Assessment criteria: Controls and instruments



Expected outcome / competence

This section covers, where appropriate, the safe and controlled use of accelerator, clutch, gears, footbrake, parking brake, and steering. The vehicles controls should be used as smoothly as possible, For example:

Making proper use of: Accelerator and clutch to make a smooth start -the clutch should be depressed before the vehicle stops.

The correct gear should be selected to match the road and traffic conditions.

The vehicle should not be allowed to coast by running on in neutral or with the clutch depressed.

The footbrake should be used smoothly and progressively.

Full use of the parking brake should be used, to prevent the vehicle rolling backwards or forwards.

The vehicle should be steered as smoothly as possible. Steering too early / late, may cause the vehicle to hit the kerb or swing out towards another road user.


Assessment criteria example

Driving fault:

  • Incorrect gear selection, resulting in a reduction in vehicle speed with no risk to following vehicles.

Serious fault:

  • Incorrect gear selection, resulting in a sudden reduction in vehicle speed, causing following traffic to alter speed/or direction.

Dangerous fault:

  • Any situation brought about by the above control faults, that resulted in actual danger to the examiner, candidate, the general public or property.

Other driving faults


  • Uncontrolled use
  • Excessive revs


  • Not depressing the clutch pedal before stopping
  • Uncontrolled engagement after changing gear


  • Clutch Coasting
  • Looking down when changing gear resulting loss of steering control
  • Selecting the wrong gear for the road and traffic conditions


  • Uncontrolled use resulting in pulling up too early or too late
  • Late or harsh braking
  • Missing the brake pedal completely


  • Applying whilst in motion
  • Not applying where necessary resulting in rolling forwards or backwards
  • Allowing the vehicle to ‘creep’ with an automatic
  • Unable to release fully


  • Unable to maintain a steady course in normal driving
  • ‘Swan Neck’ turns when turning right
  • At a normal stop, mounting and dismounting the kerb
  • Not following the contour of the kerb at a bell mouth junction


Ancillary controls:

Expected outcome / competence

Ability to understand the function of all the controls and switches, especially those that have a bearing on road safety.

These include indicators, lights, windscreen wipers, demisters and heaters.

Ability to find these controls and operate them correctly, when necessary, without looking down or causing a loss of control.

Assessment criteria (example)

Driving fault:

  • Not completely familiar with the location and operation of controls, control of the vehicle was compromised but with no effect on road safety.

Serious fault:

  • Unaware of location and operation of the controls resulting in a serious loss of vehicle control, road safety compromised.

Dangerous fault:

  • Any situation brought about by the above fault that resulted in actual danger to the examiner, candidate, the general public or property.


Other driving faults:

  • Failure to use ancillary controls when necessary
  • Unable to operate controls
  • Not able to locate or operate essential ancillary controls
  • Loss of control whilst operating ancillary controls

The above is taken from The Driving Examiners Manual.

Where appropriate it has been reformatted and edited so it only refers to the driving of ordinary cars (class b).