning where fitted.
You must also know how to adjust the seat, seat-belt, head restraint and mirrors and ensure the doors are closed
• in the case of a motorcycle test, you must be able to remove the motorcycle from its stand. You must also know how to adjust your helmet. Motorcyclists must also demonstrate a braking manoeuvre and an “avoid the obstacle” manoeuvre
• in the case of a vehicle and trailer, you must know how to uncouple and recouple the trailer from/to the drawing vehicle
• in the case of a heavy vehicle test, you must know how to check the power-assisted braking and steering systems, and how to use any retarder or exhaust brake as fitted to the vehicle
• you know how to perform a check on the tyres, lights, reflectors, indicators, engine oil, coolant, windscreen washer fluid, steering, brakes and horn. For motorcyclists, the checks can also include the chain, and the emergency stop-switch, if fitted.
• In the case of a bus test, you must also know how to operate the fuel shut-off valve, the main power switch, and how to manually open and close any powered doors as fitted to the vehicle

Important to Note:
Passengers other than the driver tester and/or RSA officials are not permitted to accompany you in the vehicle during the practical test. The tester may be accompanied on test for training/supervisory purposes.
While the accompanying officer may take notes, s/he has no input into the conduct or outcome of the test.

Things you should know:

• the driver tester will realise that you may be nervous and will try to put you at ease
• unlike your instructor, the driver tester will not offer you encouragement or advice. You should not be put off by this formal approach which is designed to ensure fairness to all applicants
• while you will be given clear directions throughout the test, should you not understand a particular direction, ask the tester to repeat or clarify it
• if you make a mistake, do not worry unduly. It may not be as serious as it appears and may not mean you have failed your test
• a supervisory tester may accompany the tester – this is quite normal

Common Reasons for Driving Test Failure:

While there are certainly many ways to fail a driving test, here’s a list of the most common causes of failed driving tests in Ireland so you know what to avoid.

• inadequate observation moving off, at junctions, at roundabouts and when changing lanes
• failure to anticipate the actions of other drivers
• incorrect road position on the straight, on bends,
turning left, turning right, at roundabouts, and when overtaking
• inadequate progress at junctions, roundabouts, on the straight, and when overtaking
• incorrect, inadequate or inappropriate use of mirrors and signals
• non-compliance with traffi c controls, e.g. road signs and markings and traffi c lights
• incorrect inadequate or inappropriate use of vehicle controls, including gears, clutch, accelerator, steering, handbrake, footbrake, and secondary controls
• excessive speed for the road or traffi c conditions
• failure to yield the right of way to others
• lack of competence in the reverse and turnabout manoeuvres

Things that contribute to failed driver tests by motorcyclists also include:

• failure to perform a ‘u’ turn correctly
• inadequate control at slow speed
• inadequate observations to the rear
• incorrect or inadequate hand-signals
• lack of competence in specific manoeuvres

The list of faults highlighted above is by no means exhaustive. You should carefully study the Rules of the Road and get as much practice as possible, in all types of traffic situations, in preparation for your driving test.

Your Driving Test Result

What happens if I pass my driving test?

If you pass your driving test, you will get a certificate of competency to drive. This enables you to apply to your local Motor Taxation Office for a full driving licence. The certificate is valid for two years. You should take out a full licence within that period or you will be obliged to pass the driving test again in order to obtain a full licence (for this reason you should apply for your full licence immediately)
Remember, passing the driving test is not the end of the learning process; so continue to drive carefully and build up your experience in different traffic, weather, lighting and road conditions.

What happens if I fail my driving test?

If you fail your driving test, you will receive a detailed report on the faults which occurred during the test. Pay particular attention to these when preparing for your next test without, of course, neglecting other aspects of your driving. A person aggrieved by a decision of a driving test may appeal to the appropriate District Court under Section 33 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961. The District Court may either refuse the appeal or, if satisfied that the test was not properly conducted, direct that the applicant be given a further test without payment of another fee.

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