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Your Riding Test Report Explained

On the Riding Test Report sheet the examiner can check a number of different boxes as a ‘fault’.

You can fail on 1 serious fault, 1 dangerous fault or a combination of driving faults of which you are allowed up to 15 (16 is a fail). However, four driving faults in the same box will result in a serious fault, and therefore a fail.

A serious fault is the most common fail and below is a list of the various ways this can be done:


1.0 Eyesight

You must be able to read a car number plate over a distance of 20.5 metres with glasses if you need to wear them (or 20 metres for new style numberplates). This is easy to avoid by regularly checking your eyesight.


1.1 Highway Code / Safety

This is where you demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Highway Code (and related safety issues). For example, if on a dual carriageway there is a sign showing that the lane you are in is closing and you fail to react until prompted by the examiner then this box may be used. However, it is unusual for this box to be used as it is covered by other boxes further down.


1.2 Safety Questions

You should be able to show or tell the examiner how to carry out basic safety checks on your motorcycle before starting to ride. This may include checks on fluids, lights, tyres, brakes, steering, chain and emergency stop switch.


2.0 Ancillary Controls

You should understand the functions of all switches, such as your horn, engine kill switch and lights. You should know where to find these switches on the motorcycle. You should understand the meaning of gauges and warning lights and know the function of all controls including throttle, clutch, front and rear brakes, steering and gears. You should be able to keep control of the motorcycle if you need to operate any ancillary control when riding it without looking down. An unusual area to be marked on a motorcycle test. If you did not know or did not demonstrate that you were fully aware of all your controls (horn, indicators, lights etc) and non - essential controls of your motorcycle, then you may receive a minor fault. An example would be leaving the lights on high beam or leaving a fog light (if fitted) on.


3.0 Precautions

This is used to mark faults resulting from things like forgetting to lift up the side stand, starting the motorcycle in gear or leaving the lights set to high beam. Typically, the side stand and gear faults occur after the U-turn and emergency stop exercises. Also, forgetting to do up your helmet at the start of the test.


4.0 Control

This section covers the use of controls including steering, brakes, throttle, clutch, gears and balance. Always try to use the controls in a smooth and coordinated way. This leads to a smother ride and less wear and tear on your machine; balance the throttle and clutch to pull away smoothly. Keep both hands on the handlebars and make sure your steering movements are steady and smooth. Steer at the correct time. Do not touch any of the marker cones or kerbs. Ride with both feet on the footrests. Disengage the clutch before stopping. Do not coast in neutral or with the clutch disengaged. Select the correct gear for the speed and conditions. Combine the use of both brakes. Use your brakes effectively, correctly and progressively, avoid harsh braking. When riding slowly maintain a straight line and do not allow the machine to wobble.

Accelerator / throttle - this is an unusual fault, but a driving fault can be picked up for blipping the accelerator / throttle unnecessarily (a bad habit that older riders tend to bring to their training) and which can also be viewed as being aggressive.

Clutch - again, unusual that this will be picked up, as it is not easy to for the examiner to see if the clutch is being operated badly during gear changes. However, good clutch control is fundamental to being able to ride a motorcycle safely. Poor clutch control often causes poor road positioning (where people attempt to swing widely in and out of junctions to avoid using slow control) and the fault tends to be marked under steering. (See 12 f) Likewise, stalling is often marked under 'moving off under control'. 

Gears - this fault is marked typically when people attempt to pull away in a gear other than first. Normally this will accrue a driving fault. The examiner will tend to look more deeply into this if he / she feels that this is a problem for you. Therefore, if you find yourself being asked to pull over and stop several times, chances are that the examiner is concerned that you are failing to change down gear properly. Stalls at junctions are frequently caused by trying to pull away in the wrong gear. This will be frequently considered a serious fault as invariably you will have moved out into the road a short distance.

Footbrake - the most likely fault here will be leaving your foot on the brake lever resulting in the brake light staying on. This would normally be a driving fault, but if you are inclined to do this then it is easy to rack up four of these faults during the course of the test. Poor posture on the motorcycle or inadequate footwear are frequently the root causes of this problem. This fault can also be attributed to the front brake (see below).

Parking Brake / MC Front Brake - not too much worry in the parking brake department, the front brake, on the other hand, is the subject of lots of scrutiny during the test. Basically, it must be applied before the rear brake during normal braking and should be used with more bias than the rear brake. People who do not use the front brake at all or rarely can expect to receive a serious fault. It is also easy to gather faults through keeping one or two fingers on the front brake during normal riding resulting in the brake light staying on (see above).

