Critical and immediate fail errors

Critical and Immediate Fail Errors are a key part of the restricted test, so it pays to know them well.

Many people who fail the restricted test do so because they make Critical or Immediate Fail Errors.

It’s a good sign that you’re ready for the test if you’re not making any Critical or Immediate Fail Errors during your practice driving sessions.

If you are making any of these errors – even just some of the time – make sure you work on fixing them before you book to sit the test.

Critical Errors

A Critical Error is a serious driving error that doesn’t result in immediate danger to any road user or property.

You're allowed to make one Critical Error during Stage 1 of the test and up to two Critical Errors over the whole test. If you make any more errors than that you automatically fail the test, regardless of how well you performed the specific driving skills.

Critical Errors include:
  • Driving too slow: This includes taking more than 5 seconds to move on where there is ample opportunity to do so. An example of this could be not pulling into a safe gap in traffic at an intersection. You should slow down when you need to, but if conditions are good and you drive at 10 km/h or more below the speed limit and hold up following traffic it will be marked as a Critical Error.  You'll also get a Critical Error if you stop when you don't need to before driving through a pedestrian or school crossing.

  • Driving too fast: You must stay within the speed limit and drive at a speed appropriate to the conditions during the test. Going 5 km/h or more over the limit (but less than 10 km/h over) for less than five seconds is a Critical Error.
  • Failing to look: Check your mirrors and over your shoulder when you should, and don’t forget to check for any traffic you need to give way to. This includes checking both left and right before you drive over a railway crossing.
  • Failing to signal: Make sure you signal for at least 3 seconds before you turn, change lanes, pull away from or into the kerb, or cross the centreline. Be careful to signal correctly at roundabouts too - failing to do this is a very common mistake.
  • Blocking a pedestrian crossing: This means stopping your car on a pedestrian crossing. The only time this is allowed is if you need to stop on the crossing in order to see approaching traffic at an intersection. But make sure you give way to any pedestrians waiting to cross first.
  • Mounting the kerb: If you mount the kerb during a parallel park or three-point turn, you'll be marked with a Critical Error. You’ll be ok if your tyre just touches the kerb without causing discomfort to anyone in the car.
  • Stall: If you drive a manual during the test, any stalls will also count as a Critical Error. This is because stalling your car shows you don’t have good control of the car and could put yourself in a dangerous position.
  • Incomplete stop at a stop sign: Another common Critical Error in the restricted test is slowing down at a stop sign, but not coming to a complete stop. In the full licence test, this is counted as an Immediate Fail Error.
  • Other illegal action: This includes serious errors that don’t cause immediate danger to other road users or property. Common examples include cutting corners and turning into the wrong lane on roads with two or more lanes each way.

Some of these Critical Errors can become Immediate Fail Errors if they create a dangerous situation.

Immediate Fail Errors

An Immediate Fail error is any driving which results in immediate danger to any road user or property.

As the name suggests, making a single Immediate Fail Error will mean that you immediately fail the test.

Immediate Fail Errors include:
  • Intervention. This means the Testing Officer has to do something or say something to stop something dangerous from happening (e.g. to prevent a crash).

  • Fail to carry out instruction. You'll also immediately fail the test if you can't carry out the Testing Officer’s instructions because of a lack of confidence or driving ability. You shouldn’t be failed because you didn’t hear the instruction properly. If you’re not sure, it’s fine to ask them to repeat the instruction.
  • Collision. With an object, the kerb, a vehicle or another road user. An exception is if another road user is completely at fault. If only one wheel mounts or bumps hard into the kerb during the reverse parallel park, that’s a Critical Error; if two or more wheels mount the kerb, that’s an Immediate Fail Error. Hitting the kerb at any other time is an Immediate Fail Error.
  • Fail to give way. Failing to give way anywhere - not just at give way signs - is an Immediate Fail Error. So make sure you know the give way rules!
  • Excessive speed. You're not allowed to exceed the speed limit by 10 km/h or more at any time during the test. You can also fail for going between 5 and 10 km/h over the speed limit if you do it for 5 seconds or more.
  • Stopping in a dangerous position. Examples of dangerous positions include: on pedestrian crossings, in intersections on railway crossings and parts of the road marked with cross-hatched yellow ‘no-stopping’ lines.
  • Fail to stop. This means not coming to a stop where you are required to do so, such as stop signs, yellow and red traffic signals and railway crossings with flashing lights activated and/or barrier arms lowered.
  • Any other dangerous action. This means anything else that causes immediate danger to road users or property.

Get more info

We’ve given you the most common examples of these errors. If you want the full and exhaustive list, download the Restricted Licence Test guide (PDF, 4.13 MB).

If you’re confident you’re driving without making any of these errors then check out the test tips and common mistakes to make sure you’re all set for the test.


What's next?

Preparing for your restricted test

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