The practical driving test for buses and lorries

If you want to drive a lorry or a bus, you will need to take a theory and practical driving test. The driving tests are designed to test the skills you will need to be a vocational driver.

What the test includes

At the beginning of the test you will be asked five vehicle safety questions. For more information about the vehicle safety questions, see the section below. You will be examined on your general driving and on set exercises. The set exercises will include:

  • an 'S' shaped reverse into a bay
  • a braking exercise (on road)
  • demonstrating the uncoupling and re-coupling procedure if you're taking a test with a trailer

As from 1 February 2014, if you take your test in a manual vehicle, you will not be asked to carry out a specific gear-change exercise during the general driving element of your test. Instead, you will be assessed throughout the test on your ability to choose the correct gear as part of general driving.

The drive on the road lasts about 60 minutes and the overall test takes about 90 minutes.

Vehicle safety questions

These are basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to make sure the vehicle is safe for use. Although some checks may involve opening the engine compartment to identify where fluid levels would be checked, you will not be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.

As vehicle technology advances, more and more vehicles are being equipped with electronic diagnostic systems that tell the driver the engine fluid levels and tyre pressures. It will be acceptable for you to refer to the vehicle information system (if fitted) when answering questions on fluid levels or tyre pressures - as long as the information provided by the system is adequate.

List of questions you may be asked

Drivers seeking vocational licence entitlement should be experienced and technically expert. The assessment criteria reflects this. Candidates will be asked five questions which will be a combination of ‘show me’ and ‘tell me’. A driving fault will be recorded for each incorrect answer to a maximum of four driving faults. If the candidate answers all five questions incorrectly, a serious fault will be recorded.

For a list of the safety questions you could be asked in your driving test, follow the links below:

During the test

During the driving test the examiner will give you directions which you should follow. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions. Throughout the test you should drive in the way your instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it, it might be a less serious fault and may not affect your result.

The examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving. You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test (16 or more driving faults will mean a failure). However, if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test.

If at any time your examiner considers you to be a danger to other road users, your test will be stopped.

You are allowed to take someone with you on the test, this person must be over 16 years old and they can't take any part in the test.

After the test

When the driving test is over, the examiner will tell you whether you passed or failed. You can request feedback on your test from the examiner, who will then go through your performance during the test. Your instructor or passenger is welcome to listen to this feedback if you wish.

If you pass

Your examiner will issue you with a pass certificate which you should send to:

Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) Licensing
Castlerock Road
BT51 3TB

along with your licence to get full licence entitlement. Full details will be on the back of your pass certificate.

If you fail

If you fail the test you should ask the examiner for some feedback to help prepare yourself for your next test. Your driving test report form will also show you where you made any mistakes.

Driving test standards

All examiners are trained to carry out the test to the same standard. They do not have pass or fail quotas. As long as you achieve the standard required you will pass your driving test.

Weather conditions/mechanical problems

DVA doesn't conduct tests in bad light or in adverse weather conditions for the safety of the candidate and the examiner. Another appointment will be arranged at no further cost, however, compensation is not payable.

Candidates should call the telephone number quoted on the appointment letter to check whether their test will go ahead. If the driving test is not completed for reasons to do with you or your vehicle, you will have to take another test at your own cost.

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