Steering - this is a very common fault and is generally caused by having poor machine control. Most steering faults are the result of turning into (or out of) junctions too wide (swan necking). Depending on severity, this can be a serious fault or driving fault, but is also the sort of fault that will make an examiner look very closely at your ability to control a motorcycle. Excessive/ exaggerated lifesavers can also attribute to faults in this area. The more closely you are examined, the more likely faults will be spotted.

Balance M / C - different examiners have different opinions as to how relevant this fault is. It is fairly safe to say that unless you drop the motorcycle then this fault in it self will not be a serious fault. However, driver faults here quickly go towards totting up for the final score.


5.0 Move Away

This needs to be done safely and under control. Remember always to use your mirrors and signal if necessary. Just before moving away check that it is safe by looking round for traffic and pedestrians in your blind spots.  'Safely' means doing adequate shoulder checks and not pulling out into oncoming traffic. 'Under control' means using the correct gear and not stalling or swerving excessively. The 'control' element normally leads to driving faults, whereas forgetting to look before you pull out or cause another vehicle to swerve or slow down is definitely a serious fault. Move off in a controlled way making balanced use of the throttle, clutch, and brakes and steer safely. Make sure you are in the correct gear and do not allow the machine to roll back.


6.0 Emergency Stop (See Motorcycle Manoeuvres Test Explained).

You must be able to stop promptly and under control; in other words without skidding to a halt. Remember to brake evenly and progressively and avoid locking the wheels. Remember that in wet weather it can take twice as long to stop safely. If you skid a tyre, release the brake and then re - apply the brake, but this is hard to do under the circumstances. Generally, people will press the rear brake excessively (often due to their car driving experience) causing it to skid. The promptness applies to both how quickly you stop (i.e. how hard you pressed the brakes), but also to how quickly you respond to the examiner's signal/ hazard.


7.0 Reverse To The Left Or Right - this relates to reversing and therefore does not affect motorcycles.


8.0 Turn In The Road/ U-Turn (See Motorcycle Manoeuvres Test Explained).

You must take good, effective, all-round observation and show consideration to other road users. You will need to control your speed. Steer a course reasonably close to the kerb by coordinating the use of the throttle, clutch, gears, rear brake and steering whilst maintaining your balance. Keep your feet on the footrests. This is divided into control and observation. The observation relates to how adequately you looked before starting the turn. Generally, this is overlooked if people rush the manoeuvre. The control relates to putting your foot down to regain your balance, or running too wide so that you hit the kerb. It is has also been known for people to drop the bike before starting the turn. In any event, two things are important here, firstly, that the turn is not rushed and secondly, that it is practised adequately during your training. Largely this comes down to confidence.


9.0 Reverse Parking (these are not applicable)


10.0 Use Of Mirrors/ Rear Observation

You should use your mirrors often and always be aware of what is in your blind spots. Just looking is not enough. You must know what is happening all around you and act safely and sensibly on what you see. Do not signal or act without using the mirrors. There are really only five times that you will need to do an observation. These are, speeding up (including pulling away), slowing down, moving or turning to the left, moving or turning to the right and when there is the potential to slow down (such as approaching traffic lights). Forget any one of these and you will get at least a riding fault; but change lanes, for example, without doing an observation and this will often be considered a serious fault.


11.0 Give the Appropriate Signals

You must clearly signal to let others know what you intend to do. Signal only using signals shown in the Highway Code, when necessary and when it would help other road users including pedestrians and in plenty of time. Other road users need to see and understand what you intend to do so that they can react safely. Your signals, or lack of signals must not mislead others. Always ensure that the signal has been cancelled after the manoeuvre has been completed. Do not beckon pedestrians to cross the road- you could put them in danger from other vehicles. This all needs to be done where necessary, correctly and at the right time. This is a very common area to fail your test because this is where forgetting to cancel the indicator will be recorded. How likely you will get a serious or driver fault will depend largely on whether or not you actually affected another road user at the time. Roundabouts are frequently the cause of confusion with signals, as you will often need to use both left and right indicators while you negotiate the roundabout. It is important to understand the impact that your indicators make on other road users. If you drive a car, practise cancelling the indicator when you are driving, rather than letting the car do it automatically.


