You are probably aware from your driving lessons that the sun is very low in the sky in winter especially early morning/evening and that visibility can be reduced at crucial places like when emerging at junctions, where road signs are placed, or when meeting traffic on narrow streets. So for this very reason you need to be extra careful when taking your driving test in winter, and that you adjust your reaction to the various changes in conditions as they occur.
Here a couple of useful tips that might prove valuable for those of you taking the DSA practical car test during the winter months here in the UK.
1. Use sun glasses. There is nothing wrong with wearing a pair of sun shades when driving, as it reduces the number of times you have to take your hands of the steering wheel to adjust the car sun blinds as the car moves in different directions in relation to the position of the sun (leave them in the car on the dashboard when you get to the test centre to meet the examiner, and put them on at the beginning of the test after you have answered your show me tell me questions). You probably will notice that the examiner will also have a pair of sun glasses too!
2. Use the appropriate speed for the conditions. It might not be safe to drive at the speed limit if you are facing the sun especially if the road has a lot of junctions or cars parked on it. Don't get pressurised by cars driving too close behind you, do what the examiner will expect you to do (maintain SAFE progress).
3. Don't miss those road signs. During my time of giving driving lessons to various people, I find a lot of test candidates don't pay attention to road markings and signs, SLOW is painted on the tarmac for specific reasons, and in winter with roads being slippery due to black ice and poor visibility from the low sun in the horizon, ignoring this helpful information will only increase the likelihood of you commiting a driver error which could classified as serious or dangerous.
You could also find yourself being failed for being too slow for example, if you miss the national speed limit sign on the A1 in Mill Hill for example on the approach to sterling corner roundabout, so do your very best to remain focused and pay attention to everything around you. This is one of the reasons why the DSA advices to have lots of practice once you have learnt the skills required on the practical car assessment, as if you learnt to drive a car in summer, but your test is booked in January, you might not have enough experience in winter driving to successfully deal with everything that might happen during the 40 minutes drive with the examiner.
4. Observations during maneuvers. It is very important when performing your driving test maneuvers in winter, that you take effective observations because it is even easier at this time of the year to not see a silver or gray car coming towards you either due to it blending into the background, or light reflections. This is not the time to rush because you want to end the test ASAP, and if you take the time to concentrate on controlling the car, it will be easier to look around without having your vehicle running out of space to complete the test maneuver.
The current UK driving test is tough, and you need to give it the proper respect it deserves, you will not get that desired pass certificate, if you show up half prepared, and you can't blame weather conditions or other road users for your failure (well you can if you want, but it doesn't take away from the fact, that it is your responsibility to demonstrate to the examiner that you've got what it takes to keep your car safe no matter what is happening around you).
Here is to wishing you success on your next attempt, having used those driving lessons (private or with an instructor) to gain enough experience to give you the skills, confidence and ability to make it.
Subscribe to Driving Test Tips so you don't miss any future articles or get updates direct to your inbox by Email.
Test failed for not seeing junction in winter glare
Driving in Artic conditions UK