As the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reveals the top 10 reasons why learner drivers fail their tests, we ask what’s the value in creating a top 10?
Last year, the DVSA carried out almost 1.7 million driving tests. If you’ve ever driven our hire vans or rental cars in Leeds on a weekend, it can sometimes feel as though all of them are in front of you. You might be surprised to know, however, that most people (917,214 to be precise) failed. The DVSA recently published its top 10 reasons why learners failed their test, and observation errors (at junctions and in using mirrors) took the lion’s share, accounting for 40% of the total errors.
The full top 10 was as follows:
- Junctions – observation
- Mirrors – change direction
- Control – steering
- Junctions – turning right
- Move off – safely
- Response to signs – traffic lights
- Move off – control
- Positioning – normal driving
- Response to signs – road markings
- Reverse park – control
All of which is interesting, but does publishing a league table of driving errors make a difference?
According to driving examiners, it does.
Speaking to This Is Money, Chief driving examiner Mark Winn said: “Failing to look properly at junctions is the most common serious or dangerous test fault and the largest cause of accidents in Britain. Good observation, including proper use of mirrors, is a crucial skill that drivers must learn.”
Driving Instructor Association chief executive Carly Brookfield added: “Highlighting the top ten reasons for driving test failure is extremely useful in focusing minds as the failings mirror the riskier elements of driving which result in accidents when they’re licensed.”
And yet, this year wasn’t the first time the DVSA had published its Top 10. New drivers are still failing for the same reasons. And once qualified, they’re still more likely to have accidents for those very same reasons.
Of course, you don’t have to be young to be a new driver, but the majority of new drivers are young people, and as road safety charity Brake notes, the “combination of youth and inexperience puts younger drivers at high risk. Their inexperience means they have less ability to spot hazards, and their youth means they are particularly likely to take risks.”
That’s why insurers charge more to insure young drivers. It’s why car rental companies like ours only hire vehicles to over 25s.
So is a top 10 of driving failures anything more than an interesting footnote?
We still believe so. Because the greater the focus, the more likely it is that driving instructors and examiners will be particularly hot on these particular offences. And even though that will never remove all accidents, if it can make the roads a little safer for our vehicle rental customers and everyone else, that has to be a good thing.