12.0 Response To Signs / Signals

You should understand and be able to react to all traffic signs and road markings. You must act correctly at traffic lights and check that the road is clear before proceeding when the green light shows. Obey signs given by police officers, traffic wardens and school crossing patrols. Look out for signals given by other road users, including people in charge of animals and be ready to act accordingly.

Traffic Signs - this is missing speed limit signs (and other Highway Code issues). Normally if you miss a speed limit you are in trouble, but if you are fortunate enough to spot a repeater sign and act promptly then the fault is more likely to be a riding fault. Other traffic signs that are often misunderstood are traffic priority signs and stop signs. Failing to spot signs is symptomatic of someone focusing too close to the front wheel of the bike and not looking ahead (i.e: forward planning).

Road Markings - this also tends to be a Highway Code issue, but can also be as a result of poor forward planning (looking ahead). The main road markings that will affect you are stop lines and designated lanes (i.e. with arrows). Typically, this is a serious fault.

Traffic Lights - a common place to fail your test. The number of different ways of making a mistake here is almost too long to list. Principally jumping lights, trying to stop for an amber light when you really should have carried on and not proceeding after you have crossed the line but the lights have changed from green are the main ones. Nearly always a fault here is serious. A basic lack of knowledge of the Highway Code is often the root of the problem.

Traffic Controllers - unusual for faults here as most people respond to the “human touch”.

Other Road Users - another common area for people to fail their test. This is meeting oncoming traffic where there are parked cars, or not accepting a free gap when someone waves you forward. This is a very large area and the type of fault can cover a whole range. It is probably one of the most important areas during your training. How you deal and respond to other road users will have a very big impact on how safe you are on the road. Even if other people drive badly or make mistakes you can still fail if you react in an inflexible manner.


13.0 Use Of Speed

You should make safe, reasonable progress along the road bearing in mind the road, traffic and weather conditions and the road signs and speed limits. Make sure you can stop safely and well within the distance you can see to be clear. Do not speed. Remember that as a new rider you will lose your licence if during the first two years after passing your test you get six penalty points or more and you will have to retake your theory, manoeuvres and practical tests. People who ride too quickly during their training often fail for going too slowly in their test. The reverse is true for those that ride too slowly during training. Typically, there are two main areas, firstly, not getting up to speed in national speed limits and dual carriageways, and secondly, riding too quickly in busy, built - up areas. If the rest of your riding is very good this may well be a riding fault, but if your riding has lacked confidence etc., then it is possible that the more closely you are examined, the more likely faults will be spotted.


14.0 Following Distance

Always keep a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles. Remember on wet or slippery roads it takes much longer to stop. When you stop in traffic queues leave sufficient space to pull out of the vehicle in front has problems. “Only a fool breaks the 2 second rule, and when it pours make it 4”. If you are dithering about overtaking the vehicle in front, then this is often the time that you will get too close to them. In addition, people who find themselves travelling at higher speeds having been in town for some time often misjudge how close they are to the vehicle in front. Normally this is a riding fault.


15.0 Maintain Progress

In order to pass your test you must show that you can ride at a realistic speed appropriate to the road and traffic conditions. You should be able to choose the correct speed for the type of road, density of traffic, weather and visibility. You should approach all hazards at a safe speed, without being overcautious or interfering with the progress of other traffic. Always be ready to move away from junctions as soon as it is safe and correct to do so. Riding too slowly can create danger for yourself and others. Divided into appropriate speed and undue hesitation. Undue hesitation is the most common one, bear in mind though that this is normally a driver fault, whereas if you pull out when cars are coming that would be a serious fault. Therefore, if you need to err in one direction or the other, then being slightly cautious is the better route. Progress faults tend to tot up quickly- as people who ride slowly do so everywhere.


