Learner Driver News

15 October 2019 by Geoffrey Insurance

Minors and Majors


You have probably heard of the terms ‘minor’ and ‘major’ referred to when talking about the driving test, but it’s handy to know exactly what they mean. 

It is very common for people taking their test to wrongly assume a minor mistake as a major. The key here is to know what exactly makes an examiner view a mistake as a fail.  

You can receive a maximum of 15 minors and still pass. However, if you make three minors that are the same, that will then be classed as a major. You only need to make one major and unfortunately, you fail the test.

Still with me?


So let’s look at some examples

Ultimately, it is up to your examiner to decide what constitutes a minor or major fault but some examples of driving faults that can fall under either category are:


  • Not making necessary observations at junctions or before completing a manoeuvre.

This is normally classed as a minor but if the right checks aren’t made and it results in a potentially dangerous situation this will be a major. Failing to make the necessary observations is the most common reason why people fail their driving test.


  • Hitting the kerb

Many learners think that hitting the kerb whilst completing a manoeuvre will mean they have failed. Hitting the kerb lightly does not class as a fail, but will result in a minor. However if you were to drive up on to the kerb or hit the kerb very hard then yes, that would be classed a major.


  • Stalling the car

When most people stall during their test, they instantly feel like they have failed, but this isn’t always the case. If stalling the car happens in a potentially dangerous situation then this can be classed as a major. Stalling from being parked on the side of the road is classed as a minor. But if you were to stall at a really busy junction or on a roundabout that is likely to be classed as a major.


  • Hesitating too much

You will not fail the test for not pulling out at your first opportunity. Keep doing it though, and you will receive a major if you fail to confidently pull out after the third attempt. You will also - unsurprisingly - get a major if you pull out when it is not safe to and could potentially cause an accident.


  • Driving too slow / fast

Of course, you need to abide by the speed limit but driving too slow can in-fact result in a major if it is causing a potentially dangerous situation or causing significant delays. It can also mean a fail as it makes the examiner believe you are not aware of the speed limit.


  • Crossing your hands on the steering wheel

Because we’re taught not to cross our arms when turning the steering wheel, it is popular opinion for people to believe that if you cross your hands on the steering wheel that it will result in a fail. Contrary to this, it in-fact will not; the ‘shuffle steering’ technique is simply a recommended way of driving taught by driving instructors; it is not mandatory.


  •  Not applying the handbrake

Not applying the handbrake does not affect whether you will pass or not and you will not fail for this – providing it did not cause the car to roll back or forwards.


  • Not indicating

Not indicating at all before making a turn at a junction would definitely be a major. You can also receive minors if you indicate too late or early before reaching a junction. Make sure you give other drivers around you enough time and awareness before you reach the junction and make the turning. It is also just as important to not indicate too early as it may look like you want to turn into a different road.


  • Failing to complete the manoeuvres required

Unfortunately, a bad manoeuvre can fail you even if the rest of the drive was faultless. Many people fail from lack of observation when completing the manoeuvres. Other reasons might be hitting the kerb hard or going too wide when reversing round a corner. It all depends if the manoeuvre has positioned you or others in a dangerous situation.


  • I failed the sight test at the beginning

You will only fail your test if you fail to read number plates after three attempts. If you do get the first one wrong, the examiner will ask you to read another.


Overall, the examiner is looking for you to be able to have full control of the car and is expecting to see evidence that you are aware of what is happening around you at all times. You need to have full awareness of the other motorists on the road, as well as pedestrians and cyclists.  And remember, if you receive the same minor three times, you will get a major, so try to be aware of the mistakes!

Good luck!