A critical error is a serious driving error that does not meet the threshold for an immediate failure error. Critical errors are recorded at any time they occur during either stage of the test, whether or not the applicant was undertaking an assessable task at the time of the error. Most illegal driving actions are classified as critical errors (except errors that endanger any road user, which are classified as immediate failure errors). Critical errors are more important than the errors assessed by task assessment items, so critical errors have a greater influence on the outcome of the test.
Critical errors include:
- too slow
- too fast
- failing to look
- failing to signal
- blocking a pedestrian crossing
- mounting a kerb
- stalling the vehicle
- incomplete stop at a Stop sign
- other illegal action.
Drivers who travel much more slowly than necessary, or stop unnecessarily, increase traffic congestion and cause additional frustration to other drivers, potentially leading to unsafe behaviour by other drivers.
- The applicant travels at 10km/h or more below the speed limit and following traffic is inconvenienced, unless road or traffic conditions (eg travelling on a wet or unsealed road or in congested or slow traffic) make it unsafe to travel closer to the speed limit
- The applicant remains stationary for no good reason for 5 seconds or more when there is ample opportunity to proceed:
- at traffic signals, the applicable signal has turned green, or
- at an intersection, all vehicles to which the applicant is required to give way have cleared the intersection, or
- where vehicles queued in front of the applicant have moved off.
Note: when turning right onto a major road and there is a flush median available, there is an expectation that the applicant will utilise the flush median where it is appropriate and practicable to do so (refer to Figure 28).
- When turning right at traffic signals (and there are no other vehicles already waiting in the intersection to turn) the applicant does not move forward to wait in the intersection for a safe gap in the oncoming traffic.
- Any situation where the applicant has priority over other road users and is able to proceed but fails to do so.
- The applicant stops unnecessarily before driving through a pedestrian crossing or school crossing when no pedestrians are on or approaching the crossing.
The applicant must not exceed the speed limit at any time during the test.
- The applicant exceeds the speed limit by 5km/h or more (but less than 10km/h) for less than 5 seconds.
Failing to look
Applicants will be required to demonstrate thorough observation techniques throughout the test.
- When pulling out from the kerb, the applicant does not check the relevant mirror(s) and does not do a head check before moving off.
- When diverging left or right by at least the width of the car, the applicant does not check the relevant mirror(s) and does not do a head check before diverging.
- When changing lanes or partially changing lanes, the applicant does not check the relevant mirror(s) and does not do a head check before crossing the lane boundary.
- When required to give way to conflicting traffic, the applicant fails to look for conflicting traffic before proceeding.
- Prior to driving over a railway crossing the applicant fails to look in both directions for approaching rail vehicles.
Immediate failure error
When turning or diverging (including changing lanes or pulling out from the kerb), if the applicant fails to give way and causes another road user to take evasive action, an immediate failure error (failing to give way) is recorded.
Failing to signal
The applicant needs to demonstrate their ability to apply the appropriate signals throughout the test, irrespective of traffic conditions.
- When pulling out from a parked or stationary position the applicant fails to signal before moving off.
- When stopping at the kerb or the side of the road, the applicant fails to signal before diverging or stopping.
- When diverging left or right by at least the width of the car, the applicant fails to signal before diverging.
- When changing lanes or partially changing lanes, the applicant fails to signal before crossing the lane boundary.
- When turning at an intersection, the applicant fails to give a turn signal.
- When negotiating a roundabout, fails to give appropriate signal(s).
A critical error is not incurred if the applicant signals when required but does not do so correctly (eg the signal is not activated soon enough or is allowed to cancel too soon).
However, this will be counted as a ‘no’ for the relevant task assessment item.
Blocking a pedestrian crossing
A driver shall not stop a vehicle in a position that blocks a pedestrian crossing. However, in some cases (eg in some left-turn slip lanes) it may be necessary for the first queued vehicle to stop on the crossing if an adequate view of approaching traffic cannot be obtained by stopping before the crossing.
- The applicant stops the vehicle on or partly on a pedestrian crossing or an area controlled by pedestrian traffic signals (but no pedestrians are affected).