16.0 Junctions (including Roundabouts)

You should be able to judge the correct speed of approach so that you can enter a junction safely and stop if necessary. Position your machine correctly. Use the correct lane. If you are turning right, keep as near to the centre of the road as is safe. Avoid cutting the corner when turning right. If turning left, keep over to the left and do not swing out. Watch out for cyclists and motorcyclists coming up on your left and pedestrians who are crossing. You must take effective rear observation before moving into the junction and make sure it is safe before proceeding. This is an area where more fails occur than almost anywhere else. Junctions include major roads to minor roads, minor roads to major roads, mini roundabouts, roundabouts and box junctions. Being able to understand how to deal with a junction is fundamental to being safe on the road. The examiner will divide faults into the following categories:

Approach Speed - this can be divided into two faults; too fast and too slow. People who approach junctions too slowly are generally having issues with using the brakes correctly, i.e: too much emphasis on the rear brake. People who approach junctions too fast are having problems with forward planning. A good approach speed should not impede the flow of traffic, while at the same time afford the opportunity to make adequate observation. Generally, this is an area for riding faults, but as with other problems if your riding generally lacks forward planning you will very quickly pick up enough riding faults for it to become serious.

Observation - again this can be divided into two main areas: missing lifesavers and failing to spot things. During the process of negotiating a junction you are required to do various observations (which can include lifesavers and looking right - left - right). If you miss one of these out then you will normally get a riding fault. If there was something to see (a vehicle) and you didn't look, then this will be a serious fault. The other area where this can be marked is emerging from a junction and either failing to spot another road user, or misjudging it's speed; either way if you cause another vehicle to swerve or slow down then you will have failed your test. Typically, an approach speed that is too fast will contribute to this.

Turning Right - this box is not used much as approach, observation and cutting corners pretty much cover all the usual faults. However, if you turn from a major road into a minor road from the middle of your lane then it is possible the fault will be marked here.

Turning Left - the same as turning right.

Cutting Corners - as described earlier cutting corners is a bad habit brought on normally by either poor slow control (slipping the clutch) or trying to take the turn too fast. It is a dangerous habit and consequently will result in a fail.


 17.0 Judgement When Overtaking, Meeting Oncoming Traffic, Turning Across Traffic

Only overtake when it is safe to do so. Allow enough room when you are overtaking another vehicle. Cyclists and motorcyclists need at least as much space as other vehicles. They can wobble or swerve suddenly. Do not cut in too quickly after overtaking. Take care when the width of the road is restricted or when the road narrows. If there is an obstruction on your side or not enough room for two vehicles to pass safely, be prepared to wait and let the approaching vehicles through. When you turn right across the path of an approaching vehicle, make sure you can do so safely. Other vehicles should not have to stop, slow down or swerve to allow you to complete your turn. Judgment decisions are very rarely classed as driver faults. This is a very contentious area as it covers an area where you thought something was okay and the examiner did not. What makes it particularly difficult is that no two examiners have exactly the same idea of what is okay and what isn't; so, for example, some examiners are quite aggressive in their driving and expect you to overtake, whereas others are more cautious and would not even give the time of day to filtering. If you demonstrate positive body language and positive and deliberate manoeuvring, then the examiner is more likely to respect your judgement, than he / she would if you dither or show poor machine control. In any event, it is important that you find out from your instructor what the examiner likes.

Overtaking - it is not a requirement of the test that you do actually overtake someone, but if the situation presents itself the examiner will expect you to overtake, particularly on dual carriageways. Should you feel that it is necessary, you must ask yourself if it is safe and is it legal. Examiners will look very closely at overtaking moves and if there is any hint that it was unsafe they won't tolerate it and you will fail. Good judgement here is often impaired by people spending more time thinking about what the examiner is thinking rather than worrying about whether they are riding safely or not. Filtering, as described by the Highway Code, is passing lanes of stationary or slow moving traffic. It is highly unlikely that you will be expected to do this during the test.

Meeting - this is extremely difficult. Essentially this is generally a situation where parked vehicles have narrowed road to one lane and there is oncoming traffic, or where there is a priority sign, width restriction or any situation where there is a fifty - fifty decision when you deal with other traffic. What makes things so difficult is that you have to second - guess what other road users are going to do. Good forward planning will help make better judgements as you have longer to think and reach a good decision. You must not wave to, flash at or gesticulate to other road users, as this contravenes the Highway Code, and be especially careful when another road user does the same.

Crossing - crossing traffic with or without the aid of traffic lights or road markings has massive safety issues. Due to motorcyclists' vulnerability, the junction / manoeuvre must be clear and all directions must be looked at before you proceed. Any area not catered for, or a wrong choice of speed or gear, will be marked as serious.


