Common restricted test mistakes

While you can fail the restricted test for making any of the Critical or Immediate Fail Errors, there are some mistakes that are more common than others.

Here are some of the most common reasons why people fail the restricted test:

Going over the speed limit

You’re allowed a margin for error of 4 km/h but once you go over that it’s either a Critical Error or an Immediate Fail Error depending on how fast you go and how long you go over the limit for.

Some people habitually drive just a bit over the speed limit, especially in 50 km/h zones. Learner drivers often pick up this habit from the people who are helping them learn to drive. If you’ve picked up this habit make a conscious effort to get used to sticking to the speed limit, even if those around you aren’t.

The places where people are most likely to go over the speed limit are at roadworks (usually a 30 km/h zone), when entering a zone with a lower speed limit, and on longer, straight stretches of road. Take particular care to watch your speed at these places.

Remember that when a speed limit changes it begins when your vehicle is alongside the speed sign.

How to avoid speeding:
  • When you’re entering a lower speed zone you must slow down, and be at the speed displayed on the speed sign as you reach the sign.
  • When you are entering a higher speed zone you mustn’t increase your speed until after you have passed the sign.

Forgetting to signal (especially at roundabouts)

A lot of people have trouble remembering to indicate at roundabouts. But the rules are actually pretty simple.

As you approach the roundabout:
  • If you are going to turn left, signal left.
  • If you are going to turn right, signal right.
  • If you're going straight through, you don’t need to signal as you approach.

Top tip: As a guide, if you are going more than halfway round the roundabout, you should signal right as you approach.

Before you leave the roundabout:
  • You need to signal left as you pass the road immediately before the one you’re going to take to get off the roundabout. This only applies when you’re turning right or going straight ahead because the indicator should stay on the whole time if you’re turning left.

If you’re not sure about the rules, check out our guide on when to signal.

Failing to look for other traffic

This often happens when people don’t check their mirrors and over their shoulder when they need to, like before changing lanes, merging or pulling out into traffic. 

It’s also important to get into the habit of checking carefully for all traffic to give way to. A good way to do this is to take a second look each way at intersections to double check for anything you may have missed - especially smaller vehicles like bikes, mopeds and motorcyclists.

Some test routes have railway level crossings. Even where these crossings have bells and lights or even barrier arms, you should still slow down and quickly check both directions along the track before you cross.

Not giving way

This isn't just about applying the give way rules, it’s about picking safe gaps in traffic so that other users don’t have to adjust their speed or change their course to avoid you.

Make sure you can confidently apply the five give way rules in all situations and get plenty of practice applying them at a variety of intersections.


What's next?

After you pass the restricted test

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