Can I Refuse to Demonstrate a Driving Test Manoeuvre?

When learning to drive, everyone has that one thing that they simply cannot do. It might be parallel parking or reversing around a corner. But every lesson you dread it coming up. Because no matter how many times you practice, you always end up clenching your jaw, sweating, and biting back the swear words. And it can be miserable, changing what is often a generally positive experience, into something you’d rather avoid. So, one of the questions we often get asked is if it’s possible to refuse to demonstrate a requested manoeuvre on your driving test. Here’s what you need to know.

Can I Refuse to Demonstrate a Manoeuvre on My Driving Test?

Can you refuse to perform a manoeuvre on your practical driving test?

Short answer, no. While, technically, you can decline to perform the manoeuvre, it will lead to a driving test fail. If there is a good reason for it, you can ask to defer the manoeuvre until later in the test. But that is only applicable if, for example, you cannot find a safe place to perform it.

It’s fairly common to be uncomfortable with certain driving manoeuvres. The best thing you can do to prepare for your driving test is to fully familiarise yourself with the manoeuvres. And to practice them.

Which manoeuvres are part of the current driving test?

As of November 2023, all learner drivers are required to complete one of four potential manoeuvres on their practical driving test. Your examiner will randomly select from the following:

Forward Bay Parking

This is one of the most common manoeuvres you will encounter as a driver. So, driving test aside, it is vital that you learn how to complete this successfully. To make things easier for yourself, where possible, select a bay with an empty space either side. Position your vehicle to the left, leaving plenty of room to move, then check your mirror and blind spots. Once you’re sure the road is clear, gently press the accelerator while quickly turning the steering wheel to a full lock. When you’ve reached the required position, slowly drive forward. It’s fine to make adjustments to straighten up your vehicle – just be sure to check your mirrors and blind spots first. Once you’re happy with your position, stop the car and put on your handbrake.

To leave the bay, check your mirrors and blind spots again. Remove your handbrake and slowly reverse, staying aware of the potential for pedestrians and other vehicles to cross your path. Once clear of the bay, complete a half turn, change to first gear, indicate, conduct visual checks, and move off.

Reverse Bay Parking

Position your car in the centre of the road to ensure that you have enough room to manoeuvre, driving approximately two car lengths beyond the bay you’re intending to park in. Turn your steering wheel into a full lock, check your mirrors, blind spots, and both front and rear windscreen, then slowly reverse towards your bay. Continue to check your mirrors as you reverse, adjusting your position as you go. Once you are fully within the bay, stop the car and engage your handbrake.

To leave your bay, put the car into first gear, indicate the direction you are intending to turn, and perform visual checks. Then, slowly, pull out from the bay.

Parallel Parking

Parallel parking is probably the most feared off driving manoeuvres. But if you take your time and work methodically, it’s easy to get it right. Start by pulling alongside the car you intend to park behind. Check your mirrors and blind spots and fully lock the steering wheel. Slowly reverse towards the parking space, aligning your rear tyres with the rear bumper of the vehicle you will be parking behind. Pause here, to again check your mirrors and blind spots. Reversing slowly, you now neem to give your steering wheel one full turn. When you see the kerb in your wing mirror and the vehicle in front is clear, turn the steering wheel again another turn, gently guiding your car until you are parallel with the kerb. Before turning off your engine, check that you have left enough space in front and behind you for the cars either side to pull out. Then engage your handbrake.

To exit your parking spot, perform a full visual check and reverse to the end of your space. Pause until it is safe for you to rejoin the road, then turn your steering wheel in the appropriate direction to move into the traffic.

Pull up on the right

This is a tricky and stressful manoeuvre, and you probably won’t need to do it all that often when you are driving. However, it is an important skill to master. The first part of this manoeuvre is identifying a safe place to pull up. You must avoid junctions, corners, driveways, or anywhere that you may cause a potential obstruction. And ensure that you have a clear view of the surrounding area. That done, position your vehicle roughly two car lengths from your intended parking spot. Check your mirrors and blind spots, signal your intent and pull up parallel to the kerb, as you would with a parallel park. Turn off the car and put on your handbrake.

When your examiner tells you to move on, check your mirrors and blind spots, and slowly reverse approximately two car lengths. Put on your handbrake, indicate, and wait until it is safe to rejoin the road.

Emergency stop

Lastly, there’s the emergency stop. To perform an emergency stop correctly, you will need to demonstrate your ability to react quickly while remaining aware of your surroundings. You will need to press the brake quickly and safely, checking your mirrors and blind spots before you react.

Again, when your examiner indicates that it’s OK to move on, check all of your mirrors and blind spots and proceed as usual.

Driving test manoeuvres are difficult and stressful for a lot of people. But with enough practice, they will soon become second nature. So, rather than stressing and looking for a get-out, concentrate your efforts on getting your manoeuvres right. That way, when it comes to test day, whatever manoeuvre you are asked to perform will be a breeze.

Get in touch with DGN Driving to arrange your driving lessons or mock driving test in the West Midlands.  

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