- The applicant is not penalised for stopping the vehicle on a pedestrian crossing if it is necessary to do so to view approaching traffic before completing a turn at an intersection (see Figure 37).
- If more than one vehicle is queuing to make the turn, this exception applies only to the first vehicle in the queue (see Figure 38).
- Before stopping on the pedestrian crossing, the applicant must take all reasonable care to ensure that no pedestrian has to take evasive action.
Immediate failure error
If the applicant stops the vehicle at a position that intrudes onto or blocks a pedestrian crossing and a pedestrian takes evasive action, the exception described above does not apply. An immediate failure error (stopping at dangerous position) is incurred.
Figure 37 Stopping before the crossing may not provide an adequate view of traffic approaching from the right.
Figure 38 The second queued vehicle should not encroach on the pedestrian crossing until the first vehicle has departed.
Mounting a kerb
Causing the vehicle to mount the kerb during the test indicates the applicant does not have sufficient skills to safely control the vehicle.
- While entering or leaving a parking space or performing a three-point turn, the applicant allows one wheel of the vehicle to mount the kerb and no other road user is required to take evasive action and there is no danger to property.
If, while entering or leaving a parking space or performing a three-point turn, one or more tyres contact the kerb but not heavily enough to cause discomfort to vehicle occupants and without mounting the kerb, no penalty is recorded.
Immediate failure error
An immediate failure error (collision) is incurred when mounting the kerb if:
- more than one wheel mounts the kerb
- a road user takes evasive action
- there is danger to property.
Stalling the vehicle
Stalling the vehicle can lead to potentially dangerous conflicts with other traffic.
- The applicant stalls the vehicle at any time during the test.
Immediate failure error
If the applicant requires physical or verbal assistance to start or re-start the vehicle after a stall (or at any other time in the test), an immediate failure error (intervention) is incurred.
Incomplete stop at a Stop sign
Applicants are required to come to a complete stop at Stop signs.
- When approaching a Stop sign, the applicant slows and pauses, but fails to bring the vehicle to a complete stop (with the wheels motionless) in a suitable position to see if the way is clear.
Immediate failure error
An immediate failure error is incurred if:
- the applicant drives past a Stop sign without clearly demonstrating an intention to stop, regardless of whether there is any conflict with other traffic
- the incomplete stop occurs at a railway level crossing controlled by a Stop sign
- the applicant does not stop at a red or yellow traffic signal (when required to do so)
- when stopping at a Stop or Give Way sign, stops in a position that creates a conflict with an approaching vehicle on the intersecting road.
Other illegal action
Applicants are required to comply with legal requirements at all times during the test.
The applicant performs an illegal driving action not specified and recorded under any other critical error. For example:
- Following distance is between 1 and 2 seconds.
- The applicant drives over part of the central island of a roundabout designed to be driven over by heavy vehicles.
- The applicant fails to give way to a pedestrian waiting to cross at a pedestrian crossing (but not on the crossing).
- If the applicant gives a turn/diverge signal that starts too late or finishes too early, a critical error (other illegal action) should not be recorded. This should be recorded for Signalling if the task is assessable. However, if a required turn/diverge signal is omitted altogether, a critical error (fail to signal) should be recorded.
- If the applicant breaches the lateral position requirements stated in the Task assessment items section, a critical error (other illegal action) should only be recorded if the applicant:
- makes an incorrect lane change and no other road user is affected
- turns from a lane marked for straight-through traffic only
- turns into a multi-laned road and turns into the incorrect lane, and no other road user is affected
- drives straight through an intersection from a lane marked for turning traffic only
- unnecessarily drives in (or partly in) a special vehicle lane
- drives on (or partly on) the wrong side of the road
- does not drive wholly within their lane unless avoiding an obstruction.
Task assessment items
For all other breaches of the lateral position requirements, a critical error (other illegal action) should not be recorded.
If, when directed to pull over to the kerb at the end of stage 1, the applicant stops the car very close to (but not blocking) a driveway, a critical error (other illegal action) should not be recorded.
Figure 39 Illegal overtaking on the left on roads with only one marked lane for the applicant’s direction of travel.