18.0 Positioning

You should position your machine correctly, normally in the centre of your lane. Keep clear of parked vehicles and position your machine correctly for the direction that you intend to take. Where lanes are marked, keep to the middle of the lane and avoid straddling the lane markings. |do not change lanes unnecessarily. This is split into two areas, but essentially there is no absolute rule on this as the examiner will look for what is safe, legal and if your choice made sense within the context of the surroundings.

Normal Riding- during normal riding you should ride in a dominant position (i.e. more or less in the middle of your lane) allowing for the road surface, parked vehicles and oncoming traffic. Riding too far to the left or right when conditions are clear will get you a driver fault. However, being inflexible when dealing with, particularly, oncoming traffic (in other words, not moving to the left allowing more room for the oncoming vehicle) will be viewed more seriously.

Lane Discipline - examiners love this area as nine times out of ten it is so black and white. You must choose the correct lane for the manoeuvre you are trying to attempt. So, for example, if you go straight ahead from a lane marked for turning left you have blown it, likewise indicating right while in a straight ahead lane will also ruin the test. Clearly the most obvious area where this will occur is at roundabouts. Generally if you pick the wrong lane it is a serious fault. However, this box can be used to mark your behaviour on dual carriageways. You must keep to the left unless you are overtaking; once you have overtaken a vehicle you must move back into the left lane. The examiner will expect you to overtake slower vehicles where conditions allow. If you have done nothing else wrong the examiner might let it go with a minor fault but normally, as with other areas of lane discipline, they tend to mark this as a serious fault.


19.0 Clearance / Obstructions

Allow plenty of room to pass stationary vehicles and be prepared to slow down or stop. A child may run out or a vehicle may pull out without warning. Keep a safe distance from builders' skips or other large obstructions as you may not be able to see pedestrians or workers close to the obstruction. This is very rarely used to record faults as the position during normal driving largely covers this. It is not impossible that if you drive too close to parked vehicles that you will get a fault here.


20.0 Pedestrian Crossing

You should be able to recognize the different types of pedestrian crossing and show courtesy and consideration towards pedestrians. At all crossings you should slow down and stop if there is anyone on the crossing. At zebra crossings you should slow down and be prepared to stop if there is anyone waiting to cross. Give way to any pedestrian on any pelican crossing when the amber lights are flashing. You should give way to cyclists and pedestrians on a toucan crossing. Although there are several types of pedestrian crossing (Pelican, Puffin, Toucan, etc.,) there are two basic types; those with lights and those without. Those with lights need to be obeyed in the normal way, the only variation being the flashing amber lights. Examiners take pedestrian crossings very seriously and any indications that you might be keen to mow down a pedestrian will be greeted with a hearty fail. Zebra crossings, being a give way, are slightly different- as you are required to give way, not only to those on the crossing, but also those that show intention of crossing. A common fault here is failing to plan ahead and therefore not seeing the crossing until too late. Overall faults in this box tend to be serious.


21.0 Position For Normal Stops

Choose a safe, legal and convenient place to stop, close to the edge of the road, where you will not cause an obstruction and create a hazard. You should know how and where to stop without causing danger to other road users. On several occasions during the test the examiner will ask you to pull up on the side of the road. You will need to take into account road markings and surrounding hazards. Generally this is one of those things that you either get right or you don't. So pulling up within 10 metres of a junction or on zigzag lines, the brow of a hill or on a sharp bend will result in a serious fault and therefore a fail. The examiner does not mind you stopping on single or double yellow lines (as you are stopping not parking) unless there is a better alternative.


22.0 Awareness / Planning

You must be aware of other road users at all times. You should always think and plan ahead so that you can judge what other road users are going to do, predict how their actions will affect you and react in good time. Take particular care to consider the actions of more vulnerable groups of road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. Anticipate road and traffic conditions and act in good time, rather than reacting to them at the last moments. As you are riding your will be assessed on your awareness of various hazards, such as the road surface, moving vehicles, stationary vehicles and pedestrians. This is a very common area for serious faults and is generally a consequence of poor forward planning. Poor forward planning is often the result of lack of confidence with machine controls so that attention is focused more on the motorcycle than the road ahead. Alternatively, just a general tendency to focus only a few metres ahead will tend to make a rider 'reactive' rather than 'proactive'. To avoid faults in this area, it is essential to look almost as far ahead as you can see, and to be actively making a plan -as well as trying to anticipate the actions of other road users.


Assuming that you have managed to avoid all these pitfalls you will have passed your test! Remember, all you need to do is ride safely, smoothly and systematically.


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