When taking your behind-the-wheel driver’s exam in California, you have a lot to pay attention to. This is the last step before you get your provisional driver’s license in the state of California, and the stakes are high. It’s common to feel stressed or nervous, but this article is here to help you prepare to pass the first time. The fact is, when taking the behind-the-wheel test, you can make up to 15 errors before failing the exam. This may seem like a high number of errors – that’s because it is. Most people who fail the exam don’t do it through points. Instead, most who fail the behind-the-wheel do so because of what’s called an automatic fail

Automatic fails on your driving test can be defined as anything the driver does that puts them or other drivers in harm’s way. In other words, something makes the examiner intervene or breaks a law. That may seem like a no-brainer, but these automatic fails are easier to trigger than you think. In this article, we are going to go over the 6 automatic fails on the driving test in California. 

Automatic Fail 1: Rolling Stops

When driving, it’s important to obey all traffic signs and signals. That means coming to a complete stop when indicated by a stop sign or red light. “Rolling” a stop means not fully stopping before proceeding through the intersection. 

They consider this a major driving violation and as such, it can result in an automatic fail on your behind-the-wheel driving exam. Not only is it illegal, but rolling stops can also be dangerous. Without fully stopping, it’s harder to check for other vehicles or pedestrians crossing the intersection, increasing the risk of an accident. So remember to always come to a full stop at intersections, for both the safety of yourself and others on the road.

Automatic Fail 2: Illegal Turns

​​An illegal turn, also known as an improper turn, is any maneuver that goes against local traffic laws. This can include not signaling before turning, making a U-turn where they are not allowed, or turning onto a one-way street the wrong way. 

These kinds of turns are dangerous and can lead to accidents, so it’s important to know and follow the rules of the road. When taking your driving test, be sure to pay attention to any signs or signals regarding turns and always signal before making one.

Automatic Fail 3: Failure to Yield

When driving, it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and yield to other vehicles or pedestrians when necessary. Failing to do so is known as a “failure to yield,” and it can lead to dangerous accidents on the road. 

On your behind-the-wheel driving exam, this mistake will result in an automatic fail. It shows that you aren’t paying attention and haven’t properly learned how to safely navigate in traffic. So, make sure to keep an eye out for any cars, bicycles, or pedestrians at intersections, marked crosswalks, or when entering or exiting a driveway. Remember, yielding may add a few extra seconds onto your journey, but it’s much better than potentially causing harm to yourself or others on the road.

Automatic Fail 4: Unsafe Lane Changes

We’ve all been there – you’re driving in your lane, minding your own business, and then all of a sudden that aggressive driver behind you tries to cut into your lane without signaling or checking their blind spot. That is an unsafe lane change. 

On your behind-the-wheel driving exam, this maneuver will automatically result in a fail because it not only puts you at risk, but also anyone around you on the road. It’s crucial to always check your mirrors and signal before changing lanes (even if it may slow you down a bit), as well as giving other vehicles enough space and time to react. Driving is all about being aware and considerate of those sharing the road with you. So let’s do our part to make it a safer place by avoiding those dangerous lane changes.

Automatic Fail 5: Lack of Attention

When it comes to driving, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not paying attention. Whether it’s fiddling with the radio, checking your phone, or simply daydreaming, not being fully focused on the road can lead to serious accidents. This lack of attention is very serious and can result in an automatic fail. 

Driving examiners want to ensure that drivers can operate a vehicle safely and effectively, and not paying attention goes against that. It’s important for new drivers (and experienced ones too) to prioritize paying attention while behind the wheel. Keep your eyes on the road, keep both hands on the steering wheel, and stay focused – it could save your life and the lives of those around you.

Automatic Fail 6: Inexperience

Not having any experience behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster. Not only will you lack basic knowledge of the rules of the road, but you also won’t have developed crucial driving skills such as parallel parking (though this one isn’t on the exam), unprotected left turns, backing up, or merging into traffic. Unfortunately, this can put not only yourself at risk, but also other drivers on the road. 

That’s why failing to demonstrate these essential skills on your driving exam is a guaranteed fail. So before you take the test, make sure you log some practice hours with a licensed driver to improve your chances of passing and becoming a safe driver.

Automatic Fails on the Driving Test in California: Conclusion

Avoiding automatic fails on your driving exam in California is very doable with a little practice. Make sure to always prepare yourself and review the standards and expectations laid out by the California DMV. Your Drivers Ed Online has numerous resources to help you pass your behind the wheel on the first try.