Instant Fail in Driving Test (MUST AVOID)

By Omid
Driving Test Info

Taking a driving test can be a nerve-wracking decision to make, no matter if it is your first or third time. It is important to take a few driving lessons beforehand to become familiar with road rules and to enhance your driving skills. Once you are prepared, you may be curious about what could cause you to fail the test. We have compiled nine main points to look out for in your driving test.
In this article, we will discuss what are the instant fails in a driving test that you should avoid doing. But before we get into that, let's first learn what determines an instant fail!

Critical Driving Error

A Critical Driving Error (CDE) is an action made by students during a driving test that compromises the safety of any road user. It also demonstrates a lack of skills or ability behind the wheel. If a CDE occurs, the test is automatically terminated and the student will be directed back to the test centre as soon as possible. Remember, earning only ONE CDE will result in a fail in the test.

Examples of an Instant Fail (situations):

Ancillary Controls

  • Failure to wear a seatbelt. Make it a habit to wear your seatbelt when you sit behind the wheel so you won't miss it when you take your test. It may cause you to fail your test if you drive off without wearing your seatbelt.

Car Operation

  • Losing control of the steering wheel. This can either be a result of taking one or both hands off the steering wheel while the vehicle is in motion. For example, palming with one hand or removing hands when turning the steering wheel.


  • Abrupt brakes. One example of dangerous driving is sudden braking. This can occur when drivers are confused by road markings or take too long to understand the examiner's instructions. Abrupt braking can cause other drivers to take evasive action, resulting in a collision and an immediate fail in the test.
    • Note: If you apply the brakes too forcefully and suddenly, it can cause the wheels to lock and skid.
  • Keeping handbrake up. Some students forget to disengage their handbrake before driving. This can cause a drag on the wheel, making it difficult to control the vehicle. If this results in a dangerous situation, the driver will be issued a CDE.

Road Position

  • Incorrect side of the road. Some students have difficulty positioning their car correctly on the road. If more than one-third of your vehicle is on the wrong side, you will be marked down.
  • Too close to a centre line or kerb. This could jeopardize the safety of other road users or collide with the curb.


  • Unsuccessful reversing manoeuvre. You must complete two of six manoeuvres, one of which must involve reversing, e.g. reverse parallel parking. If you fail to complete the reversing manoeuvre within two attempts, your test result will be a fail.

Observation and Judgment

  • Failing to scan and observe. For example, failing to scan at an intersection and then proceeding to drive can create a dangerous situation for other vehicles or pedestrians. If your instructor has to physically or verbally intervene due to your bad judgment, you will receive a CDE mark.

Signs and Signalling

  • Disobeying traffic signs. You must obey all traffic signals, road markings, and people with authority (e.g. police, traffic enforcers, and children crossing supervisors). Failing to do so, whether deliberately or accidentally, will result in a failed test. Make sure not to miss any traffic signs while driving! Here's a video to help you stay alert.

  • One common mistake for drivers is incorrect signaling. Make sure you turn on the correct signal light to which direction you’re turning. It is a critical error if you make a mistake with your signal light and cause a dangerous situation.

Another point to remember is to not activate your signal light too late or too early. Make sure to turn on your signal for long enough to give sufficient warning to other drivers, and turn it off once you have completed the maneuver. This is to ensure you don’t cause confusion to other drivers and cause a collision.

Safety Margin

  • Failing to maintain a safe distance. Driving too close to the front car is dangerous. If the front car brakes suddenly, a collision is likely.
  • Aside from maintaining a safe following distance, you also have to be careful when in close proximity to these:
    • stationary or moving vehicles
    • roadside obstacles
    • pedestrians walking on the road, roadside, or in a shared zone

Driving according to Condition

  • Driving too slowly? Yes, it's true. Driving too slowly for the situation can result in a failed test. For example, if you merge onto a highway with a speed limit of 90 km/h, you should aim to reach that speed (if all other cars are driving at that speed). It's acceptable to drive up to 5km/h below the speed limit.

Be mindful of your speed. Exceeding the speed limit can result in an automatic fail.

  • When driving, be aware of the weather. Reduce your speed if it's raining or there is debris on the road. Poor weather can make driving hazardous.

These are the more common mistakes beginners and even returning drivers make during a driving test. It is important to take these into consideration before taking the driving test. Taking a few driving lessons and preparing your mind to be calm for your driving test will help you to achieve your goal.

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