Restricted licence test guide
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.
Too slow - explanation
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.
Too slow - recorded if:
- The applicant travels at 10km/h or more below the speed limit for at
least two-thirds of the stage (either stage 1 or stage 2).
- 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
- at an intersection, all vehicles to which the applicant is required to
give way have cleared the intersection
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Too slow - exception
The applicant is not penalised for travelling at 10km/h or more below the
speed limit for a substantial part of the stage if 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.
Too fast - explanation
The applicant must not exceed the speed limit at any time during the test.
Too fast - recorded if:
- The applicant exceeds the speed limit by 5km/h or more (but less
than 10km/h) for less than 5 seconds.
Failing to look - explanation
Applicants will be required to demonstrate thorough observation
techniques throughout the test.
Failing to look - recorded if:
- 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.
Failing to look - 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
Failing to signal - explanation
The applicant needs to demonstrate their ability to apply the appropriate
signals throughout the test, irrespective of traffic conditions.
Failing to signal - recorded if:
- 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
- When negotiating a roundabout, fails to give appropriate signal(s).
Failing to signal - exception
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
Blocking a pedestrian crossing - explanation
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.
Blocking a pedestrian crossing - recorded if:
- The applicant stops the vehicle on or partly on a pedestrian crossing
or an area controlled by pedestrian traffic signals (but no pedestrians
Blocking a pedestrian crossing - exception
- 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 36):
- If more than one vehicle is queuing to make the turn, this exception
applies only to the first vehicle in the queue (see Figure 37).
- Before stopping on the pedestrian crossing, the applicant must take
all reasonable care to ensure that no pedestrian has to take evasive
Blocking a pedestrian crossing - 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 36 Stopping before the crossing may not provide
an adequate view of traffic approaching from the right.
||Figure 37 The second queued vehicle should not
encroach on the pedestrian crossing until the first
vehicle has departed.
Mounting a kerb - explanation
Causing the vehicle to mount the kerb during the test indicates the
applicant does not have sufficient skills to safely control the vehicle.
Mounting a kerb - recorded if:
- 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.
Mounting a kerb - exception
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.
Mounting a kerb - immediate failure error
An immediate failure error (collision) is incurred when mounting the
- more than one wheel mounts the kerb
- a road user takes evasive action
- there is danger to property.
Stalling the vehicle - explanation
Stalling the vehicle can lead to potentially dangerous conflicts with other
Stalling the vehicle - recorded if:
- The applicant stalls the vehicle at any time during the test.
Stalling the vehicle - immediate failure
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 - explanation
Applicants are required to come to a complete stop at Stop signs.
Incomplete stop at a Stop sign - recorded if:
- 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.
Incomplete stop at a Stop sign - immediate failure
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
- the incomplete stop occurs at a railway level crossing controlled by a
- 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 - explanation
Applicants are required to comply with legal requirements at all times
during the test.
Other illegal action - recorded if:
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).
Other illegal action - exceptions
- 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
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 38 Illegal overtaking on the left on roads with only
one marked lane for the applicant’s direction of travel.
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Last updated: 27 February 2015